Column: Don’t despair if you don’t get your first choice school

First day at school
First day at school

As a parent you make numerous decisions for your children when they are young from what they are going to wear, eat and what time they go to bed. Yet one of the biggest decisions, which school they will attend, is ultimately made by someone else.

Last week thousands of parents received a letter or email informing them which primary school their child had been offered a place at for next year.

Rewind the clock 12 months and I was the parent anxiously waiting for the all-important letter. That morning I waited and watched as parents from the school we had selected as our first choice, where Isabella had spent a year attending Foundation 1, posted on social media that their child has been offered a place and felt optimistic that I would soon be posting a similar status.

My curiosity and impatience eventually got the better of me and I called the council. I was told that we hadn’t got our first choice and our daughter had been offered a place at our second preference.

In that moment I felt like I was going to be sick. I know that sounds quite dramatic but I had spent all of Isabella’s life being the one that makes the decisions and suddenly I was being told that she wasn’t going to attend the school that we had chosen for her. That year 55 children applied for just 30 places.

The school she was offered a place at was the school both my sister and I had attended and had very fond memories of. However at the time all I could think about was how Isabella was going to cope with leaving her friends behind and moving to another school.

I’ll be honest I shed tears, although never in front of my daughter, and found it difficult to talk about. Everyone told me that the school she had been offered a place at was a good school, and indeed it is, but naturally I was disappointed.

Now fast forward 12 months and I really had nothing to worry about! Isabella had transition days at her new school and we spent the summer holidays talking about how she was going to mummy’s old school and making it an exciting experience for her.

Isabella took to starting a new school completely in her stride and she seemed to fit in and make great friends straight away. She has wonderful teachers, whom she loves and who made her feel very welcome and she genuinely looks forward to going every day – which as a parents is all you can ask for.

This whole experience has taught me to make the best of every situation and that children are so much more resilient than us adults.