After yesterday’s blog post, I thought it would be a good idea to do a follow-up post today.
We didn’t get our first choice of secondary school. Nor did we get our second choice. We got our third choice.
I am still struggling to process it. I know first hand how hard Dexter has worked, and how well he has done – not just with the 11+ but throughout his whole school ‘career.’ None of this makes sense.
I’m so upset I could cry. I haven’t because I’ve been (and continue to) adopting the ‘laid back’ approach with Dexter so that he doesn’t realise just how upset I really am. Because you see this is more than just being told he’s got to go to a school neither of us want him to go to, this is about Dexter as a person.
I’ve been through some tough times with my boys over the last few years but remain resolute in my stance that I will do whatever it takes to ensure my boys’ happiness. No different to other parents of course, but doing it all on your own with no support is no mean feat. I’ve tried so hard to build Dexter’s confidence during this time so that he feels worthy as a person. Sounds a little dramatic but when a parent fundamentally abandons a child like his father has done, you have no idea what impact that has on a kid. I’ve seen it first hand and do my best to deal with it the best I can on a daily basis, but it’s something that will take years to overcome, if at all.
My point is this. To my local council, Dexter might just be another number. Maybe we’re 200 yards too far away from the school we want. Maybe had he got one more point like his best friend (who did get into the school), he’d have been accepted too. I won’t know until I talk to the ‘powers that be’, but in the meantime Dexter feels he’s let me down. He feels like he didn’t do well enough. That he could have done more. That he should have done more. That this school doesn’t want him.
And it breaks my bloody heart.
I soothed him with soft and gentle words of adoration and encouragement. I promised I’d fight this all the way to get the result he deserves but that either way, he’s made me proud. I told him how smart and beautiful he is. You know what he said? “Don’t worry Mummy, don’t waste your time on it, I know you have to work to earn pennies and that’s much more important.”
The council doesn’t hear words like that. They don’t understand what a massive knock to his confidence this is. It’s just about numbers to them.
But I hear the words. I see the pain in his face. I understand what he means when he says he can’t face his friends at school because he’s embarrassed they got in and he didn’t.
We ate ice cream last night and I ‘complained’ when he kept scooping out the shortbread chunks on my side. I told him not to worry. That I would, of course, appeal my arse off … which made him laugh because Mum doesn’t normally say words like that. I did my best to build him back up, which is what I spend my life doing – repairing the cracks in his heart that someone else has made. But I guess that’s what being a Mum is all about.
I honestly don’t know what will happen but even if I win the appeal, he’ll always feel like he wasn’t good enough to be chosen in the first place, when the school should feel lucky to have him as a pupil. The fact that he’s a prefect and on the Gifted & Talented register aside, he’s just a lovely, lovely boy that deserves to have every single opportunity afforded to him.
The system doesn’t make sense. After telling some friends online what happened, the horror stories they recanted to me about pupils being flown in to take the 11+ from other countries, or how one child one side of the A2 got into a school, but another child the other side of the road didn’t, were depressing to say the least.
It might not be personal from the council’s point of view, but they’ve just made it very personal to me. My protective instinct is in overdrive and when someone hurts my boys a different side to me comes out.
Let the appeal process begin.
Oh. My. God. You won’t believe what just happened. I had to wait until I got my formal offer letter before I could call the council, which I received this afternoon. I very politely asked the manager of the schools admissions team why Dexter didn’t get his first choice. He replied, “But Dexter didn’t sit the 11+ test.” Erm, YES HE DID. Turns out, it was all an admin error and because Dexter has been known as having two surnames during the past year, their system didn’t pick up it was the same boy and therefore didn’t put his score against his application. It’s partly my fault for not realising that would even be an issue but within five minutes, the council had got hold of the headmaster who approved Dexter’s application!
Hallelujah! Thanks to everyone who supported me during this mad rollercoaster .. I don’t envy anyone who is in my position.