Those of you who follow our family journey will know that our son has returned to school after being home educated. He was feeling under stimulated at school and since achieved a high enough score on the grammar school entrance exam to have his choice of the local state schools. I can’t believe it but he is already on his second term there.
How he Coped Academically in the First Term back at School
Academically I worried about whether he would cope. It is usual for those who go to grammar school to suddenly find they are no longer at the top of the class, but this school really is the absolute highest of abilities. I worried that not only was this going to be new to him but we really didn’t “do much” when it came to home education so I was slightly nervous that the other children (who let’s face it will have had a big SATs push) would be streets ahead of him.
There were a few teething issues with some of the children finding their feet in this respect. Those who were in the top 150 of the grammar school entrance results knew that they definitely had a place at the school so did not get told whereabouts in that 150 they came. But some of those places did not get taken up and those under 150 were told where they came. Now to even sit the test is a massive achievement but honestly to get into this school the child has to be really clever. I am not saying this to big my child up (I mean all the grammars you have to be really clever and there is a huge element of luck on the day/how well the child can do tests too). The point is that they are all clever children. It is also weighted dependent on when your birthday falls – so a September born has to answer more right than an August born. Anyhow, haha back to the point – there was some talk of “at least I got into the top 150” from some of the other children (actually to a September born!). There was also some talk of “I’m better than you at Maths” for example to our son. But this seems to have all very much settled already.
As it turns out our son is still coming up top and his report was extremely good. They are marked on a red, amber and green system. Amber is where they expect to be for that school (so by age they are probably red) and obviously green is above that. Pleased and proud to say he was mostly green with a few ambers.
The First Birthday back at School
Our son’s birthday is early on in the autumn term and it happened to coincide with an early finish, which was nice for him. The school also sent him a birthday card through the post. He invited a few of his new friends to laser tag and food afterwards. There is a WhatsApp group for us parents in his form which made it easier to organise and then of course it was lovely to put some names to faces (both of the boys and their parents). There was also a social evening put on by the school where we were given coloured stickers so we could identify others in our house.
The Hot House
I am not sure if it Is people who have children who did not get into the school who start silly rumours but I guess it isn’t unusual for people to be concerned that taking children who are so academically gifted and selectively placing them all in one school that they could be results driven.
I think if anything the school is less of a hot house than any other school we have experienced (through myself and our children). I guess because the children just “get” things there’s plenty of time for other things. The school promised only to set homework if it was necessary and he really has had very little really (for example over Christmas he had to read a Christmas Carol but even that could wait until he went back to school if he wanted).
Our son was quickly rewarded with an achievement point/merit and had 7 by the end of the first term. I was actually quite shocked because the first one was from a teacher that I felt he had been quite cheeky to, but apparently he liked his sense of humour!
Sport and the return to School
Sport has been a big change in our lives with him leaving swimming club and really loving rugby. Extra-curricular activities are one of the reasons that the school do not set unnecessary homework. My first issue was buying football studs and not rugby boots. Then we opted for the mouth guard which is fitted at school and him being convinced it didn’t fit properly (it just got some getting used to). Then he really wanted me to go to watch his first rugby match which was away at another school and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to go. I did go and it looked like a boy from the other school may have broken his arm – and they aren’t even playing “properly” yet. At least our son is tall and stocky for his age – some of them look so fragile. Oh and of course he isn’t great at keeping his kit clean – he has needed a lot of encouragement that his muddy kit NEEDS washing.
He has also been to Twickenham to watch the Varsity match. I had given him some money to buy something and he was convinced he wanted to use it for a rugby ball but he did not have enough money. One of the other boys in his tutor gave him the difference (and very kindly wouldn’t accept it back the next day).
He has also been running and still has a weekly swimming session (although he has missed quite a few for one reason or another).
The School App
I do love the school app – you can notify the school of absence (he has already had a day off ill, which was actually quite nice as he was well enough at the end of the day to do some art with his brother who is still home educated); see their timetable, pay for things; see what they have eaten; read their reports; keep track of achievements and behaviour concerns (we have none for this son) and attendance (which is how I knew that he had an unauthorised absence when he forgot to register after lunchtime rugby before a Geography field trip). You can also give permission for trips and consent (such as staying after school before House Music) as well as pay.
Although parents aren’t responsible for everything and the children have their own systems with their own responsibilities- like what happens during TPM and therefore what they will require for it.
Compulsory Commitments at School
I thought when he started that he had to go to school on certain Sundays but it turns out that was just for those in the school production (this year was Peter Pan and we went to see it). He did have to take part in House Music (which his house won!) and was absolutely amazing to see such talent. Both our sons (as one started sixth form at the same time) didn’t really feel that this was the bonding that the school claimed – but I think they changed their minds by the end of it.
The year 7s had to come up with ideas on how to make money at the Christmas Bizarre, it was lovely to see how well his whole class gets on with each other. They weren’t the winning house to raise the most amount of money – can’t win them all though!
He had to take part in this Christmas Carol concert – which he hated but at least he got to spend time with his friends.
He had his school photos taken right at the start too – and we just purchased them on a USB stick.
Optional things at School
House Art was optional but his form decided to do it collectively each one decorating a plastic bottle (although this didn’t go without confusion). Obviously the Christmas production of Peter Pan was also optional. Plus the trips for Geography and Art.
Other things happening outside of School
Not related to school as such but he got his first pet (that wasn’t a family one) of a Bearded Dragon – which he has responsibility for, he needs attention each morning before school as well as organising buying his food and initially his lights on and off (we have since got a timer). He also asked his friends from school for opinions on a name for him.
One morning their dad’s car broke down and so they were late for school – typically it was pouring down of rain too. We have since got rid of that car and replaced it with a newer one.
Finally near the end of the term I discovered that there was a Saturday Christmas cooking class that the boys could attend – at the same place where they had enjoyed home education cooking (which is one of the things he enjoyed the most). I had asked if he missed it home education (and at one point someone tried to be mean about the fact he was) and he said no because he had had the opportunity to do those things. We also joined in as a family (of four) for the Christmas Quiz at Explore Learning.
I honestly cannot believe how fast the first time has gone already. I am so pleased with how well he has just slotted back in – it really is like he has always been there. The other children seem so lovely too and he enjoys going.