First day at a new school

I’m afraid you are going to have to wait a little longer for the annual Badger Moot write up as Tuesday 4th November saw a huge change in the lives of both of our girls and I’m afraid that takes precedence.

When we had to apply for schools for Éowyn we lived in Stanwell Moor and thus took into account journey times to school among educational and development promises the schools made.  That sounds worse that it actually was, you can rest assured that we were dutiful parents and attended the open days  and listened attentively to each of the presentations.  After much deliberation we chose Town Farm.  Town Farm is based in Stanwell and geographically is the closest to our old home (although still a car ride away).  Town Farm had always had a poorer reputation than some of the other schools but on our visit we were impressed with the attitude of the staff and the obvious improvements that had been made to the school, with the cash injection that it had seemingly received.  We do not regret for one moment sending Éowyn to Town Farm, she had progressed well, made good friends (one very good friend) and got on extremely well with the staff, especially her reception teacher Miss Finbow.  Nevertheless, since moving into Staines (upon Thames) and more importantly, the other side of the A30, (and Crooked Billet roundabout) the journey had made us begin to question whether we should keep her there and that question was becoming more important as it would obviously influence our decision of where to apply to send Amélie and consequently Ezra.

In addition to these logistical challenges of keeping the kids at Town Farm there were also the positives in the local school: Riverbridge.  Riverbridge is a five minute walk across the park at the end of the road, and a number of children in the road also attend.  One negative thing about Town Farm, from our point of view was that we never felt fully part of the community, probably because we drove there, dropped the kids off and drove back.  The alternative is sitting in the midst of our (albeit new) community.  Therefore at the beginning of 2014 we put Éowyn on the waiting list to join Riverbridge.  We were hoping that a place would become available over the summer and Éowyn could start year 1 at Riverbridge.  That did not happen and we were only offered the place at the start of October.  However, with the girls party and birthdays we asked if we could defer the start date until after the half term break, as it seemed like a more natural starting point and give us time to break the news to Éowyn, and her best friend Aaliyah.

Riverbridge, always had a very good reputation in the area but it has recently merged with 2 other schools, one of which has closed down.  This transition has adversely affected its Ofsted rating but we think that this is just a temporary situation and the other positives will hopefully justify changing Éowyn at this stage in her education.  That is what we are telling ourselves anyway!

Changing Éowyn’s place of education also meant that we needed to change Amélie’s place of education.  Obviously Amélie is not in full time education so in some ways it is not as difficult to move her.  However, Amélie has made friends at MiniTots and is very settled with the children there and the staff, so it is going to be a hard transition for her too.  Again, we were very happy with MiniTots and with their flexible hours it was ideal to fit in with Éowyn, and placed on the same site as Éowyn’s school, we could not have asked for a better nursery.

Riverbridge has a nursery but you have to commit to either all mornings, or all afternoons there is no provision for children to stay there all day.  This does not suit us as we prefer 3 full days rather than 5 half days.  However, the second closest school, Our Lady of the Rosary has a nursery that has spaces and the option to send Amélie for three full days.  We were very impressed when we went to look around but two factors swayed us.  The first is that our neighbour Kathy works there, so Amélie would know one member of staff before going there and secondly one of her friends from MiniTots goes there on Wednesdays, so she would know at least one other girl.  Unlike full time school, Amélie was able to go there for a taster session before half-term and thus was a little more prepared than Éowyn for her first day.

Although the schools are closer and there is no driving required, we still have to leave home at about the same time.  This is because Amélie’s school starts at 08:30.  Also, since Éowyn’s new school uniform includes a blouse and tie, it will take a little longer to get ready we woke up, on quite a cold morning, nice and early.  The obligatory photos of the first day were taken (see below) sand we dropped them off.  Amélie met a little girl on the way to school and immediately stuck up a conversation with her.  There were no special measures for Amélie, she simply joined the rest of the children waiting outside and quite happily headed inside.  It seemed a bit of an anticlimax.

At Riverbridge, we had to take Éowyn into school via reception.  At least it was warm inside the school.  We had to fill in a couple of forms and while we were doing so the head teacher introduced herself.  Éowyn went into shy mode and lost her voice.  She seemed more overwhelmed by it all but wasn’t upset more shell-shocked.  We said goodbye and she headed off after the secretary down the corridors and towards her classroom.

The beauty of being a short walk away from school is that there is no need to get the car out and fight for a parking space outside school. The downside of being a short walk away from school is that you walk to school and although that is really something to enjoy when the sun is shining, it is a different matter when it is raining.  At 14:45 today it decided to rain, not a drizzle but a serious downpour.  Lucinda and I were soaked by the time we picked the girls up.  Nevertheless, standing in the pouring rain we did manage to have a quick chat with Éowyn’s new teacher:  Mrs Preston.  She said that Éowyn seemed to settle quite well, made a few friends and joined in with class discussions.

After changing out of wet clothes and warming up we spoke to the girls about their first days.  Amélie seemed to enjoy her day and had made a few new friends and was looking forward to going back the next day.  There is another girl there called Amélie, so Amélie is known as Amélie B.

Éowyn was a little more reserved by said that she enjoyed her day.  Blake, her friend and son of our friends Emma and Martin, sat with her and played with her: the consummate gentleman, looking after his friend.  She made a new friend and had taken a tumble in the playground.  Pretty standard stuff.  She was given a new reading book (a story about a mermaid, so she was very pleased) and the work that the class had been given to complete over the half-term holiday.

Although both schools will be following similar curriculum they have concentrated on different things thus far.  As a consequence it is going to take Éowyn a little time to play catch up with the rest of the class.  Éowyn is very bright so we have no worries that she will catch up, but for Éowyn it is a novel experience being the only one not to understand something that the rest of the class does.  She does not like this, so this evening she asked me if I could explain Hundreds, Tens and Units, so we sat down until she grasped the fundamentals.

Everything seemed good and we were mildly surprised how well it had gone, until Éowyn got out of the bath and burst into tears.  I think potentially the realisation dawned on her that this was it, she was at the blue school and there was no going back.  Up until today, it was just a notion, an idea an abstract concept.  Today it became real and talking to Nanny and Granddad and then Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz coupled with explaining her day to Mommy and Daddy brought home the fact that she was not going to see her friends and teachers at Town Farm again.  It is completely understandable, I know some adults that have the same difficulty with change and I suppose deep down we all do.

A cuddle and a chat with Mum, then Dad eased her tears but I have no doubt we will have more before the week is out but I also have no doubt that she will settle down and catch up with the work that the rest of the class are finding easy at the moment.  As always I will keep you informed through the medium of this website.

I will leave you with photos of them in their new school uniforms.

Peace and Love


PS This momentous day also happens to be the 200th post on this website – thank you all for reading