Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Posts Tagged ‘secondary

School shoes: the agony (and no ecstasy)

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I am trying very hard to be patient and to be understanding.

I remember the pain and the sorrow.

I remember all too well the stand-up rows I had with my mother about them: both sides adamant that the other was wrong; neither would back down. It was like the OK Corral, but in a shoe shop.

The reason for this grief?  School shoes. I recall the shelves heaving with dreadful footwear that *no one* would be seen dead in: the “sensible” lace-ups with delightful crepe soles; the t-bars that no one over the age of eight would wear.  No – what every secondary school girl wanted to wear was the patent pumps with big Minnie Mouse bows (am I showing my age?).

Unfortunately, my mother with one eye on her purse and the other on the perceived longevity of this fashion attire refused to say yes. What I needed, she assured me, was sensible leather shoes that would keep my feet dry when it rained, warm when it snowed and were still appropriate when the sun was shining.

But – I was a near teen, going into what is now Year 7 and I didn’t want little girl shoes. It was an argument we endured at least once a year (depending on how long the shoes lasted). I can’t remember who won. I imagine it was 50/50. Maybe.

Fast forward *cough* a few years and I am having the same issues with my daughter. She is about to go into secondary school and does not want sensible Clarks. Fine – I don’t rate them anyway. But we are definitely at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to deciding what’s appropriate.

Do you think these Alexander McQueen shoes will go with my uniform?

Thin soled ballet pumps – as far as I am concerned – aren’t going to last when you are walking a two and a bit-mile round trip five days a week in all weathers. She won’t touch the Hush Puppies and I do sympathise: most are hideous or just too young (adorned with butterflies or silver hearts).

History is repeating itself. The stand-offs are probably hysterical to an outsider. I’m having palpitations each time we enter a shop; her body language speaks volumes. She can’t even look the shop assistants in the eye. I just apologise continuously.

Oh, that I could fashion a pair of school shoes that were right for a girl on the edge of teendom!

A plea to shoe designers: please save me from the embarrassment of another ding-dong of a battle in the middle of a shop. Is it so hard to come up with leather shoes that can satisfy mums and their fashion-conscious daughters?

Excuse me for a moment. I’m just going for a lie down …


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Written by CommonPeople

August 7, 2010 at 7:59 pm

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It’s the end of an era

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It’s not every week I find myself feeling a bit wobbly when doing the ironing.

I mean, I hate ironing and could cry each time I see the pile of clothing that needs doing.

But this week was different.

This week I ironed my daughter’s primary school uniform for the last time. And, look, I even took a photograph of it (except one shirt, skirt and cardigan, which she was already wearing by the time I got round to doing this).

Five small-ish shirts, two cardigans, a skirt, pair of trousers and a pair of culottes (you never know what the weather is going to be like). All done.

As I (kind of) ironed out the creases of each item, I thought back to how I first proudly ironed the aged 2-3 grey school skirt, crisp white polo shirts and bright red cardigan she wore when she first went to the school in nursery. Always desperate to grow up, she couldn’t wait to put on her uniform for “big” school.

Now we’re buying a proper blazer, garish tartan skirt, trousers from only one shop, a tie (five stripes showing, please, or she’ll be sent home), a PE kit to be worn for every sport known to man – including gum shield, and a “performing arts” kit.

I get a lump in my throat even thinking of her leaving the cosy environs of a primary school, a place where everyone knows each other and everyone is made to feel special.

I’m dreading the leavers’ service on Friday and know that I and my friends will be blubbering idiots at the end of it, while our partners laugh at our emotional outbursts.

But it’s the end of an era – and it’s all about to get very serious.

It’s all about to get very scary.

And she can’t wait.

Written by CommonPeople

July 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

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Secondary school “choices” – Hobson’s Choice, more like

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When I first became a mum, I knew the small print said something about “always worrying” about your offspring.
I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t worry about things – especially if things are out of my control – but I’m not terribly good at taking my own advice.

I worried about which nursery my children should go to; I tossed and turned at night when I sent off the application forms for primary school.

Six years on from the infant school concern, I am now vexed with another BIG WORRY: it is selection time for secondary school.

Now, the authority area in which I live is not exactly blessed with schools that are knocking on The Times Top 100 league table’s door for entry.

There are some schools – as there are in every authority – that I would only allow my daughter to attend “over my dead body”.

There is a grammar school, for which an entrance exam has to be taken. This is fine. It is a gamble because there are more than 800 children sitting the exam for 96 places.

Our nearest school is an Academy, which has a good reputation. Children must sit an exam, but the selection procedure – something to do with banding, catchments, non-catchments and the alignment of Pisces with Jupiter – is so complicated that no-one actually understands it (including the local authority).

My daughter’s primary school is a feeder school for a secondary that also has a fairly good reputation. This pleased me and my friends greatly when we discovered this new relationship – at least we had a chance of getting our children into a half-decent school.

Not so.

For, we learned, there are ten primary schools in the “feeder umbrella” and ours is the furthest away of all of them. If every Year 6 child from those feeder schools applied, there wouldn’t be enough places to accommodate them all. Once distance is taken into consideration, 90 per cent of us at our primary school would be out of the running.

Five schools have to be chosen and they must be put in order of preference. There are not five schools in my borough that I could, hand on heart, say I would be happy to let my child attend.

The grammar, which she says she would like to try for, must come first on the list. But if there is no place available, we have our “fall-back” Academy. But – even if she meets the criteria – putting that school second jeopardises our chances of a place because most of the places are taken up by those who have placed it first on their preference form.

The alleged feeder school has already said that if you put it below second you have very little chance of getting in because it is over-subscribed.

The whole thing is overwhelming. It is frightening. I don’t like it.

The forms have to be submitted by October 23. We find out where she will go on March 1. That’s four months of no sleep. OK – that’s also in the small print…

Written by CommonPeople

September 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm