We started uniform shopping as soon as the summer holiday started.It might even have been the first day actually. Our son would happily have waited for weeks but we were keen to crack on because we were so excited about it, possibly even more so than a lot of other parents we know. This was because we’d gone through so much stress and worry about whether our son would actually get into school at all!Our area is very competitive for school places, even primary. We knew that when we moved here a year ago. It’s a very popular school and demand for places is high. But we were less than a mile from the school and well within catchment so I wasn’t worried. My husband was though; he fretted about it for months after we applied for a reception school place along with 3000 other parents across the city at the start of the year. I just assumed it would be fine. Because why wouldn’t it? We were expecting a second child the same week as the council announced the results so I was focused on that instead. Then on the day we found out our son hadn’t got into any of the schools we applied for. It was awful. He was one of 11 children in catchment who didn’t get it – our direct neighbour did though. So our son was the first on the waiting list, and remained so for weeks. And weeks. Everyone accepted their places. Fellow pupils parents were outraged on our behalf but that didn’t help. We took on a solicitor to advise us and entered the appeals process. I had our baby 6 days after the announcement but the initial weeks of joy were tinged with sadness and anxiety about our older sons future. We tried to hide it from him but could tell he knew something was up. We visited other schools and considered moving as a last resort. It was horrific to be honest. I’d burst into tears about the thought of him having to go to a school where he didn’t know anyone and how we would explain to a 3 year old (4 just a few days before school started) that he couldn’t go to his school anymore, where he’d attended nursery for a year. My husband did everything he could to get him into the school, hardly sleeping for three months and researching every possible option. And then we got lucky – a place came up and he was offered it. We cried with joy and relief and our son was over the moon to visit his new classroom and teacher. And to know he would stay with his friends, at his school.
So we bought his uniform straight away, and he wore it beaming with pride for two days even though it was school holidays. Then we bought his new school shoes and he wore them for two days as well. And scuffed the hell out of them. Of course. But it’s ok, because that photo of him we will take on his first day of school will be utterly perfect anyway and nothing will ruin it.