I can hardly believe it’s time to apply for a school place for BB. Being an August baby she’ll start school within weeks of turning four next September, which means we have until January to get our application in.
Our first choice is the local Catholic primary, whose performance is ranked in the top 7% of primary schools in the country, which unfortunately is also one of the reasons it’s the first choice of parents across town. The school is so oversubscribed there exists a list of Strict Criteria one must meet in order to be in with a chance of obtaining a place, and that criteria is ranked into Strict Categories.
For example, it’s not enough to simply be a practicing Catholic and live in the parish. Our priest must fill out a form stating exactly how often we attended mass in the six months prior to applying for the school place, and when it comes to the dreaded Strict Criteria there’s a big difference between attending ‘frequently’ – twice or more a month – and ‘regularly’ – three or more times a month. Several Strict Category rankings in fact. (Surely twice or more a month could mean three times a month, which makes one a regular attendee rather than frequent, in which case I’m totally lost…)
So whereas BB and I would normally go to church as and when we can, in order to meet the Strict Criteria and be in with a chance of getting her a place at the local school her Granny went to I’ve spent a large part of this year actively avoiding making commitments on Sundays, including staying behind while Misery Guts and BB went away to celebrate his sister’s 40th birthday in order to ‘be seen’ at mass before catching a (ridiculously expensive) train to join them for what was left of the weekend.
Recounting this drives home just how crazy the school admission process is and begs the question: what would God say? Would He really want people to miss out on family milestones in order to tick a Strict Criteria box? And will I be judged for ‘playing the game’ in this way? Because if we’d like a place at the school, what choice do we have?
Goodness knows whether our efforts will pay off: it all depends how many people apply for the limited places, and where they fall in the Strict Category stakes.
I think it’s probably fair to say it’s in the lap of the Gods…