I took Eben off to an appointment at the local pre-school this morning. Luckily (in fact extra luckily considering we're in Lambeth) the local primary is absolutley stonking, it's 3rd in the borough in the league tables, but more importantly it has the most amzingly warm atmosphere to it.
The attached pre-school which Eben will attend from January next year if our application is successful is attached in terms of location, but entirly independent in terms of facilities to the primary, so there's separate toilets, kitchens and so on.
My meeting was with the new head, a guy who joins his long serving assistant head wife to make up what I imagine will be an extremely strong husband and wife team. They have three pre-schoolers themselves and his first words were, that we wants to create a school he'd be delighted to send his own children (obvious I know, but it sounded genuine and the fact his wife is there suggests he really mans business).
The atmosphere was playful, but very structured. He reassured me that he felt the government's current plans to put educational targets on the under 5s were absolute bollocks. He was definitely his own man, wasn't towing a line, very interesting and I have no doubt he's going to do great things.
And then came the question about catchment area. I lied - I said that having moved in recently (18 months it's kind of recent) we hadn't really worked out the catchment area (well we have and we're outside technically). His response - 'our criteria really is church attendance' he then went on to say parental interest was key and it was good to see we were checking so early. It was blunt, unquestioning, but unequivocal - we go to the attached CoE church and we're pretty much guaranteed to get in.
Q. So what are we going to do:
1. We're not religious
2. I have a fundamental issue with faith schools
A. We're going to start going to church
Fuck principle. It's too good an opportunity to miss out on. I've already dressed up for the meeting and taken the good buggy for God's sake why the hell should the deception stop there, keep it going. Anyway I was told by my next door neighbour that it's the best place in the area to meet like-minded people. Her comment 'Frankly I don't know why they don't go the whole hog and put a bar in the back, it'd make things far easier'.
Besides, it's going to save me £7,000 in school fees, I can swallow any amount of God for £7,000.
So here I am one of the priveliged middle classes perpetuating the selective system and alienating the poor in the community to condemn them to a poor start in life. What would my 18 year old self think of me? He'd hate me like the silver spoon grammar school educated prig he was. Hey ho.