We are, like many parents, in the process of choosing the next school. It is a decision that involves a lot of thought and questions, one that requires visits to all the schools available.
It is also a decision that can be complicated by divorce or separation, if parents live in different areas or prefer different schools.
And then finally, even when you have dealt with all of the above, it is a decision that is in the end taken out of your hands and placed into those of your local authority.
It would be idealistic to think that a child could flourish in any school surrounding, but in reality we know this isn’t the case and while many schools are good, some are not so good and others are downright terrible. And it isn’t just the Ofsted reports that need consideration – we need to think about the facilities the school has, its after school clubs and care, your child’s current and future friendship groups.
The fact is, it is a decision that could potentially make or break our children and will affect the rest of their childhood; potentially the rest of their life. No pressure.
Decisions of this scale seem to bring out in some parents the zeal to do anything in their power to get what they want and 2009 saw the first case of a parent facing jail for deliberately using her mother’s address to get her son into a particularly oversubscribed school. The case was finally dropped, but for a while the mother faced a potential 12-month imprisonment and £5,000 fine.
And it isn’t just their abode some parents have been fibbing about – porkies are being told left, right and centre about exaggerated medical conditions, siblings that don’t exist and baptisms that never happened.
Some parents have even gone to the extremes of temporarily renting accommodation or moving their family into a caravan in the area to secure a desired school.
The whole thing is frustrating. Not everyone can live within the catchment area of the best schools, so sometimes we are forced to make the decision – to move house, or settle for a school that isn’t as good.
If a school is oversubscribed and you’re left with the one around the corner with the consistently poor Ofsted report and moronic head teacher, then you have about as much chance of rubbing two cotton wool buds together and creating fire as you have of doing anything about it.
The Department of Education has responded to this frustration, as it does, by promising us lots of stuff – radical education reforms and capital investment.
No, it is not right to lie. But is it right that some children have access to a better education because they live in a particular area?
Personally, I can see why parents would do it, whether I agree with it or not. We need and want our children to be educated, yet the quality varies significantly.
It is an area that is as grey as a pair of school trousers.