Education & Family

Annoying things parents say on secondary school admissions day

school girl Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Most families will receive their secondary school news by email from midnight on Monday 3 March

Tutors have been hired and fired, houses bought and sold, religious services regularly attended. The anxiety is nearly over and parents in England are finally finding out which state secondary school their children will be attending from September.

But secondary school admissions is an emotive business and can lead to some sticky moments with other families. Here are eight annoying things parents say or do:

1. Celebrating in the playground.

A measure of decorum is required for Monday's playground encounters. Public displays of relief and glee from parents who have secured desirable school places for their children is not de rigeur. Particularly for those who are in anything but a celebratory mood. The fate-deciding emails are scheduled to arrive in inboxes from midnight, so there should be plenty of time for celebrating families to get the cheering and back-patting out of the way before drop-off.

2. "We would have been very happy for Freddie to go the local state school."

Actions speak louder than words. If that were true, why fork out thousands of pounds a year on private school fees? Especially when Freddie won't be able to walk to school - with the friends in his road. A well-meant comment, no doubt. Designed to add no further provocation to the niggling paranoia of parents taking the state school route that Tom might not do quite as well as Freddie. Annoying nonetheless.

3. Dropping the faith.

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Image caption "We'd be here anyway... honestly."

For some, regular attendance at church or synagogue has been motivated less by religious fervour than a need to make it onto the recognition-radar of the vicar, priest or rabbi. It's worked - Halleujah! - he or she has signed the forms and you're in. But admitting to this phoney attendance in general playground banter is a sure way to annoy everyone - believers and non-believers alike.

4. Boasting on Facebook.

"We're so proud of Jonny - he was in the top 10 for the most competitive grammar school in town. Oh, and that's on top of the part-funded scholarship he was awarded for the independent school." All credit to Jonny, but this kind of post is unlikely to get very many likes from those whose children are embarking on a less sure-footed path to academic success.

5. Moving back.

The reality is that, under the sibling priority rule in England, parents could move to the moon having got a first-born child into a desirable (non-academically selective) school and still get places for their younger children. But parents who have moved house for a specific catchment area may find they get a frosty reception from old friends and neighbours if they move back to a former neighbourhood - with the better school places in the bag.

6. Sending a celebratory text to a friend...

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Image caption "Well actually, I'm not celebrating."

Only to find that this friend is not a happy bunny at all. But you were convinced Sangeeta would have got in too! One way or another though, it didn't work out for them, so that text "Lets celebr8. Coffee at mine X" was a bit premature.

7. Criticising a friend's decision.

In jest or in pique, having a friend criticise the choices made for one's child is bound to cause offence. It may mean a friendship is never quite the same again. Fair or not fair, tutoring, going private, moving, attending religious services are all strings to the secondary school place bow.

8. Letting disappointment show.

Time for that good old stiff British upper lip! Kids have an uncanny way of picking up on parents' inner concerns. It's good for them if their parents are positive about the institution where they will spend many a, hopefully happy, hour. And research has suggested a supportive family background is what really counts. Besides, who wants to give ammunition to other parents with a penchant for Schadenfreude?

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