If you ask me...My tips for winning the battle of the school places

Plus, how to make your children feel they're at a fee-paying school

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, it’s that time of the year when the whole world and his wife get in a stew about schools, and the headlines come correspondingly thick and fast: parents falsifying addresses; applicants to fee-paying schools on the rise; Nick Clegg securing a place for his son at a massively oversubscribed Catholic school. But what are the facts, actually? Handily, I have collected a few here:

The Problem With State Schools

Percentage of middle-class children who are “gifted”: 100. Percentage of middle-class children who are “not stretched enough” in state education: 100. Percentage of middle-class children who only perform badly in such schools because they are “bored”: that same whopping 100 per cent! (What are the chances of that!)

Top Phrases For Winding Up Other Parents, Just For The Hell Of It

  • Read, read, read. That’s all Tom ever does. I even have to say to him: “What do you think we bought you an Xbox for? To gather dust?”


  • I wish he’d have a lie-in sometimes but, no, he’s always up with the lark, pursuing his Duke of Edinburgh award.


  • He said he wanted to learn the cello, so we bought him one, but once the novelty wore off he just wouldn’t stop.


  • We’re off to a class in something you’re not on to yet.


  •  Anything with the words “Westminster” and “scholarship” in it.


How To Make Your Children Feel They’re At A Fee-Paying School Even Though You Can’t Afford One: This is easily achieved by speaking in a dead language at home, wearing sunglasses on top of your head in all weathers, and pretending your old Nissan Micra is a tinted-windowed 4x4 you can double-park wherever you fancy. In fact, as other drivers get out of their cars to shake their fists and mouth obscenities though the back windows, your children will have no idea that they are not at one of the top private schools in the country. You may also wish to affect putting your entire life on hold, just because there is a school auction coming up.


A Teacher’s Lingo Translated

  • “Creative”: Nuts


  •  “Energetic”: Homicidal


  •  “A Lively Spirit”: Hate her guts


  •  “Mature For His Age”: Drinks


  •  “Good At Joining In”: Nazi tendencies.


When it all gets too much, remember this: although education is said to be the greatest gift you can give a child, I’ve generally found they are just as happy with any old crap from the Argos catalogue, like a Spider-Man figurine.