London visit

The past week has whizzed by in a hectic but satisfying series of events in London.

I came primarily to attend a party celebrating the launch of a book, but packed in shoe shopping, visiting an old friend and undertaking some fruitful family research.

And of course I was able to spend some time with my two families (and my sister, Deb). I managed to walk each child to school at least once.

Amazingly three of the four are, at least in theory, in new schools. Only Willow (nearly 6) has moved from Reception to year one in the same building. Otto (7) has moved to the nearby Dulwich Village Junior School – in essence a continuation of the infants school.

Ella (nearly 8) made the biggest move, from her local primary (which is struggling) to Belham Primary, a new school (opened 2015) nearer Peckham. Several of her friends have also moved, but she has already made new ones – one of the reasons for moving her. Ella’s and Otto’s schools are academies (in the same group, sharing the same head teacher)  I don’t approve of the move from direct local authority control to academies, but it does appear that these are two good, dynamic schools with enthusiastic staff and happy children

Maddie (4 last April) has also started primary school (hard to believe). There was not a place for her at Belham, but she is on the waiting list and with a sister now there should move up the list. Meanwhile,  rather than move her twice, Ed and Jude have kept her on at her excellent but private (so expensive!) nursery school, which has a small private infants school attached. What a luxury: to be in a class of 15, with lessons in French and swimming, excellent meals and lovely purpose-built buildings. What a shock when she finally moves to the state system with classes twice the size! But for the moment it really suits Maddie, who had been totally opposed to the idea of school and is anyhow very young to be starting. She loves it and gives breathless accounts of the day which seem to be cycles of play, tidy up time, bit of learning, more play …

What is nice is that all four are happy at school, have plenty of friends and are (on the whole) enjoying education. While I was staying with the Gillies (I divided my time between the two households)  Otto, who struggles with numbers, brought home a very grand certificate for perserverance in maths, presented in front of the school.  Bravo Otto, keep on trying.

Otto and Willow also have a busy week of activities: ballet, individual swimming lessons and taikwondo. I watched Otto’s taikwomdo class and was converted from sceptic to enthusiast – at least for Otto in these early stages. There is a lot of emphasis on qualities like concentration and balance



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