Changing Schools – Well That Happened Quickly

So it became, that yesterday was H’s last day at the school with classmates she has been with since nursery. Things are moving quickly, much quicker than I thought they would and we’re having to deal with changing schools.

Changing schools isn’t a quick process overall. We’re changing boroughs, so once we knew we were going to move, got the paperwork in place. Croydon borough have an in-year transfer which was straightforward to fill out. We got H’s old head teacher to approve our application, emailed it over and that was that.

Nothing could be done in the meantime as schools went on holiday – which meant lots of waiting and wondering what would happen. As it was, Croydon did some general waiting list tidying and we were told where our position on the list would be a few weeks later.

At that point she was third on the list for our preferred school. Once we sent over confirmation of our new address she moved to first in the list.

So we knew a place was imminent, but that would depend on someone leaving the school and that’s impossible to gauge.


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I settled into a routine with a 25 minute a day drive home from her old school, hoping for change. Shaun lost two and a half hours of his day driving her into school on days when he worked from home. Not ideal.

On Wednesday the call came. There’s a space. I may have jumped around excitedly, asked a billion questions and made viewing appointments; we couldn’t go during the holidays for obvious reasons – there was nobody there!

That was that. We decided to switch quickly though this gives very little time for goodbyes. A new start, a new school. New school uniform too, though most of her old uniform is fine.

So now we have a weekend buying new school uniform. Our new school uses the Tesco embroidery service so I’ve ordered. We’ll get other bits so we can get through the next couple of weeks until our order arrives.

My trusty Stamptastic pad is ready for more labelling too – my review is five years old and we’re still going strong.

Emotionally, H was shocked. I had brought up changing schools several times in conversation to get her used to talking about it. This is the reality now – she has left her old friends behind, but thanks to mobile phones and emails they can stay in touch.

The new school looks amazing too – we finally have a school with a playing field, rather than an inner-London playground. We’ll all miss the old school a lot, while looking forward to new adventures as we move forwards.


Reading Eggs – A Reading Tool for Children

Reading Eggs is a website that endeavours to help children to read quickly, in a fun and engaging way.

I’m sure that most parents, of a primary school aged child, will appreciate the pressure that is on children to learn to read.  My son, J, started reception in September, unable to read and barely able to write. However, by July, he will be expected to read well and be able to write a sentence or two. Frankly, to me anyway, this is scary stuff.

Now I am a complete bookworm and very keen for my boys to discover how fantastic reading can be. As a result, I had been curious about Reading Eggs but had never gone as far as to try it. I was excited to be given a years free access to the site and the Mega Book Pack to really explore and see what it was all about.

I will be completely honest. J is knackered, and still getting to grips with his full days at school. I will admit to being a little hesitant at giving him more school type things to do in the evening. However, in the name of research, I was willing to give it a go, as long as he wasn’t too tired or resistant.

On browsing the Reading Eggs site, I was very keen to get J on there to see his first impressions. The site itself is very engaging, bright and friendly. As his computer skills are just emerging, it was nice to see that everything is very user friendly and self explanatory. He only needed a little adult guidance in the beginning. Each of the initial levels concentrate on one letter at a time. These letters, and the sounds they make, are studied thoroughly, but not to the point of tedium, before moving onto the next level.

Reading Eggs J1Reading Eggs J2

J really enjoyed his time on the Reading Eggs site. He was giggling when the marshmallow mouse came out,  at the end of the first level, and at various other things. In the end, we spent a lot longer than we had planned to spend on there. J was very put out when I insisted it was very much time for bed!

After bed time, I came down to find an email from Reading Eggs with suggested homework. The homework focuses on the most recent lessons learnt, and easy ways that this can be supplemented at home.

Two weeks on and he is still hooked. I love the fact that J also has his own personal Avatar for the site. This is something that he really enjoyed making, and he gets excited to see, every time he switches on. J loves Reading Eggs, most days asking ‘can I do my eggs Mummy’ whilst his little brother goes to bed. It’s really nice to spend this time together, knowing that he is learning in a way that is fun to him.

Reading eggs are currently offering a four week free trial to the online subscription. Please click here if you would like to register. Offer is available until the 31st March 2017.

It’s SATs Week

So here we are, a week into SATs and all the stuff that comes with it. We were assured by H’s school that the children wouldn’t be aware they were being tested, and it was all quite gentle which was reassuring.

Then came Tuesday. She fell over in the playground and bumped her head which ended up with me rushing her to A&E once she started feeling groggy. After being checked over and being told she was fine we headed back home, where she had perked up and for once decided to tell us about her school day. (we’ve been having a lot of the “I can’t remember” and “oh stuff” when I’ve asked what she has done that day)

“We had tests today Mummy!” she announced. Hm.

“and we had two yesterday” she added.

Now I’m not blaming the school. Maybe my child is really clued up with what’s going on and sees through the softly softly approach.

“I really like these tests because I get to sit at a desk all on my own!” she added. Apparently all the other children in class have to share a table. I’m not sure why H gets one to herself, and didn’t really ask.

Well, I sort of joked. “Ah, is that so you don’t copy anyone else’s work?”

My six year old looked mortally offended.

Shaun piped up with raised eyebrows which were telling me to shut up “or is it that they don’t want anyone to copy your work”, to which I backed up with an “oh, yes yes, it’ll be that won’t it?” thus giving my child an enhanced version of her own achievements. Well done parents.

She now tells me they had a fourth test today, and it was “lots of fun”??!!?!!? (must take after her dad…)

Anyway, H still plays schools, and often Shaun or I are the pupils while she’s the teacher. I guess this leads to us having tests now in our role play. I can only hope she doesn’t leak them early on a website or change them without anyone having time to prepare anything so the year are doomed to fail before they’ve even started.

I mean, it’s not like anyone would do that to our kids now, would they.

Oh. Hang on….

School Choice Day

I hope everyone got the schools they wanted. We got our results today too.

See, we’re in this slightly odd scenario of H being at the local Infants School, and having to apply for the Junior school that most of the kids go on to. They even keep them in the same classes (which is a relief, I’ve only just memorised the names of the children in her class) – so it was a fairly safe bet we would get a place there.

Except, of course, we don’t know what’s happening with our house. As I posted about way back when I was still a bit in shock of it all, we had the leaky flue in the loft. I haven’t felt sick once since our heating was turned off, and our landlady is mulling over whether to get central heating installed or replace the flue. If the latter happens we’re never switching the heating on again, so will leave this house. If the former happens, we’ll stay. So having to think about moving house and getting the school place has happened at a confusing time. We don’t know what’s happening and probably won’t for another week or two. We’re great tenants, but unfortunately great tenants who have been exposed to carbon monoxide does not equate to wanting to keep us in the house. But that’s another rant for another place.

Because now we know H’s Junior School! Yet strangely I didn’t feel as stressed, probably because I don’t know what’s going to happen these coming months. The result came through at 5pm when I was at Rainbows, so had to irresponsibly hide under a table to check the text from Shaun, then let H know everything is fine and she has the school she wants.

The Junior School choice was a bit weird anyway. There only seemed to be religious schools who *might* offer places – her current school isn’t a church-affiliated one. That or they were over the other side of Sutton. So really, anywhere else wasn’t happening. Slowly word is coming in and most of the class are all confirming they’re moving over the road too.

Now if only all decisions could be like this, it would save us a lot of stress! So that’s two half terms left to go at this school, and making sure I replace any uniform with things that will be worn at the new one – who of course, being an academy have a completely different colour for their uniform, and you can only wear official school jumpers or cardigans – not cheaper shop ones. Whatever happens we’ve got our Bandino Cup Bands and our Stamptastic stampers both still going strong and labelling clothes and drink cups perfectly.

That’s one less thing to think about anyway.

Project 365 – Week 27

Sunday 28th June. I woke up at midnight, after collapsing on the settee after the BBQ, as it was England’s crucial game against Canada – which we won. Which I managed to stay awake through, and couldn’t then sleep for an hour afterwards, taking me to around 3.30am. It was stressful – but so enjoyable. There have been so many people I’ve chatted to who have talked down the Women’s World Cup, and it makes me want to cry. You have women representing our country, who are amazing ambassadors, no scandal, no overpaid spoilt brattishness (some of them even have full time jobs) – just women proud to be playing, amazed they’ve achieved so much, and belief. It has been amazing and I’m so proud and looking forward to the FA Cup Final on the 1st August. H’s home learning was to write about an Olympic sport, though we’ve since found out there’ll be no Team GB at the Rio Olympics which is a great shame. H will have to cheer Australia instead.

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Monday 29th June. New glasses. I almost forgot it was time for H’s annual check, booked her in at a local opticians on the high street, and within an hour we’d had the test (her eyes are the same as last year which is good) and had chosen her glasses for this year. I was particularly pleased as these ones were free NHS ones – they’ve changed so much these days. The whole thing didn’t cost me a penny.

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Tuesday 30th June. Picking up H’s glasses after school, we wandered back through the village. It was lovely and warm, and we stocked up on ice lollies, stopping for a quick break by the ponds (and a sneaky Feast). After having had my love of Carshalton taken away for a bit, it’s creeping back again. I like that we’re in London but it doesn’t feel like you are. You can still get a bus to Heathrow (and pay with your Oyster), taking just an hour and a half. We’re close, but not too close even if the rents are astronomical. If you close your eyes enough and use your imagination, that isn’t All Saints Church by the ponds, it’s a mysterious castle.

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Wednesday 1st July. This was the hottest day of the year, the day when Southern Trains really messed up and I finally snapped (translate – started another blog which collects my bad Southern Trains poetry that I write when the trains are delayed – it’s in the public’s interest for them to be on time now otherwise more bad poems will occur), the plumber fixed our two leaks, and it was hot hot hot. So Shaun got the paddling pool out the night before, and after school we sat in it and it was SO good.

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Thursday 2nd July. Of course, there should be a photo here. But I forgot to take one of the England game, which reduced me to a mixture of sadness (the way we were knocked out) and relief (the third place game kicks off at 9pm), but yes, I stayed up until 2am watching the football, and as soon as the whistle went I was back to bed. Midnight kick off’s are not good things on a working day. I even had to have a weak coffee – my first caffeine since November.

Friday 3rd July. We didn’t make it to Andy’s wake in The Sun on Thursday due to many reasons, so popped in on Friday to raise a glass and learn to crochet. Which, incredibly, I picked up really easily. I’m not sure how – but after customising the way I hold things and knowing what was important and what wasn’t, somehow I cracked it. Which was quite surprising as the first time I tried I was hopeless and we gave up. So yeah, crochet! Let’s just get it finished now…

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Saturday 4th July. England’s last World Cup game, and our school fair. H has football of course, which Shaun has taken her to. I said “I want to take a photo of you in your kit. Do a World Cup pose” (as the players almost always have their arms folded) so she did this one. If your girl plays football and you’re taking pictures, don’t forget about the Football Association’s We Can Play campaign – right now it is an amazing time for girls to love football, so many more opportunities are being created, and it’s exciting. Football has never just been for boys – it’s for everyone.

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Back to School with Matalan School Uniform

Half term is only two weeks away, and H has been wearing her Matalan school uniform daily – I think it’s time we did a quick mid-term report!

There is a wide variety of Matalan school uniform options online – I ordered H’s when we were in Australia back in August, where I only had use of my iPad. The whole experience was simple enough (although if I navigated away I lost the order, so needed to make a note of what I wanted and order it at once) – delivery was speedy too, despatched within a day of me placing the order which impressed me.  The Matalan website has a School Shop section where you can view the whole range – our local store doesn’t keep everything available online in stock.

I love that Matalan stock longer-length skirts – H is a tall girl (she grew over 2cm this summer!), has only just turned 5 and is quite skinny – she’s already wearing a lot of size 6 clothes. Alas, they don’t seem to have longer length trousers, which I would definitely have bought.

So here’s what was in the order :

Matalan Uniform

Two Empire line pinafore dresses £6 each, age 6. I love these – the style makes us think ‘Wizard of Oz’ with a little cross across the back – which can be a bit tricky on PE days so we tend to wear them on the days she doesn’t have it. I went for age 6 which fits her perfectly.

Matalan Uniform

Two Gingham Dresses with tie belt at £6 each. These look identical to the ones on H’s school uniform website and cost £6 each. They wash well too – with the warm weather and the fact they can wear summer dresses up to half term I bought age 7 so hopefully they’ll last for the summer as well – though who can tell with the speed she’s growing.

Two Girls Scallop Edge Cardigans, age 6-7 at £6 each. I like plain cardigans with summer dresses – the school ones come in a sweatshirt type material which is often too warm for hot weather. So far the cardigan is washing well as well.

Matalan Uniform

Two Girls Longer Length Box Pleat Skirt, age 6 at £5.50 each. As said before, I love there’s a longer length available. There is an adjustable waistband too – ideal as H is tall and skinny! Matalan, please consider doing longer length girls trousers too!

Finally, I bought two packs of Polo Shirts, which come in packs of 3 at £5 each. Her older polo shirts are getting small, so these are ready and will probably be in daily use after half term.

The total cost of the Matalan School Uniform came to £59. I had a £50 voucher which took it down to £12.95 including shipping. Everything was in stock, despatched quickly and well packed – and has washed and ironed well over the last six weeks. We’ve had a few tumbles  in the playground and so far no holes which is a very good thing.

I would highly recommend Matalan School Uniform – it is priced well – I need to look at their shoes next, as H has moved up a size (sighhh, stop growing..!!) and is learning to tie laces – they have some lovely looking brogue-style shoes – plus she’ll probably need some new plimsolls soon, and at £2.50 you can’t complain!

I was provided with a £50 voucher for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. Photos were taken when the uniform originally arrived and are just a guide.

School Uniform – End of Year Report

We’re coming to the end of H’s first year of school, so I thought it was the right time to go through our School Uniform experiences, and what we’ve found has lasted through the year – and what hasn’t.


I remember last year in a month or so’s time hitting the stores, trying to find somewhere that stocked school uniform – most shops stopped for the summer. The good thing is that right now a lot of places will be having sales – M&S often do a good one, and it’s where I picked up a lot of H’s school uniform.

My biggest mistake was to buy school uniform in her actual size as she tends to go up a size after Christmas, so I ended up buying two sets in her first year – I should have just gone bigger initially.

M&S’s quality was great – I bought two packs of polo shirts (two in a pack – why don’t they do five packs?) and they washed well and didn’t lose their shape. Actually, my biggest initial concern was that H didn’t know how to do up buttons, but that didn’t take long to master.


As well as that I got one summer dress as we were heading into the colder months but could wear them up to the end of Autumn half term. The dress has been worn a few times in Summer term this year, although it’s quite short now – so buy big for summer clothes! We’ve since bought another dress in Matalan in a size 6 which should last a year. Matalan have a great selection of school uniform at a good price too.

I bought two pairs of trousers and two skirts from M&S in size 4, which lasted until H grew but lasted well – many tumbles in the playground and no holes in the trousers are always a good sign. When she grew I kept with M&S for the trousers but switched to Sainsburys for the skirts which were cheaper and are good quality too.


I also bought a Next school skirt in size 4 which is still being worn – we’ve often found H grows out of Next clothes first but this one has lasted and isn’t too short.

Shoes were the next concern, as you want to buy a pair that lasts. Our Clarks pair lasted until this Summer half term when H’s feet had grown a size and she really needed a new pair. Unfortunately they didn’t have the same kind in, so we got a similar pair with a patent leather toecap on it, which is wearing away a little a month or two in which is disappointing. If they get her old shoes back in we’ll definitely go back to them (and I might buy another pair a size up). PE shoes were £2.50 in Sainsburys, and have lasted well.

clarks dance step infant shoes

Jumpers and cardigans were official school uniform ones, however we did have some plain in case I didn’t wash them in time, which were kindly passed on to us by Sharon at I Heart Motherhood – they are from Aldi and are going strong, wash well and haven’t faded.

Legwear is the final thing to mention – I bought loads of pairs of ankle socks, but when the weather got warmer H wasn’t used to exposing her legs, so ended up buying some knee length socks from Next – £4.50 for three pairs and they’ve stayed white too! Tights were an interesting purchase. I bought some nice H&M ones that cost a fair bit, but when she fell over the holes made them unrepairable (even with my poor needlework skills). Eventually I bought a seven pack in Sainsburys which stayed intact for her worst fall (blood and everything) so I’m pleased with that – five pairs are still in the packaging too, and I bought age 6 for the length (H is 120cm).

We’ve had tumbles and falls, climbing and playing, tripping and skipping, scootering and possibly Didicars (don’t quote me on that, it’s some kind of car I don’t get to see) and overall everything we’ve bought has survived. But there’s one thing which nothing seems to fix at all. We have tried so many ways to make it stop, but it doesn’t – the dreaded white board marker pen marks on everything. The day someone designs school uniform which doesn’t hold those blasted pen marks on them will be the day I spend all my money and stop cursing the pens!

So the final grade for school uniform? Let’s base them on the Early Years Foundation Scores, shall we?

M&S. I’d say is easily a Exceeding 3. They’re slightly more expensive but so far have lasted. I’ve had no repairs to make to anything.

Next. Ends the year an Exceeding 3 due to not being too small despite me ordering a 4. The skirt was around £6 and has lasted which is all I ever ask of anything.

Aldi. Started the year as an Emerging 1 and ending as an Exceeding 3 – due to the lasting quality and the price (had we bought it).

Clarks. Tricky one this one – for the first pair of shoes I’d say an Exceeding 3, but for the second pair an Emerging 1, going down a little. I can only hope they bring back the original shoes.

Sainsburys. For the skirts and tights we’ve bought, I’d say an Exceeding 3 – good quality, no repairs and surprisingly good. My local Sainsburys didn’t have much for clothes and the Wandsworth branch was being refitted so I couldn’t buy there initially, but the tights impressed me the most for being so hardy. I was impressed that our local one had a list of the colours for all the local schools so you know what to buy.

Matalan. Because the dress is so new I feel we can’t grade it over the year, so it’s an Expected 2, and it’s just time which will lead to a conclusion.

Dear Parents of Summer Babies,

I’m sending you a little letter on here to reassure you about school, especially since H started in Reception last September.

I’m pretty sure she’s the youngest in Reception, a late August baby.

From the moment she was born, we were told things like “oh, she’ll struggle at school but at least she’ll get weighting” and “oh dear, a young one” – like her future was already set out. (btw, weighting doesn’t exist any more)

Fortunately, her future is decided entirely by her; with guidance and support along the way from Shaun and I as parents, plus her teachers at school.

Yesterday we had her first report, and happily she’s ahead of most targets and is doing well. So parents of summer babies, don’t fret. Go with your child’s lead. H loves reading – she always has. The minute words stopped becoming individual phonics sounds and she was able to decode them, there was no turning back.

When we found out that her numeracy could do with some work we signed up to Eggy Numbers, the Reading Eggs numeracy app to support her learning through simple games. Actually, in reception the most they’re expected to do is recognise numbers up to 20 so this is ideal. I can highly recommend all the Eggy Numbers games anyway, as well as the Eggy Alphabet ones.

Let your child find their way. H loves creating things and doing pictures, arty things as well as music, yet that was her lowest score. Score. Sounds wrong when you’ve Reception-age children. But that’s how it is. Her work isn’t bad, it’s the expected level, but that gives us something to work on for next year – she’s already said she’d like to learn the recorder and the violin.

She might not be the best at everything, but I don’t want her to be the best. I want her to do HER best, and that’s all I can ask of her. She’s done me proud this year, and I know Year 1 will be a challenge as it’s getting into proper school work, but she’ll manage. If not, we’ll deal with it.

My main point though, it’s not a braggy “oo look my daughter has done well” post – it’s a “don’t listen to people who tell you your child won’t do well because of when they are born” – I spent almost three terms fretting she wouldn’t keep up thanks to the way I’d been programmed to think, and actually she’s done marvellously.

So yes, that’s all really. You’ll panic, we all do. Your child will get there, it isn’t too bad. Honestly. This time next year hopefully you’ll be breathing normally again too.

me x