She’d spent years getting excellent grades, revising different types of entrance exam (I glimpsed at the questions and nearly died) and racking up endless hobbies. Acting, dancing, crafts, even a brush with judo … If it’s an afterschool club, Emmy will join it. I can’t imagine where she finds the energy.
So when we finally had the results- a pass with flying colours- we shrieked and leaped around, passersby looking on bemused. Yes! The beginning of the rest of her life!
That’s reckoning without the uniforms.
In the past I’ve been all for them; looking over this Health Guidance article on the pros and cons, I found myself nodding in agreement. Who wants their kids to be jealous of other kids’ clothes, or teased because their parents aren’t wealthy? And if your kid keeps wandering off (Emmy did it all the time when she was little), you can pick them out of a crowd.
So yes. I liked uniforms. They were a good institution. They could stay.
Perhaps I’m naive. I, my mum, my nan- everybody in my family back to the year dot- went to comprehensives. To us, a school uniform consisted of a skirt, jumper and blazer. But what on earth were these? Boaters? Trilbies? Blue Aertex knickers?
I’ve never seen Emmy look so crestfallen. “I’ll look like a pillock, Mummy,” she said.
I grew up reading Malory Towers and St Clare’s, so they didn’t seem nearly as bizarre to me. If it had been the Hogwarts uniform she’d have been thrilled- but then Harry Potter doesn’t walk past the bus route every morning.
My heart stopped dead when I saw the prices. £100 for a blazer!!!
I stared at it, willing it to be a typo. But no- they seriously thought I, or any other self respecting parent, had a hundred pounds to spare! Shell shocked, I rang round everybody else I knew with a kid at the Grammar. Yes, that exorbitant amount was right. Yes, I was expected to dig into my own pockets.
I hopped online, praying for a miracle. Surely somewhere would sell the uniforms at a sensible price, preferably second hand? Cue protests from Emmy- “I can’t wear a second hand uniform!” Can’t please anyone.
At least I’ve company in my disbelief. Since my dilemma, BBC News have reported that uniforms are getting prohibitively expensive; the OFT are starting to put their oar in. Good for them, though a few months too late for me.
What on earth was I going to do? A hundred pounds was an enormous chunk out of the household budget. I couldn’t afford it for another three months- and Emmy was due to start school in less than four weeks.
There was nothing left for it. After asking friends for advice, they pointed me towards Speedy Dosh. I hadn’t used them before but I knew they offered very reasonable rates- and, most importantly, same day loans. It was amazingly straightforward. After requesting £100, they sent me the documents and pin number to log into the account. The money arrived in my account in a matter of hours.
So catastrophe was averted! Emmy still isn’t 100% sure about the uniform (“I look like my head’s stuck in a bowling ball!”) but she’s settled in and doing well. After a shaky start, I know we’ve made the right choice for her.