There was never a question about which school I would attend as a child. My mother was definitely not an “old girl” of any private school establishment and my father, left-wing to the core, flew the flag for public schooling.
Plus, why on earth would they send me anywhere but the local school, directly across the road? While my neighbour looked splendid in her green private school attire complete with blazer and braid hat waiting for the private school bus to pick her up — this to me was all-manner of posh — I raced it across the street as the bell rang for line-up.
I never felt inadequate, though. It was a big multicultural school where everyone spoke a second language and a meat pie was a canteen novelty, because it was never, EVER, served up at home.
With the My School website and Rate My Teacher online forums threatening to hang out the education community for any teaching inadequacy perceived by parents and students, I can’t help but wonder what my parents would have made of the hoopla if it was around during my primary schooling years.
While the graphs, facts and figures all point matter-of-factly to the academic achievement of the school as a whole, they don’t weigh in the level of support and emotional growth that can be achieved in a school that is welcoming and staffed by good-hearted teachers.
You can bet my little public school will never rank among the private schools in the state. But when I chanced upon my Year 2 teacher at a recent function, I remembered everything that was great about attending it.
Over 20 years since she last saw me, we hugged in disbelief at how much time has passed. She remembered my name, I remembered how her brother’s car had been stolen outside our school gates one afternoon. The assumption was made the thief had used a coathanger to break into the car — why I still recall that piece of useless information is anyone’s guess.
From the outset, there wasn’t/isn’t anything remotely extraordinary about school. But I can remember the name of all of my teachers and know that every single one of them left an indelible mark on my life. And I don’t need a website to tell me how great my school was.