Back To School: baked beans, Gove and the high cost of shorts

It was always the Woolworths window that did it for me. There it was – first day of August, sun blazing – and the poster screamed, ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’. Smart shirts, itchy jumpers and innumerable pencil case/A4 binder combinations were displayed for all to see.
I remember as a girl of nine or ten feeling that it was horribly unfair that I had barely broken the back of my summer fun and a window dresser somewhere was determined to spoil it.

I still feel it is important to relish the long routine-less days of summer as long as possible and have resisted a Back To School blog. But it’s Bank Holiday Monday in England today, and for many it will be the last proper family day off before the new term starts. It’s time to embrace That Shiny Shoes Feeling.

Forget January, all jumper-wrapped, flabby and exhausted from the festive season, for a lot of parents of school age children the real New Year falls in September. It’s the best time for resolutions to stick (we’re energised; must-dos seem more doable) and to make a fresh start. Its both time for our children to settle in to a new class but also for us to start looking ahead at their next steps. It may be your son’s final year in primary school but you are probably already starting to think about the move to Big School next September. (Eeeeek – already?! Seems like just yesterday he started Reception. I know... I know...) Or it could be your daughter’s final year of GCSEs and thoughts are turning to Sixth Form places and all-important application forms that loom later in the autumn. Either way, we hope School Guide will be your companion to compare schools and see which is the right option in your area for your child. Stack up stats, compare results and contact schools to find out when they have scheduled an Open Day. We’ll add a blog on how to make the most of school open days in the next couple of weeks.

Summer doesn’t mean everything stops, however, as many of the parents well know who have frantically been juggling work and play all August long. Nor does school news stop making the headlines. There has been a debate over the rising costs of school uniform (1 in 4 now have to borrow to foot the back to school bill says the Citizens Advice Bureau; a dip in top grade A Levels  and teenagers taking less language subjects, question marks raised over GSCE students taking exams too early and Education Secretary Michael Gove has welcomed what one newspaper has called “more varieties of schools than Heinz” with 118 types including 93 new free schools opening their doors this September.

We’ve been busy in the School Guide office too. We’ve finished adding Welsh and Scottish school data to our site and even found time to launch our School Guide App for iPhone. You can download it here. It geo-locates your nearest schools and crunches all their numbers in the palm of your hand.

For now, enjoy your last day/days/week of the summer holidays. Days that have a different rhythm, uniform and even menu. We don’t have to stop the ice cream o’clocks just yet.