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October, 2014

  1. The educational lottery

    October 24, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    We’ve just completed the online application process for L starting school in September 2015. It was harder than you think.

    When we moved to Milton Keynes we were a happy young couple, keen for a new start and excited at the prospect of having our own house with a view. We had no plans to have children and didn’t know that L would be popping along a few years later. As such, we didn’t consider the whole ‘family’ thing when we were looking at houses. Fast forward five years down the line and we realise we *do* have a lovely house in a lovely road, but the catchment schools? Yeeeeeah.

    At first we were okay with the catchment school, which we shall call Buckaroo High. As an ex-teacher, I know how much pressure can be felt during OFSTED inspections and how their report is not always a true indication of school life, so I glazed over the “Requires Improvement” grading. They were probably having a tough day.
    I popped in and asked if we could arrange a show around and was told they didn’t do that – once your application is in and you’re allocated the school, then you get to see what it’s like. Okay.
    But then someone on a large MK parents group asked for feedback on the school. I was expecting encouraging comments, anecdotes of children achieving and happily enjoying school life. Instead…



    Yep. Not one person came to the defence of Buckaroo High. I know it’s “just” a school, but every parent wants to give their child the best chance. We decided that Buckaroo High was not what we were aiming for.

    Cue a someone emotional search (I’m rubbish at this sort of thing, it weighs on me like I am letting my daughter, my country and planet down) for a school we had any hope of getting into. Not in catchment, no siblings already there, L isn’t in care or under supervision… Then along came a glimmer of hope in what we shall call Firefly Academy.

    An email asking about showarounds was replied to by the Vice Principal, no less, welcoming us in. We had a nose around today. It was lovely – the teachers looked chilled (it was the last day of term, to be fair) the children happy and not manic, older pupils were running errands around the school (Responsibility! Trust!), lots of incentives (a tea party with the headteacher at the end of the week to reward WOW pupils!). But you know what I spotted? Loads of resources. Happy kids. Happy parents on the way out – not begrudging, or fed up, or desperate – happy. Potential. The best chance.

    So that’s it. The forms are in. We have no hopes of getting into pretty much any other school in Milton Keynes (except Crappington School – *shudder*), so we’ve gone for Firefly Academy in at number one (please please please) and Buckaroo High in second (hey, it’s better than Crappington School).

    Now it’s just a quick 6 months before we discover our allocation – easy!

    *Runs and hides in the biscuit barrel*

  2. Top 10 Musicals: Anything Goes

    October 1, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Continuing on my top 10 musicals, here’s the last one on the list.

    Anything Goes (1934)

    In 1987, I knew the words to Anything Goes. In Mandarin. Sort of. Thanks to Indiana Jones and Temple Of Doom, I wanted to be that sparkly dressed lady singing a catchy tune (another pattern emerging here). In 2007, I was cast as Reno Sweeney in the musical of Anything Goes. I was given the chance, finally, and possibly the only time it will ever happen, to play the lead in a musical. It was incredible.


    We played to 1/3 full houses (the mistake of being a small group hiring a big theatre) but I didn’t care – I was having a ball, I wore sequined dresses, I danced with men (having been consigned to chorus up to this point in my life this had never happened) and I received standing ovations. It was a fantastic experience for me and has stayed with me since. I may not get the chance to be a leading lady again, but I will always have Reno.