Well, we had an interview with a contender for school next year for Video Boy and Wombat Girl. The school we are looking at is a senior "college" here in the ACT - which is generally Yr 11 and 12. But a couple have a Yr 10 in College program. This college has a talented sports stream (uh no) and a talented maths and science stream, which is the one we are interested in. Apparently the majority of the kids in Yr 10 (about 2/3) do the sports bit, and around 8-10 do the maths/science bit. Maybe my two too!
We spent the morning filling in application forms - I will admit it was not without tears from a certain someone who struggled to come up with ideas about what she was good at and why they should accept her. After quite a bit of brainstorming, we converted those dot points into sentences. I was pretty proud of Video Boy's application to this task and he continues to impress me with his sense of humour and amazing vocabulary. I photocopied certificates from the various external exams and competitions the kids have done.
Then we drove to the school. I am (was) a high school teacher. I know what big schools are like and what the kids are like. But I have to say, as we walked up to the entrance of the building, with 18 year olds hanging around their (souped up) cars, smoking (!) and swearing, I was ready to turn right around and head back to the shelter of home! Huge hulking, boys lurked in corridors and they are SO LOUD. Bloody teenagers.
This auspicious beginning was not further enhanced by the response that the teacher we had made an appointment to meet was not at school, having had some kind of family emergency. Needless to say, we had not been contacted about this.
They got in touch with the Deputy Principal, who took us to his office. He didn't know much about the program, he told us, but he is a maths teacher and was interested in both the kids. The Principal joined us a short time later. Apparently quite a lot of staff are off sick with the flu, hence the hangers-around.
We chatted about the program. He asked about the kids strengths and weaknesses. He asked about their fears and goals. He was really positive man. Despite my reservations about all things school-like and that school in particular, I found myself warming to him.
Things in this school's favour:
- they have a specialised maths/science program, small as it is
- they are trying (as much as you can in a school) to focus on kids' strengths and passions and work around the other bits
- they have flexible options for getting through Yr's 10, 11 and 12 - not necessarily involving exams at the end
- they are looking at the Cambridge Programme for next year, which may work
- they have lots of good elective options to choose from.
The kids are amazingly positive. Video Boy is so mature about the whole thing and was able to express himself really well. Wombat Girl was her usual quiet self, and she is aware her confidence may be an issue in the rough and tumble of school. But she is still keen.
We will check out other options to be sure, to be sure. But it looks like the kids may give school a try next year!