Our move to Ballarat started to feel a bit more real today, when Troy, Jericho, Soren and I toured their new school.
It’s all so different! The numbers are obviously the biggest change for us; there are about 550 kids there, which just seems enormous compared to what we’re used to. The school is also pretty new (it was built in 1987, to replace an old West Ballarat Primary school that was on Gillies street, which I thought was interesting) and because of that and because of being made for such big numbers it’s a really different physical space to our school too. There are several different buildings, and while they do have some portables most of the classrooms open off hallway space where the kids keep their bags and can eat their lunch or whatever if it’s raining. Actually, they’re really well off in terms of space, better then I thought they would be. Considering the numbers, and that the school is growing (there’s a whole new suburb being created just up the road, that so far only has a Catholic primary) the buildings were pretty spacious, there were several different play areas, and they have a really big oval. It’s also right next to the community recreation reserve, and so the kids are allowed to use the netball courts there at recess and lunch time. Maybe they go out for PE too, but they have a gym/community hall so I think they probably do pe inside most of the time. The uniform is green and yellow (or ‘bottle’ and ‘gold’ as Jericho informed me after he read the handbook) which looks okay. They learn Japanese for their LOTE. They do half a year of visual art and half a year of performing art. They send the grade 3 and 4s on a camp to Queenscliff every second year, but we’ve missed that for Soren. Jericho has also missed the grade 5 camp, but that was to Sovereign Hill and he went there in grade 3, so doesn’t mind. Camp in grade 6 is Canberra, so he thought that made up for it. The school does a swimming program, which our school hasn’t done for the past few years, so both the boys are looking forward to doing that.
I feel so much better about it after going there today. Honestly, I’ve been really apprehensive about the whole primary school situation – academically I knew that the boys would do well anywhere, but their social and emotional wellbeing is so important, and they’ve been served so well by the school we’re at now, that I was really terrified that I was about to do something that would end in disaster. And of course we won’t know until we’re there and they’ve had time to settle in, but at least after today I can see how it CAN work. The kids we saw were all busy doing things, there was lots of artwork and displays up everywhere, it seemed just the right amount of messy-neat for a school, and the lady who showed us around was lovely and sounded genuinely affectionate about the school, which I think is a good sign.
Probably the biggest factor that’s reassured me now though, is that Jericho and Soren liked it. I think the woman who showed us around was pretty surprised that we are looking so far ahead, but I’m so glad we did. Jericho especially was visibly more relaxed as the tour went on, and both he and Soren have mentioned things that they liked about the new school. They’re both still nervous about making friends, but I don’t think it will take either of them too long. I actually suggested to them that if they wanted to write a letter to their new teacher and introduce themselves, we could put it in with the enrolment forms when we send them, and maybe that would help their teacher find someone to look after them on the first day. I mean, with that many kids it shouldn’t be too hard to hook either of them up with another kid who likes Pokemon and drawing rather than footy, should it?
We dropped Nicholai and Emma’s enrolment forms off at the high school too. The person who took them was concerned that we had no proof of address with them, and said that they couldn’t really process them without that- they really are incredibly hardcore about their zoning. We left them anyway, and Troy emailed them a copy of our sale contract once we got home, so that’s done. I wouldn’t mind having a tour of that place- honestly it was hard just to find the front door.