How I learned to stop worrying and realised that school is just a small cog

15 June 2015 by Ian Gurling, FIA Awarding Organisation Manager

Becoming a father for the first time is a magical experience but with approximately four months still to go until we get to meet our child (no we don’t know the sex), I find myself feeling a little removed from the whole experience.

Of course my fiancé has gone through all of the physical sensations, the nausea, fatigue, little ‘un moving and kicking but that is happening to her. The grandparents are excited, but they’ve been there, done that and know what’s going on. While for me setting aside the moving of my study to be replaced by a nursery, I remain somewhat distanced by biology.

I’m sure this will be different for all fathers and I am certainly looking forward to the days we go out together, I teach him or her climbing and skiing, I stand enthusiastically cheering on the touch line of whatever sport they chose (so long as it’s not football) but that’s a long way off.

Instead, as a learning professional, I started looking at tangible things like education.

Among the reports of education failing our children, funding cuts, lack of teachers or school places and the old favourite not starting on languages early enough. I was, I guess, shocked to see a report that at 12 weeks pregnant, expectant mothers are now registering for places at nursery schools, with one case reported of a woman attempting to register before she had even conceived. I hope at least she had the foresight to register with a partner early enough. This begs the questions, are school standards (even at nursery school level) so disparate that we need to plan so far ahead?

With league tables, education statistics, schools specialising by subject and even schools that are not tied to the national curriculum, the world is your lobster; choosing the education for your child should be a simple process. In spite of all this, speaking to the neighbours and noting the crowd of teachers who have stepped outside of the school grounds for their fagbreak, the choice remains limited. Of course we want the best for our child and were just going to have to get it by any means possible.

Without realising it I had another source of education, one that I will certainly be turning to with my own child. That is the education provided by parents. As a child I was supported and encouraged in my interests, helped through my homework and encouraged to develop an inquisitive and imaginative mind. My parents taught me to “look it up” when I didn’t know, encouraged me to experiment and try out ideas and to have the strength of character to learn for myself. My plan therefore is to support my child, develop that inquisitive mind with the tools to question and learn, a skill that will prove valuable not only at school but in the wider working world.

So in the face of the pre conception nursery placement, school it is just one cog in a far bigger engine.