Matthew Munson: SATs are over and St George;s beckons

Matthew and Bryan

Well, there you have it; SATs are over, and all is well with the world. Bryan was relieved when it was all done, but also pleasantly surprised when he realised that he might well know more than he was worried that he did – he actually could answer the questions in the exam papers.

I have to say, the school did well in preparing them for the event; there had been some mock exams a few weeks ago, and lots of practice and soothing words (as well as croissants and polos offered every day – separately, it has to be said) – which Bryan also got at home as well. I reassured him that he just needed to do his best, and that there was no shame in not knowing an answer – or, shock horror, getting a question wrong every now and then.

SATs only measure certain skills, of course, and Bryan is so much more than just those skills; he is clever, funny, and full of life, as well as so much more. I absolutely cannot keep up with him, and that’s not a complaint; he just has more energy than me (he’s 11, that’s not really a surprise). My knees hurt, my back hurts (I pulled a muscle the other day stepping off a kerb, so that reassures me I’m well and truly into middle age), and there’s nothing I like more than a nice sit down; Bryan plays tennis, goes dancing, and gallops up the stairs to our flat like he’s in a race with himself, and he’s still alert enough to race around the flat like his life depends on it. I’m not always able to keep up – I just need a sit down and a quiet ten minutes before I’m ready to face the next thing – but I do try.

I was delighted to see that Ellington Park has a fair this Sunday with some music and stalls, so I’ll be taking Bryan over there to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunshine. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll probably be back home; the beauty of deadlines can sometimes play havoc with timings, but there you have it. We will have had a lovely time, because we spent some time together, and that’s lovely.

St George’s, Bryan’s secondary school, begins to beckon ever more. On Monday, I’ll be taking him to the first of six after-school sessions where he gets to sample a mini-lesson while I listen to and meet staff from different topics. I’m quite looking forward to it, and so is Bryan, but of course it means that his time at Bromstone is growing ever short. I know he’ll miss his school, as it’s been good for him (even though the pandemic wasn’t) but St George’s will help him grow even more. Once he’s there, he will thrive, as he’ll get to explore subjects in great depth, meet new teachers, and get really stuck into secondary school life.

The transition period is so much more thought out, at least at St George’s; there are six, one-hour sessions over six Mondays for Bryan and I to learn more about the school, and then a full day transition in July just for Bryan (well, for all the new intake – you know what I mean). He’ll be more confident going to his new school in September than I was in September 1992 (oh god, that’s 30 years ago – what the hell happened?).

I went to Holy Cross in Broadstairs, which is now long gone (the school, not the town). One of the teachers came to visit us at our primary schools, and then we turned up to our first day. There wasn’t much in the way of prep, and we’re better for it now that things are changing; Bryan can get so much more out of this experience, and I know he will utterly embrace it. I am thankful to be the father of a child who loves learning, and it doesn’t occur to him to do anything other than throw himself into this new opportunity.

I will, of course, be Bryan’s biggest cheerleader, and bend over backwards to make sure he has the support he needs to thrive. I can’t wait to see what September brings for him.