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Hard values

This summer we’re doing split family holidays – the toddler gets a holiday to ancestral lands with each parent and the baby gets no holidays. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for second children, I expect. The first ancestral holiday to Northern Ireland with Dad was this week – by all accounts a success.

On the ‘big aeroplane’

I’ve spent the last three days with a sick baby, but there has still been a surprising amount of free time when there’s just one kid. Hint hint, past Meri. Some things I’ve checked off the to-do list:

  • Washed and hidden a tiger costume which the toddler would certainly have stopped me from doing if he had been around
  • Took some overdue children’s books back to the library which the toddler would certainly have stopped me from doing if he had been around
  • Added Lewisham school data into my school choice project (a lot of the trains that come into London Bridge go through Lewisham, so)
  • Created a reading list about pensions, part of a Great Figuring Out around our family finances
  • Put a bunch of baby items for sale on eBay
  • Finally figured out what has gone wrong with a knitting project. I’m making my first cardigan, a project which I started more than a year ago and which ground to a standstill back in January or so. If you don’t think knitting is an intellectually challenging pastime, try intarsia. A spreadsheet was required to untangle it all.
  • Booked my UK Citizenship exam for October!

I also added a new data point to my informal survey of how other parents around here think about school choice. The mum of a child starting school next year spoke exclusively about the schools’ facilities – one nearby school is rumoured to be getting a new play area designed by someone who designed acclaimed playgrounds in Stratford. Another school she praised for being well lit, and so on. I think it’s another one for the ‘local as long as not horrible’ camp.

I wonder if there is a kind of social aversion to admitting that you’re interested in academic performance. It seems to be so rarely brought up, yet I think more parents than say so must be looking at it. Maybe parents think it’s too ‘hard’ of a factor to care about and that it’s better to care about soft values like how pleasant the grounds are.


  1. mary-ann mary-ann 12 August 2022

    we were definitely interested in the academics of the schools, but it’s hard to disentangle them. partly, cos the last published data was pre-covid and everything feels like it’s changed since. partly, because success is v much dependent on the starting point for the kids – so what would be a stretch for some will be idling for others. it requires good teachers and good leadership to do the best for each kid – and resources – at which point you’re back to softer values assessments! and estimating how much money they have for teaching based on the state of the lighting :D

    • Meri Meri 13 August 2022

      It is very hard to disentangle it – everything is a proxy, isn’t it? Maybe you could use the ‘progress’ scores to say how well a school is catering to the needs of different students. And there is data on school finance including how much is spent on teaching, but I haven’t done anything with it yet. I’m not sure where it comes in.

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