Saturday, 5 September 2009
Son's new school sets me homework!
My son looked resplendent in his new dark green school blazer and tie for his first day of secondary school yesterday. Suddenly he looks all grown up. Time has passed so quickly.
I still remember my first day at secondary school. Me and the boys going by ourselves on the train to Teddington in our brand new school uniforms, messing about on the train. We threw paper at each other, climbed on the seats and made loads of noise. What fun!
I also remember my second day at school. The second morning, at Assembly in front of the whole school, the Headteacher slapped his cane on the table and shouted "Four new boys were seen in the school uniform, THE SCHOOL UNIFORM, messing about on trains. If you were one of those boys STAND. UP. NOW." All 1,000 boys sat in complete expectant silence. Then one by one Tom, Stephen, Steve and Ross (not necessarily in that order) stood up, quivering like jelly and as the whole school looked on sniggering, we made our way to the Head's office to be disciplined!
These days caning is out and health and safety is in. No more horrible Mr "VZ" taking a run up and whacking boys with his trainer. It's forms, forms, forms now. There are so many forms to fill in when your child is going to a new school. Clubs to join, health and safety to worry about and the trickiest of all - the Ethnic Origin form.
This school has a long and complex list of options available for me to tick to identify my lad's ethnic origin. It was easy to dismiss most of the options - Irish traveller, Polish etc. But then we were left with these "black" choices:
Black and any other ethnic group
Other black African
White and black African
White and black
Well this is not as easy as we thought. Let us consider the situation.
My son was born and has lived his whole life in England. He is a south London, rugby playing, Fulham football club supporting geezer. One of his parents was also born and grew up in London of Caribbean parents. The other parent was born in London with a white English (plus a quarter Irish) mother and a Nigerian father.
So what variety of "black" is my boy? I puzzled and puzzled. I could of course have opted out and just not ticked one of the boxes but I think its no bad thing for the school to be aware of the diversity (0r not) of its student population. Finally after much thought and voices saying "oh for goodness sake, just tick something" I came up with an answer.
I'll tell you what I did later, but what would you have ticked?