A little boy reading his homework, circa 1950. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

French with tears

Claudia Savage-Gore bravely faces up to disastrous seven-plus results

Hot House

So the seven-plus offers came out, and Hector didn’t get into either of our chosen Eton/Westminster feeders and I’m massively bummed out. I really resent that phrase “get in” — it makes it so bloody exclusive. What are these preps — members’ clubs?

Will kept wanging on about a piece in the Spectator that said one in eight children don’t get into their first choices at seven-plus, which obviously didn’t make me feel any better. One in eight! It’s not exactly Harvard.

And everyone else in his class got into their schools. At least the nanny does all the school runs so I don’t have to face anyone and get the pitying head tilt.

The day we got the results we also had to go to a sodding awful dinner party at my friend Marina’s where there was this unacceptably smug French mother going on about how her child Enzo had got into Westminster Under School and The Hall and she didn’t know which would best suit his GCSE-level maths, plus his “exhausting” physicality (imagine this pouted in a French accent).

I mean, end-of-term gifts for teachers is always several hundred in spa vouchers and Diptyque candles.

Why can’t Enzo sod off to the Lycée, South Ken? I told her that we’d decided to keep Hector at his current prep because of the incredible pastoral care, which we personally placed over academics, and she said, “Oh really? I guess some kids do need that support, don’t they? We have the opposite with Enzo, he just gets so bored when he’s not challenged.” Like Hector had SEN or something. FFS.

Speaking of which I massively put my foot in it with a mother of a friend of Lyra’s who’s just been diagnosed with dyslexia. Trying to make her feel better, I said, “Well at least now you know she’s not just underachieving,” and this woman went off on a rant on mental health in kids and pressure to achieve. Like I’m not aware! It’s my mental health that’s at fucking stake. Hector could do with a bit more internal pressure, frankly.

Anyway, as far as Hector’s concerned he’s staying at his prep because his best friend Alessandro is staying too, and they’re both doing so well at fencing. Hector’s a simple soul, so he accepted this. Oh God, I’m going to cry. Don’t hug me, don’t. It’s fine, it’s really fine. I just don’t want my baby to get left behind by everyone else.

It’s so brutal, and he’s only seven! Why didn’t they want him? And our meeting with the heads went so well. Just feels like the end of a chapter of hope. I’d got ridiculously attached to the idea of dropping him at Highgate on my flexitime Fridays, having a quick coffee in Gail’s. Dreams dashed. There’s still the last resort, which is to pay for a new music wing or similar at your chosen school if you didn’t get a place first time (standard practice, especially in Notting Hill, and failsafe). But since fitting the wine cellar we’re only just about keeping up with essentials.

I mean, end-of-term gifts for teachers is always several hundred in spa vouchers and Diptyque candles. Then we took Hector’s seven-plus tutor skiing with us over Christmas (ha! so that was worth it), which at £150 an hour was insanely expensive.

The tutor wrote afterwards to thank us for our hospitality as if he was some kind of long-lost godchild, and to tell us that his fees had paid for him to enjoy a second skiing holiday. Excellent. At least someone got something out of it.

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