Trusting God when you don't get your first choice school

Today is the day that parents across the country are eagerly awaiting an email that will tell them where their precious four-year-olds will be attending school. If you're not from the UK, you might not be aware, but in a nut shell, parents are able to list their top three choices of primary school. The council then allocate the available spaces - and in the event of over-subscription will prioritise different factors: proximity to the school, siblings that attend the school etc. etc. Basically, you are often not guaranteed to get your first choice school.

I remember this day two years ago very well. Except I did not start the day in excited anticipation. I knew we would not be getting our first choice school. I also knew we would not be getting our second choice school. I knew that in all probability we would get our third choice - and if we were really unlucky it was possible we wouldn't get any of them. I started the day resigned to disappointment.



However, I want to tell this story because it is a story of God's provision, but before I jump in, I'll rewind a bit to give you a bit of context.

At the time of looking for schools we lived in an area of town that was quite well connected, and there were a couple of schools in the vicinity, but they were not at the end of the road. There wasn't an obvious geographical choice that suited us, and I don't drive so geography was our biggest consideration.

So initially we looked at two schools:


So there you have it, two underwhelming choices for different reasons. Maybe I was naive to think that I would have this elusive 'wow' moment when I walked into my daughter's school for the first time. I thought I would walk in and 'just know' that this was 'the one' - but I didn't.

Then we decided to look at School C. School C was a total outside bet, it was much further away - but it was accessible via public transport and close to town so once the school run was done, we would be close to all the places we normally went.

It was also a Christian school. I had never really cared about going to a Church of England (C of E) school because I didn't think that in this country it means that much - the staff aren't necessarily 'of faith', I just assumed you might get occasional visits from the vicar and sing All Things Bright and Beautiful in assembly every day, but it certainly wasn't a huge priority from a faith perspective that our kids went to a C of E school.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by this school. We visited during an open evening and as I entered the hall, before anyone had even uttered a word, I felt the Holy Spirit's presence in the room (weird, I know). As the Head Mistress spoke from the front, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. This was it. This was 'The One'. It aligned with our values, had quite a traditional ethos, provided Ruby with the structure that she needed and it strove for academic excellence - perfect for our academic book worm.

There was just one problem. 

I knew that there was no way we would be offered this school. 

So we did everything we could. We put down our three schools in order: C, A, B.

We got our pastor to sign a form that said we attended a church (church-going Christians are given priority) - but this wasn't a huge help because we lived just over the parish border. 

We had no chance, and we knew it. But I couldn't shake the feeling that this was the school for us.

So that day in April rolled around and I was less than enthused. I knew what the results would be and I was right. We got School B. We lived too far away to get School C, and School A was so small that if it wasn't your first choice you wouldn't get it. So we got School B.

I tried to trust God, I knew that Ruby would be fine wherever she went, I knew that God knew what she needed. But I was disappointed, and I couldn't understand why God would dangle this carrot in front of us if our desires wouldn't be fulfilled.

But we accepted the decision (you can appeal, but there was no real legal reason that would swing it in our favour so we didn't bother) and placed Ruby on the waiting list in the unlikely event that a place became available. 

We attended School B's introduction days over the summer and bought the uniform, but I still didn't feel absolutely satisfied. School B was a nice school, but I had a few niggles, it just didn't seem to fit our child.

The beginning of term came, we took the obligatory front door photo and off she went. Just like that. And that, I thought was the end of it.

But then it wasn't.

A couple of days into term, I was sat at a friend's house having a cup of tea when the phone rang. It was School C, and they had a place! We accepted the place, bought the uniform, went to visit the next day and the following day Ruby started in her new school, just a few days after her peers. 

We're now almost two years in and it couldn't have been a better decision for Ruby, and I believe Joel will thrive there too. She has had the best teachers, she has been challenged and pushed and it's been a great place for her, not to mention the lovely group of friends that she has.

I am confident, that even when we don't get what we want when we want it, God is always orchestrating events for His glory and for His purpose. I know that when He 'dangles a carrot', He will come through on it. I know that I can trust Him with my kids, that He knows what's best for them, always providing what they need.

Not only that, but the location (the one disadvantage of this particular school) turned out to be perfect in relation to my dream job, and since then we have moved to the perfect house, which happens to be at the end of the road from this school... but those two stories are for another day!

Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash


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