Shit they don’t tell you about starting school

About to send your baby off to school for the first time? Worried about what to expect?

Forget Ofsted reports and class sizes, this is the real lowdown on what happens in your child’s  first year at school. For starters don’t expect your child to be able to say the name of their class, two terms in and my daughter still thinks she’s in ‘Becepshum’.


1. The Emails

Oh God the emails. Please make it stop.

Remember that weird girl at work who kept sending emails to the entire company about random pointless shit? Yeah well she left and got a job in the school office. Here’s a brief taster of what your inbox will look like come September:

  • An update of the school’s policy on cheese
  • Suspected nits
  • Reminder about non uniform day with NO FUCKING DATE IN THE EMAIL
  • Procedures for evacuation of the school in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse
  • Definite sighting of nits
  • Pupil of the week award
  • Everyone has nits now
  • Something about school dinners, no idea what I deleted it hope it wasn’t important
  • Suspected case of bubonic plague in year 6
  • Nits are back or probably just never actually went away
  • Don’t forget to send your children in dressed as a giraffe entering Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow for ‘World Haven’t We Got Enough Shit To Think About? Day’
  • Winner of the this years house cup : The Nits

Top tip: When choosing a school ask how many emails on average they send a week and just pick the one that sends the least.

2. The Disappearing Clothes

Now I am no stranger to leaving the house in one outfit and returning in something different, my excuse is that I was drunk and cold.

But I have NEVER returned home in someone else’s tights or knickers. And if that did happen I would damn well know about it. In fact it would probably be the first thing I told you – Hi there I’m wearing someone else’s undercrackers! 

It is perfectly normal for children in Reception to arrive home in someone else’s pants.  To be fair I have NEVER managed to get both my children dressed without threatening to delete Paw Patrol from Netflix. Why anyone would attempt to get 30 children changed in and out of PE kit is beyond me.

Primary Schools are a massive vortex of missing  uniform, stuff just disappears never to be seen again. Somewhere in an alternate universe it’s raining cardigans, socks and t shirts.

Top Tip: When they say label everything. Just do it. Everything. Yes even the knickers.

3.  The Reading & Writing

You know reading and writing?  Yeah well you don’t.

Everything you learnt at school was bullshit and now there’s a whole new system to learn. With hand gestures. I swear they’ve only invented Phonics so reception teachers can have a good laugh at all the parents.

And the books! Reading is my all time favourite thing to do ever but even I have been pushed to my limits by the wonders of the first reader.

Sam had a nut. Bob had a nut. Jim had a nut.

And what are Sam, Bob and Jim going to do with their nuts? Nowt.

To be fair how many things can you think of to do that require only three or four letters? On second thoughts don’t answer that.

4. The Fancy Fucking Dress

Try to assemble a basic wardrobe of fancy dress costumes before they start school:

Pirate, Ancient Greek, Robot, Roman Centurion, Superhero, a selection of animals – exotic and farm, something Victorian so you can pretend to be clever on World Book Day, Christmas jumper, Easter bonnet, Viking.

With this capsule wardrobe you can probably knock up something suitable when you receive the email two days before reminding you it’s international ‘Dress like a historical figure who you admire’ day.

My daughter is 5, she admires Amy Jo from DCTC –  a grown woman whose actual job appears to be playing with Kinder surprise toys in YouTube videos with a voice that could split the atom. She’s pretty much this generations version of Ada Lovelace.

Top tip: Remember to cut out the Ann Summers labels from any fancy dress items before packing the kids off to school in them.


5. The School Dinners

Anyone fed up of over flowery foodie descriptions on restaurant menus should get a class of reception children to write their menus. So far my daughter claims to have been fed:

Meat and Stuff
Translation: Roast dinner

Meat Soup
Translation: Casserole

Hotdogs but they forgot the bread bit
Translation: Braised Sausage

Mmm it was pink
Translation: No idea

Like a cake but with sauce on
Translation: Orange Sponge with Custard

Jackie’s Potato
Translation: Jacket Potato, no elaboration on any toppings

Hot Orange Sandwich
Translation: Cheese Panini

We didn’t have any lunch today
Translation: Go away and stop asking me questions

6. What are they doing?

Do not expect to find out what your child has been doing all day by asking them about their day. Reception children are too clever for that – instead you have to play the after school game:

At the end of every day each parent will be given one snippet of information by their child, all parents will have to work as a team to piece the puzzle together and discover exactly what happened that day.

Like a shit episode of The Crystal Maze set in a rainy, cold playground.

7. The Paperwork

So much admin! I’m thinking of clubbing together with some other mums and hiring a class P.A.

In our house the school admin has all fallen to me,  on the one occasion I asked Daddy to fill in a form for school I was met with a barrage of panicked questions.

What class is she in? What are Key Stages? Where do I take the form?

And eventually:

When it says signature do they mean mine or hers?

Yes sweetie they want a 5 year old who can only write her first first name in jumbo pencil to sign the release form. Gah!

8. The Presents For Teachers

I once looked after four five year old girls for a whole afternoon and I wanted a fucking medal.

Reception class teachers look after thirty 5 year olds every day. Obviously you want to reward this dedication with something suitable at Christmas like a few rocks of crack cocaine or a bottle of wine. Then you read one of those online listicles ‘50 presents all teachers hate being given at Christmas’ and you start to worry that your bag of heroin in a Cath Kidston pouch is inappropriate.

Buying presents for teachers is a minefield.

Top Tip: Do not give teachers Class A drugs as a Christmas present.*

*Wait til Summer.

9. The Artwork

All those craft tables at playgroup? They were just the warm up.  As far as I can work out Reception Class is basically an exercise to fill the family homes of Great Britain with cat food boxes decorated with glitter and feathers.

I have no idea why.

Top Tip: Hire a wheelbarrow or a flatbed truck for pick up on the last day of term when you will be sent home with all your child’s ‘projects’.

10. The First Day Of School 

Maybe you’ll be in tears, maybe you’ll be jumping for joy.  There’s no right or wrong way to be. Whatever your feelings about the day you will be unable to stop yourself from taking a picture of your child in their uniform and posting it to Social Media. Even though you know some people find this incredibly annoying.

Top Tip: We live in a society where our children are afforded a wonderful education, many countries don’t have that option so take a picture, post it on Facebook and ignore the moaners.

I hope your school journey is as much fun as ours has been so far. Good Luck!

Do you like the illustrations? I didn’t draw them but you can see more of that sort of fabulousness here.

And don’t forget to follow my Facebook page and Twitter  – neither of these have ever had nits.

49 thoughts on “Shit they don’t tell you about starting school

  1. I may be missing the fucking point (me? Never!), but wait, what.. You can delete paw patrol from Netflix? Is it a thing? Is it? Is it? Peppa the bacon sandwich disappeared from Netflix and I let off a party popper. Came the fuck back.

  2. Just want to say – this made me laugh SOOO much! I think nursery has started to prepare me for the main event lol!!

  3. This is spot on!
    I hate to fill you with dread BUT this shit goes on and on – currently eldest is in year 9, it is all still the same – except if your lucky enough to have more than one little darling there will be a time they are in different schools – yep, twice the emails, dress up days (YES they do that in secondary now too!!!!) school dinner mysteries and lost (expensive) uniform! Oh and one last thing ….. There’s still nits!!!!

  4. Absolutely fucking hilarious and so true! My eldest is 8 and in year 3 – I still have the puzzle of what went on at school. Keep them coming Eeh Bah, you’re a ray of honest sunshine, making me laugh until I cry (honestly!). My baby is 8 months and we appreciated your weaning advice too xx

  5. Reception teacher and mother here. This was both hilarious and completely accurate! Cheers for the laugh and support of us teaching folk xx

  6. Brilliant 🙂 you must be on my school run because that is our school exactly!!! 😀 bring back nit nurses!!!! You made me laugh out loud even though that made me cough and hurt me 🙂 so I now love u but also curse you for your wit a little bit 😉

  7. Hi. Very funny! As someone else said – it’s doesn’t end at primary school!! Mine are years 7 & 11 and I still have to deal with lost uniform (soooo expensive!), mysterious code on what went on today, huge array of e-mails and someone else’s clothes coming home in PE bag!! Lost diaries, lost books, sometimes entire bag with all contents lost (eek!!). Where does all the lost stuff go?

    • I was an IT Tech at a secondary school. I think I figured out the lost items thing. Having put out my bike and a pair of gloves ready to go home, I went back into the office to get my coat. During the three milliseconds I was away from my bike, somebody had ‘found’ my gloves and taken them to the lost property office. Obviously the office was locked when I got there. It was a very chilly ride home that day. (Tip: surgical type rubber gloves do NOT keep out the cold)

  8. I remember these days so well and this made me laugh so much. I’m sorry to say it doesn’t get any better when they move up to secondary school. The big difference is they go there and back on their own stream (public transport in my son’s case) so you have sleepless nights about abduction by bus wankers and them being stabbed for their shoes or phone. Also, they are supposed to take more responsibility for themselves which typically ends in jumpers lost forever, homework forgotten and nothing eaten all day.

  9. So true, so very true.
    And then they send your little darling home with the class bear, which is more responsibility than I have ever had before in my entire life. (Fortunately, my two don’t go to the kind of school where the class bear is expected to be photographed skiing in Gstaad.)

  10. Pingback: Five things we've been up to lately | A Baby on Board blog

  11. Pingback: Looking for a giggle? Then you need to be reading these nine funny blogs | Tots 100

  12. Love it Kirsty! Felt a bit sick thinking you did the cartoons too but I love them too now I know they’re not yours (ha! I’m sure you could totally rock illustrations). My tactic is simply to ask a parent who has a girl what happened at school, they are much more likely to know, I’ve found. Except you, mind 😉 xx

    • Yeah generally girls are more forthcoming than boys but then I’ve also discovered that girls just make stuff up. I know my daughter can read and write I’ve seen her doing it so I’m guessing whatever it is they’re doing is working fine…

  13. Brilliant! My daughter is in pre-school nursery in the school where she will start reception in September and I can already relate to most of this! Especially fancy dress and email! Not only are there too many but they are also attached as word documents which I find extremely annoying!

  14. Just the funniest thing – relatable on so many levels. Thank you for giving me such a laugh. I’m hoping someone has done one for year 7 onwards!

  15. Spot on! I still have tears from how much I laughed.

    My daughter’s school communication is multi-channel:

    – paper newsletter in book bag
    – tweets
    – texts from PTA

    I kinda wish they’d use only emails…

  16. Cried laughing reading this! As someone who works in the school office, the points about the emails, lost property and paperwork……..brilliant! Also a mum of 2 so everything else 100% relatable!

  17. Brilliant and spot on! The art work at our school is referred to as ‘Junk Modelling’ where the teachers and other parents take in their rubbish and my daughter glues it all together and brings it home. as art.

  18. Same at the primary school where I teach. Parents go into competition making Stonehenge cakes, Tudor houses etc as half term homework and pass it off as their child’s work. Secondary just gets worse as same amount of emails but usually involving demands for lots of money in each one with a tone of emotional blackmail, as visits will be cancelled if they don’t receive enough contributions. . Daily voicemails about “incidents” your child has been involved in. You imagine they have hit another child, been excluded etc until you finally call back and discover they “high-fived” their friend in a lesson which was obviously disrespectful to the teacher concerned but not a crime punishable with a prison sentence. Once they reach sixth form and the age of 18, you are just praying for the whole school scene to be over so that you don’t have to listen to any teachers who are by now only about five years older than your children, bemoaning what your man child hasn’t done on time, hasn’t turned up to on time and so on and so on ….

  19. This is so very true. We have 3 girls in 3 different secondary schools so triple the fun! One of them sends emails to 3 email addresses that come to the same inbox and it’s usually a link to their website that you have to click, remember username, password etc. And each parent has a list of ‘tasks’ to complete!!! Drives me mad. I’m teaching the girls rebellion by rarely answering until the third reminder – that sorts out the important stuff.

  20. just wait till they get to KS2 and you have to make the Roman shield, the decorated hat, the desert island, the underwater scene, and the “inspirational sportsperson” (“Mummy I want to do a wrestler”). As well as receiving a text message at 4.30pm about tomorrow’s “Pink Day” (I have a boy who doesn’t wear pink), “Spotty Day” (ditto), or “World Book Day” (which isn’t the same day as the rest of the world’s Book Day, and you really don’t feel you can send him in AGAIN in pyjamas and pretend he’s Paddington).

  21. Mine was in Reception last year, but I remember all this very well. Particularly asking my daughter what she had for dinner each day. “For main course I had a brown slimy thing with a white slimy thing.” Right and for putting “orange slimy thing.” I never did find out what all the slimy things were, but at least they apparently tasted nice.

    The emails and letters stopped by year 1. We now have to use your psychic powers to know when school events are happening, and if we don’t have such powers, well that really isn’t the school’s problem. Occasionally you can pick up warning the day before about the next dressing up day or event from the “Friends of the School” facebook feed.

  22. Love the post it’s really funny.
    And spot on.
    My daughter apparently never eats at school, and my son does nothing most days.
    Oh god the paper work never ends does it. I hate all those forms: You know where we live, it was on the last ten forms I gave in. Yes do I give permission for you to take pictures of my children eating ice cream in hats. But no you cannot market them for profit. Yes you can add beards and mos. Because it’s funny.
    I find the emails and notifications from the school, two schools, really gets in the way of the important message (FB). Grr..

    P.s. your husband is a genius <bows>

  23. So accurate. The parent mails from school drive me up the wall. By the time they are in year 6 you hate the lot of them, have had to take out a small mortgage to pay for various mufti days and day trips where your darlings come home complaining the trip was “crap”. And you still have one in year 1 and another bloody five years to go!

  24. A friend shared this on Facebook and I laughed til I cried.
    Or perhaps laughed because the alternative is crying.
    Eldest is in 6th Form now, Middle is in high school, Youngest is in Y5 at primary. I’m warning you now, things don’t improve. Once they trust the kids to give you the letters/forms/information it only gets more chaotic.
    Typical crises including “Mum, I need 4 types of veg, coconut milk and fresh lemon grass for Food Tech. We’re doing curry,” at 4 minutes before departure on day ingredients required, and “I forgot to tell you, it’s a training day today. We got a letter last week but I spelled my lunch on it so I didn’t bring it home.”

  25. I happened upon your page by accident, but a happy one.

    I like your turn of phrase, and the down to Earth descriptions (and like all observational comedians, noticing them in the first place) of everyday nonsense that we all have to put up with.

    Nice blog! …keep it coming.

  26. Eek! And then Eek! We’re up for the big one this year. I need this post in my life. Snorted at the menu and the ‘cat food boxes decorated with glitter and feathers.’ (My car boot is currently full of these things from nursery!) Love this with a capital ? (Yes a CAPITAL – in your face phonics! ?) x

  27. Thank you for this laugh out loud post, love it. And I bet all the fellow commuters enjoyed watching me making a fool of myself on the way to work ???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *