Z started primary school last week. What we called Primary 1 is called CP here meaning Cours Préparatoire although what it’s preparatory for I’m not quite sure. It’s clear that his school experience is going to be very different from mine which I can just about remember despite the oceans and oceans of water that have flowed under the bridge since then.
Take his satchel for example, it’s a swanky, colourful, contraption with plastic clips, multiple pockets, skateboarding logos and even a key-ring. Mine was a brown leather satchel, full stop.
Despite living in the sunniest place in Britain, I also don’t remember ever going to school in shorts and a t-shirt which is all Z has worn so far.
Then there are all the friends: a swarm of best and bestish friends he has messed around with since they arrived in nursery together. When I went to school I knew not a single soul on the entire island I had just arrived on, never mind in the mixed class of 5 to 8 year-olds I was about to join. I had certainly never been to nursery — did they even exist in the sixties ? No, I came fresh from five cosy years at home with my Mummy in a pinny, watching Camberwick Green.
However, what actually goes on inside the classroom here seems closer to pre-war pedagogy than anything I ever experienced. The children sit in rows looking towards the maître or the maîtresse at the front. Today I had to buy a little slate on which Z, like all his classmates, will chalk the answers to the teacher’s questions before they all hold them up for inspection. Even in the Inner Hebrides, where incidentally all the other kids seemed to be related to each other in some way, we did some of that new-fangled group work.
It’s going to be an interesting year.