He's in the middle of sixth grade and we live in Eslöv's kommun. A kommun is relatively analogous to a county, and even though we live right on the border between two counties, in fact our village is split in half by the river that marks the boundary line, we ended up with Eslöv instead of Lund. And unfortunately, Eslöv is much the poorer in both money and resources, at least when it comes to small village schools like ours and small junior highs, like the one Martin would have automatically attended next year, which was also 20 minutes away in Löberöd, in the wrong direction.
At the beginning of his sixth-grade year, Martin's class dropped from 26 to 18. 3 of the children actually moved, but the rest switched schools because their parents either didn't want them to go to the country school next year or because they wanted to take advantage of the advanced curriculum and resources offered by next-door Lund county. In Lund, the kids start their third language elective in sixth grade (on top of Swedish & English), instead of waiting until seventh, for example. If we had waited to switch Martin at the beginning on next year, he would be a year behind the Lund kids at that point, instead of the half-year he is now. In addition, the Löberöd school, which we had heard when we moved to Flyinge 12 (!) years ago was a good one, has declined in quality and in the national statistics. There were other factors as well, including long gaps in the class schedules where the kids are actually free for up to two hours between lectures and the fact that the open campus allowed them to roam the village or end up at other children's homes in the middle of the day without supervision that had me really upset.
At an information meeting two weeks ago, which we attended at the Löberöd school with Martin and the parents of several other kids from our village and the 2 neighboring ones, we were not terribly impressed with anything we heard. That jump-started both of us, and we decided to check out the 2 schools in Lund that we knew the other kids in Martin's class had switched to.
One was Kunskapsskolan in south Lund and the other was the Bilingual Montessori School which is on the north side. Anders and Martin attended an information meeting at the first, at which they were VERY impressed. The school has a very forward-thinking curriculum and teaching plan which leaves a great deal of the planning and responsibility for goal-setting up to the student. Very Montessori in many ways, from all we could tell. We arranged school visits for Martin for both schools and he spent Thursday at the first and today at the second.
Yesterday, after a full day at Kunskapsskolan, Anders & I picked him up, had a guided tour of the premises by the School Assistant, and sat in on the end of day gathering for 1 of the 4 sixth grader groups. I was appalled at how dirty the school was, quite frankly, and also at how very chaotic everything was. Party due to the end of the day excitement, I'm sure, but I was actually not too thrilled with what I saw, despite thinking that the teaching method had definite appeal and that the teachers all seemed very friendly. Martin told me later that only 1 kid, apart from the 3 kids he knew from Flyinge, even talked to him. The school has over 300 kids in grades 6-9. But we had heard good things from the Flyinge kids that we had talked to AND their parents, so were still willing to give it a chance.
Today, we took Martin to BMSL and what a difference. I know that appearances are only a small part of the picture, but the school was clean, well-kept and the kids were well-behaved and there was no sense of the chaos and crowding that I had sensed at the other school. Even though the principal was late for her appointment with us, we still had a tour of the school and she gave us information, answered all our questions, introduced us to several teachers and talked to us for nearly an hour and a half. Martin disappeared into the sixth grade class and had a great day. This school has around 300 kids as well, but in the 6-9 grades there are only 45 kids and they have a floor and a half to themselves. It's a fairly new school, and that also probably helped in the difference between the two.
I picked Martin up at 2, and we talked all the way home. He was bouncing with excitement and declared that BMSL was his choice, hands-down. The kids and teachers had all been friendly and welcoming...everyone had talked to him and asked him about himself; he liked the atmosphere and the classes. Well, okay then! He already has a spot confirmed at both schools, so now it's just a matter of calling to tell them we'll take the one at BMSL and informing the school in Flyinge that he'll be switching as of the end of this term, which is two weeks away. He'll start the new school on January 11th.
They take care of all the logistics with switching his status from the county and we don't have to pay anything to do the switch. The only thing we have to work out is the logistics of getting him to and from school, but since BMSL is located only blocks away from my office, I can drop him off in the mornings and he can walk the 15 minutes up to my work when his school day is over and by the time he gets there, it's only about 15-30 minutes until I'm ending my day. So the only days we'll need to worry about are when I have to work late or someone is sick or I'm not in the office.
He doesn't seem nervous at all about the switch, even though he'll have a bit of catching up to do and will also be dumped straight into French as well, because the Bilingual Montessori School is actually TRIlingual. They hold their regular classes in Swedish, English and French! And they offer Spanish on top of that, and when we told her he really wants to take German, she said, "Great! We will push to get that into place as well."
Blindingly Bright & Beautiful Birthday Wishes to americantjej and Belated Ones to georgiamars!