Saying goodbye

Books and stationary on a school desk


It’s an emotional thing moving on, especially when you are 11. Daughter three had her final day at primary school on Friday. It follows a year of fairly intense bonding via a postponed year 5 trip, SATs, a week-long camping trip and a two-night performance of Bugsy Malone. Daughter three’s buddies in reception had given her chocolates and cards already. It felt like the end of an era. She was entering into a world of uncertainty, and I mean that in every way possible, given the current world situation.

Daughter three was fairly sanguine at the start of Friday. She had to do another performance for the leavers assembly – a series of memories and skits of the highlights of year six. Daughter three started the assembly with her best memory of year six. “I remember,” she began, “when I was sitting on the sofa in year six and x and x came over and put sticky tape over my mouth and tied me up with tape round my legs and hands and then hit my head against the wall.” Hmmm. The mum beside me laughed out loud. “The hitting the head against the wall bit was clearly the highlight,” she said. All her classmates then gave their memories. One boy’s highlight was from reception when he came to school without any pants on and it was PE day. Only son laughed very heartily at that one. He had a moment in reception when he came out of the year one toilet, having forgotten to do his zip up. He may be recalling that moment in year six.

After all the sketches of top year six moments, the whole team sang Justin Bieber’s “Is it too late to say sorry”, but substituted “goodbye” for “sorry” and changed the other words to be about the “bestest school ever”. No-one in year six cried. The parents, however, were a complete emotional mess. The year six class were then each applauded as they got a science book to remember the school by. It was worse than High School Musical 3 and I cried a lot after that.

A popular teacher was also leaving and there were memories and another song for him. A version of the Carpenters “Wait a minute, Mr Postman”. The head teacher thanked the teacher for influencing hundreds of children’s lives for the better and turning some of their lives around. A parent from year six whose child had been taught by this teacher stood up and cheered. The year six teacher was getting married so there were flowers for her and a veil and tiara. Photos followed. Unfortunately, someone small had put my phone on selfie mode and I couldn’t work out how to unselfie it and had to ask an 11 year old. The parents disappeared, leaving year sixers to a day of goodbyes and going around the school having their shirts signed.

I arrived back at the end of the day. Only son’s teacher had put together a film with photos from the year’s exploits for parents to watch. “I hope you had the time of your lives” was the background song. The assistant teachers were crying. I was most definitely crying.  Daughter three walked past the classroom and looked in. She seemed in good spirits.

We said goodbye to the year one teachers and thanked them for everything. Only son definitely had had the time of his life. Then it was time for daughter three to say goodbye to her friends and teachers. When she arrived at the school two years ago she was very shy and felt everyone would hate her because of the bullying she had suffered at her previous school. It took a year for her to feel okay. At the Bugsy Malone performance she exuded fun, happiness and, most of all, confidence. It’s hard to express how much of a difference that school made to her, but I hope I conveyed that to her teachers. At her previous school she was coming home every day in tears. By this point I was a complete emotional wreck, but daughter three appeared to be doing fine. She hugged everyone and we headed to the car. She sat down and started to sob.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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