Now, trying to get our four-year-old into a 'chance' vacancy at a mostly girls private prep school which we can't afford. Welcome to Fantasy Island. A detached Victorian house just off the south circular, the school photographs in reception show a school body that is 95% white with a dash of light brown. Definitely not representative of south London.
The other parents arrive. Two dads in identikit grey suits, six mothers. All have little girls, most in uniforms of Dulwich College's kindergarten. Another part of the private school archipelago.
The receptionist has a nervy busy-ness about her and tells me that 'no, you won't be able to stay in the classroom during the assessment.' I'm to leave the school, have a coffee, then come back.
We take our children into the classroom. Three kids are upset at the thought of being left in unfamiliar surroundings. One girl was taken out of the room by her mother who I heard outside telling her repeatedly in a low voice to 'stop crying, you're in school'. The horse had refused to jump the fence.
Once he settles down in the classroom, I leave my son playing with Lego in the company of one of the five teachers doing the 'literacy, numeracy and sociability' assessment.
In total sixteen children are being assessed for one place in Year 1. Each parent pays £50 for the assessment, so the school, a charity like all independent schools, gets £800 for a few hours work. The chosen child gets a place for which her lucky parents will pay £10,000 per year.
Half an hour later I get a call from the receptionist saying that they weren't able to complete the assessment because my son got upset and wanted his daddy.
'It must be very disappointing for you,' says the receptionist when I arrive.
'Not at all,' I say, taken aback. 'I think testing at this age is invidious.' I'm angry that at the age of four, my son has been sorted into a box marked failure; chucked from the conveyor belt because he didn't comply. I'm annoyed that they take him out of the assessment seemingly at the first sign of distress and call it off. I'm angry that I'm complicit in a sorting exercise for children who maybe should be spending time playing rather than being measured.
My son brightens as soon as he sees me. His red face and tears go away and he's chatty as usual. The ordeal is over for now, but we still need to find a school.