‘Zara, good girl! That’s a fifty percent improvement on last week’s attempt.’
Zara glimmered with pride. Her parents had organised the tutor after her NAPLAN results in Year 3 were abysmal. That was the word they’d used. She’d had to look it up in the dictionary.
Her heart sank at its definition.
For the past twelve months, Zara had spent Friday afternoons with Erich. All prep for her Year 5 attempt with NAPLAN. Next year.
‘Everything’s riding on this, Zara,’ urged her mother, wringing her hands. ‘This will be what our top three schools will be looking at, in deciding if they offer you a place.’
Zara failed to hold the same view as her parents. She was quite certain that her choices now, her efforts and grades now, did not lock her into the one route for the rest of her life.
But, she was ten. She had no choice but to follow her parents’ directional plan for her schooling. A flow chart took up the entire whiteboard in the kitchen.
Anyway, she liked Erich. He bought Smarties for her every week. Sometimes, he used them in maths sums. But she always got the box at the end of the session, just before her mum walked into the library and paid Erich $60 in cash.
‘Thanks Erich,’ Zara responded. ‘You think I’m ready?’
Erich chuckled. ‘Well, if you’re not now, we’ve still got a year to get you ready.’ He rubbed the top of her head affectionately. ‘You’re only in Year 4 right now, yeah?’
‘It’s alright Zara,’ he said. ‘My parents were pretty similar. They mean well.’