Laura Craik on bending school rules, fashion show power plays and the solution to the failed French tuck

Laura Craik
Stephen Lovekin/WWD/REX/Shutters

According to a YouGov poll, middle-class families are cheating their way into London’s best schools.

One in three parents claims to know families who have used ‘ethically dubious’ tactics to win a place for little Ottilie (wait, do I know any Ottilies? Am I implicating anyone?) at their chosen establishment. Only one in three? Everyone I know is guilty, including me.

If it’s a crime to have spent the past 12 years getting up at 8.30am every second Sunday to go to church, then bring on the handcuffs. Sure, I started out with the motive of getting my kids into the affiliated C of E primary school, but like many parents who hadn’t set foot in a church since they were christened (actually, I wasn’t even christened), I found myself getting into it, and trying to give something back. I like singing hymns. The sermons make me think about my cold black soul and what I could do to be a better person — like not deprive kids less fortunate than mine of a place at an oversubscribed C of E school.

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And the Lord sayeth: ‘Put thy sharp elbows away, bitch, and only suffer the little children to come unto me if their parents can’t afford to go private.’ But I don’t want to go private. I’ve heard of kids at the most affluent London private schools who celebrated their 10th birthday party at The Ritz, their 16th in Monaco and their 18th in rehab. I want my kids to know kids from all walks of life, not just Entitled Street.

I didn’t move to London to live in a bubble, so the idea that I’m abetting one is hard to reconcile. Nobody wants to be branded a cheater. But when it comes to getting the best education for their children, only a London parent knows quite how rapaciously people are prepared to manipulate the rules. I know atheist parents who have moved house to be in the catchment area for a good Catholic school, single parents who have worked all hours to afford tutors to get their kids into a good grammar school and Muslim parents who send their kids to a C of E school but won’t have them attend a single church assembly. Religious people would claim that only God can judge. If only that were true. Everyone judges. Until you’ve walked in somebody’s shoes, though, maybe don’t judge at all.

Front row mentor

One of the best things about Fashion Month (London has just finished, Milan has just begun) is seeing which random celebrities end up sitting next to each other on the front row, then decoding how much they hate each other. Over the years I’ve seen people get their people to move those who offend them, or insist that some poor, unsuspecting piece of room meat sits between the feudees. Happily, there appeared to be no such beef between Kate Moss and Kendall Jenner, who chatted away at the Longchamp show, with Ken admiring Kate’s boots. "Yeah, I dig her, she’s cool. The inner 12-year-old in me was having a freakout," said Kendall afterwards, interviewed by E! News.

Tuck off

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she realises that she has put on about 10,000lb over the summer, and can never touch rosé again until May 2019. Mine is when I first try to tuck my shirt into my jeans. Thanks to Queer Eye’s Tan, the whole world now knows how to do a French tuck, but the style tip Tan didn’t offer is how to make it look chic over a massive stomach. Answer: don’t even try. Ditch the whole look, replacing the jeans with a knife-pleat midi skirt (elasticated waist optional) and the shirt with a slouchy jumper. It’s autumn’s easiest, comfiest and most forgiving combo, whatever your age or size.