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As I've peeked through social media this week, I have come across many posts regarding the Year 6 SATs tests which have been taking place this week. Honestly, I don't think I will ever know how I feel about this level of testing in schools. Like all things, there are pros and cons, good and bad in all things. In one breath, we are so lucky to have the opportunity to be 'educated' in the U.K and in the other, our education system is so very far from perfect.
Last year, it was my son, Noah who in year two at primary school, was about to embark on his first experience of SATs tests. I remember feeling very conflicted as his mama. One part of me fought with the idea of it. Often failing to see what good could ever come of it. Often questioning the pressure and the feeling of potential 'failure' we may have to pick our children up from.

The other part of me knowing that in life, we sometimes have to do what we don't want to, what we don't agree with and what will make us feel a bit rubbish. It was that side of me that couldn't quite withdraw him from taking them because it is my responsibility as his mother to prepare him for life, for the world and for being a person in it.

All of me though, just wanted him to be a child, to act his age, to have fun, to feel creative, to feel empowered, to feel free and more importantly to know that he is enough. I just wanted him to know that the SATs tests didn't in any way define him. How could they, when they didn't know him? They didn't know a single thing about the boy holding the pencil and about all of the thinks that make him great.

The SAT's tests are a process that don't have very much to do with our children at all. A lot of it is for the benefit of our schools, streaming and ticking boxes.

And this is why I was conflicted...

But he did them in the end and we didn't make a very big deal out of it in our home at all. We allowed him to take it in his stride and sent him off to school with the message that ' like you are...your best is always good enough'... as we do every morning. Along with, 'Have fun today!' and 'I love you!'

Isn't it hard sometimes, being a parent? Making decisions for our children? Sometimes going against our better judgement? Trying our damn hardest to make the best of get it right?

Anyway guys, how are your children taking them coping this week? what are your opinions on SATs and testing in our schools? It would be interesting to know what any of you think about The Kent Test. Julia has had her two children attend the local Grammar school as a result of it and feels that it is another process in place to ensure our children end up at the right school and doing work that is right for them. Gemma's eldest is due to take it in September after a lot of doubt, qustioning herself and 'the system' and I, just like the SATs will probably never know how I really feel about it but am glad I have a little bit of time on my side. Even though, the years go by just way too fast...but that is for another blog post.

Let us know your opinions on Facebook (click HERE) & Twitter (Click HERE) and always remember....

Love Ria & The Gals x x x

Rival Girls

Rival School & Dancewear, A New Look


When my mum, two big sisters and I jumped head first and totally clueless into taking over Rival as an established business seven years ago, we quickly got stuck in to trying to put our own stamp on an already well loved place in our local town. The small market town of Faversham where each of us, in some way or another have grown up, made mistakes, raised our families and made some amazing memories. For that reason, we were desperate to do our new venture justice. We pulled down fixtures and fittings, moved things around every five minutes and came up with fresh ideas to make our little business in West Street something great…and something that reflected us.


Like all new business ventures, we made a lot of mistakes in those first few years. Some big, some small. Like the time just before our first summer season was about to hit, right at the busiest time of year…we opened a box of rather expensive sports kit for one of our secondary schools to find lots of ‘wrong colours’ and then in the same year, we opened a box of blazers with the wrong logo attached, which were later patched over by the suppliers and in the end, because we are perfectionists… We had to simply scrap them, learn by the errors of our ways, take the hit and start again. There were a lot of phone calls, lots of blame, lots of time and money wasted… but we can now look back and laugh about the summer that we were scared to open boxes from anyone. In all honesty, we kind of still are. 


To this day, when a box of anything comes in, we handle that madness as a team, safety in numbers with one eye squinted and a deep breath. Running a school and dance wear business ain’t an easy task folks. 


We have come so far since that first summer. We have got a lot of things right. We are proud of our customer service and the amazing rapport that we have built with customers in that space of time. We have watched children grow up, through primary school, through ballet grading, through Beavers and Cubs and been a small part of them moving on in to their new chapters at secondary school. We have listened to parents, shared our experiences of the Kent Test (11+), transitioning through parenthood and all the challenges that come with raising who we hope and pray to be good, well-rounded people. Rival is much more than a transaction at the till. We are mothers and with that comes an understanding and a need to help as much as we can.


Over the years, we have developed our ‘put by service’, ‘account service’ and money off vouchers to take the financial pressure off of local families. The summer holidays should be remembered for something much more special and for something much memorable than worrying about buying new school uniform. The school holidays should be about a sense of freedom for the kids and quality time as a family for the ones ‘adulting’. Life is short after all.


Seven years on, we are so happy with what we have managed to achieve and build in store. As much as Gemma (the middle sister) can’t leave things alone, gets fidgety, moves things around and confuses us all, often… We are proud of our business. Nothing gets past Julia (the bigger sister) and she just knows what needs to be ordered and done… She is the one who bends over backwards behind the scenes and is still smiling despite the stress that often comes with our job. And, the reason that our business doesn’t fall down around us is because of our mum, Maxine who takes on the jobs that we are all likely to forget to do or the ones we don’t want to…she is a star really. I’m not sure what I bring to the table really. I’m Ria (the smallest sister) and I get a little too excited about leotards, tutu’s, pretty dance wear and the need to, in some way re-live my youth as a dancer. We are a team and you know what they say ‘team work makes the dream work’ and all of that jazz.


Feeling simply content doesn’t sit well with us for long though. There has been that voice in the back of our minds for quite some time now, that we could be doing something more, something else. And so, we started picking holes in our online world. Our social media. Our online community. Our website that was so dated that we couldn’t bring ourselves to look at it any more. So after about a year of hating it, we teamed up with the wonderful James at Faversham Designs to redesign it for us. He has been amazing and has had no problem working alongside a strong-willed group of (sort-of) high maintenance women armed with a lot of questions and a lot of ideas. Honestly, he has been great and we are really excited to take our new look website from its early stages and developing it into something that will ‘rival’ what we have built in store… Ha! Seriously, did you see what I did there? Am I the only person who thinks I’m funny? 


So, I guess… from a lot of rambling… what I’m trying to say is that we are excited about our ‘New Look’ website and for what Rival could become online. More importantly, what do you think of it? Constructive criticism and feedback are more than welcome because we really want to get this right. Find us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram too…Let’s chat! 


Big Love,


Ria & The Girls


x x x

About Us

We are situated in the heart of Faversham's pedestian precinct just 100 metres west of the Market Square opposite the 'Sun Inn'.

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Contact Us

Tel: 01795 590473

116 West Street, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7JB


If you have any questions or need any help, please give us a call on 01795 590473.


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