child starting reception in sep - home visit - why?

(62 Posts)
curryeater Tue 18-Jun-13 21:09:05

We have had a letter from the school informing us that we will be visited at home on a certain day at 2.40. we have been told to have the original birth certificate of the child to hand. And that the appointment cannot be rearranged. This would mean taking a whole day off work (if one of us even can) which is a bit of a problem. we have been forced to move house twice this year and with one thing and another are both really running out of leave.

We are told in the letter that if a meeting does not take place it may delay our child starting school.

Can anyone tell me what this is for, so I can work out how hard I have to try to make it work.

If it is about the birth certificate - there will be another way to do it, and there is no point in me taking a day off work so they can look at a document.

If it is about seeing our house, and home life, it is none of their business.

If there is some actually important reason why meeting the child at home is genuinely different from the other visits arranged with the pre-school, and important, maybe I should make the effort.

If not, I would prefer to use my leave on some time off together as a family in the summer, supporting my dd1 when she actually starts school, and as much time off at xmas as we can have so that we get a good break together after her first term. (not that I remotely have enough time for all of these things to the extent I would like!)

Can those who know about such things please advise me?

Jenny70 Tue 18-Jun-13 21:13:58

You can decline - it usn't mandatory.

Officially they do the home visit to meet the child in their home env. Unofficially it is a child safeguarding tick in the box... flagging up children at risk (in a nutshell).

It is great for pfb parents that are anxious about starting school, children with special needs that can't be covered in a group/class meeting. Otherwise, in my opinion, they are a complete waste of the school resources.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 18-Jun-13 21:16:33

Well our school said that it was so they could see the child in their own home, in an environment they were comfortable with so that they had something to use as a point of reference when they started school.

It makes a certain amount of sense. DS1's teacher and TA were able to ascertain that DS1 is an incredibly excitable child and a total chatterbox. Therefore if he had remained mute for the first week at school then they would have known that he wasn't happy in some way.

Checking out your home and life? Probably but I don't think that is a bad thing tbh.
I help out with reading in my son's class, and the same kids come in day after day with no reading journal, book left at home, library books gone missing - so on and so on. It is helpful for the school to know the home situation I think.
If you haven't got anything to hide then what is the issue with a teacher coming in for a chat and a cuppa?

DorisIsWaiting Tue 18-Jun-13 21:19:16

We have the option of a home visit but it is not obligatory (and is arranged to suit our needs i.e if you would like a home visit please choose from these dates a time most convenient etc).

I think I woud be ringing the school and saying you do not have the flexibility at work to have the time off that week, and what do you need to bring into school. They have no justification for insisting on a home visit. That said it may be useful for your child to meet their new teacher in an environment where they feel secure (more likely to have natural behviour) you can also discuss any concerns or worries without the teacher being pulled off or having another parent waiting to chat.

It's up to you, I'm not doing it this year largely because I've done it twice already and dd3 sees her new teacher every morning in the playground and talks to her...

IMHO it's a bit rude of them to specify when they are coming and they won't rearrange it - either it is important, so they will rearrange if necessary, or it is an optional extra they can only offer on X date.

I declined the offer for my reception starter, he has no particular things they need to know about right now except his stone collection and fascination with bugs and dinosaurs and they will see enough of him in September.

I don't see how it can delay the start date in any legal way, you can call in with birth cert or proof of address if they need it on some other day I expect?

MerylStrop Tue 18-Jun-13 21:25:59

Ring them up and ask what it is for.

Sometimes, ime, letters from school can sound dead shirty and inflexible, and can sometimes be badly written and plain uncommunicative. So don't worry about that. If it is the class teacher coming it probably isn't possible to rearrange.

It's certainly not about checking out your home life, it's probably about them trying to be nice and welcoming. It MIGHT be to check that you genuinely live at the address you live at, especially as you say you have moved twice recently, for admission purposes. But that could be proved in other ways.

choceyes Tue 18-Jun-13 21:26:04

My DS also starts reception in September and we are having a home visit from one of the reception teachers. They wanted to come on a Monday, but that is a working day for me, so I rearranged it for one of my off days. It said in the letter that the appointment can be rearranged if not convenient, and it was rearranged easily.
Wasn't told I had to produce the birth certificate either.

From what I gather, the intention of the home visit is to make the child familiar with the reception teacher in the home environment before they go to school so that they know somebody there when they start school properly.
Home visits are only for children who aren't currently in the pre-school there. My DS isn't. I think most of the children who will be going to reception will be at the preschool already, so I don't think the school will be doing many home visits.

BoysRule Tue 18-Jun-13 21:26:07

It does provide the school with a good understanding of the child if they are aware of the situation at home. When I taught infants I would often talk to a child's reception teacher to find out a bit about what was going on at home as it can help if there are emotional or social issues.

However, I can totally see why it can be seen as intrusive and 'checking' on you. Of course it is unofficially to see if there are issues at home. I taught nursery children in a very deprived area and the home visits were invaluable as I had no idea what conditions these children were living in and I provided breakfast and snacks and a change of clothes as a result.

They should not say the time can't be changed though, that is completely inflexible. You should be able to go and visit them in school if you don't want to do it at home - they probably will see this as a snub or trying to hide something though.

spanieleyes Tue 18-Jun-13 21:26:38

I think this is less a "getting to know the child in secure surroundings" and more a "check up that you actually live at the address on the application form" visit!
Many schools do home visits, there are valid reasons for them. But these are generally by arrangement and consent rather than instruction, so I would guess that the latter might be the case.

GibberTheMonkey Tue 18-Jun-13 21:28:18

I've agreed to ours because I'm a sahm so can though it means ds has to miss a morning of play group.
I've never had one before though and I'm on dc4 and school number 3. Dd is currently in the teachers class. Oh well at least the house will get a clean I guess.

GibberTheMonkey Tue 18-Jun-13 21:29:26

Oh and I've never had to provide a birth certificate. I may have to reread the letter as my friend has had to provide one for the other local school

OddBoots Tue 18-Jun-13 21:30:26

Depending on how popular the school is then if you have moved house a lot then maybe that is why? Some people rent places short term to get a place at a desirable school and they like to sniff them out.

RikeBider Tue 18-Jun-13 21:31:24

Bit weird that they are so insistent on it. Where I am it is much more a chance to meet the teacher/them to see the child in a home environment and is totally your choice - it's offered, not required.

Are you in a very oversubscribed area? Sounds like they are checking for fraud tbh!

Galena Tue 18-Jun-13 21:45:07

I've not been told to provide a birth certificate either, although on the pupil information (emergency contact, etc) form there is a tick box for 'Birth certificate seen'. Our school does in-school visits, not home ones, thank goodness. I'd hate DD's new teacher to see the midden we live in!

runningonwillpower Tue 18-Jun-13 21:54:25

As far as I know, most schools promote this as a help towards the child's transition from pre-school to reception.

They cannot insist upon it. If a child is of statutory school age and an offer of a place has been made and accepted, it is not dependent on a home visit.

I can only think that the school is reluctant to re-arrange appointments because they have a limited schedule.

Phone the school, explain the problem and negotiate the paperwork. If they threaten a delayed start to reception (which I doubt) phone your Local Authority Admissions Team.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Tue 18-Jun-13 22:24:39

I had to provide birth cert but no home visits in our area. It's not mandatory.

jessjessjess Tue 18-Jun-13 23:07:58

Could they be checking you live where you say you do?

curryeater Wed 19-Jun-13 10:48:30

Thanks everyone.
Our current address is not actually the one that was used for the application, but is "better" (nearer) so...
I am feeling a bit doomy about all this tbh. Just the whole school thing. I hated school, I remember it as a time of boredom, time wasting, and being ordered around by procedure-dominated morons, and I can feel all the rage stirring again. MUST NOT LET DD SEE THE IRRITATION AND FOREBODING. She is really looking forward to it, which is the main thing.

Periwinkle007 Wed 19-Jun-13 11:16:17

some schools do ask for birth certificates, some ask for proof of address through child benefit letter etc. I think we had to show birth certificate during application procedure with my other daughter just at 1 of the 3 schools but this time haven't had to show it. - yet!

RoooneyMara Wed 19-Jun-13 11:29:16

Curryeater, I too have those issues. Don't worry - mostly school will probably be Ok, if they like people, they'll be fine - if not then they won't and you'll know about it and can act.

I would have been HORRIFIED to have a home visit. Our house is a tip at the best of times. They would probably mark us down as 'chaotic, likely to be late and lose things'

In reality we are always early for school and tend not to lose things much. Not school things anyway because we leave them in the car

My child always looks scruffy though. I can't do much about that - he is a dirt magnet.

learnandsay Wed 19-Jun-13 11:43:30

Home visits can't be to check that people live where they say they do. Primary school teachers can't have enough time for stupid jobs like that, surely. Surely that's down to LEA admissions.

daftdame Wed 19-Jun-13 12:02:01

I suppose as previous posters have said a home visit will give the teachers an idea about what the child can do etc.

If they don't have enough information they may not be able to plan adequately to cater for your child's needs. This could possibly delay the start by having them on half days (if they do this at this school) for longer in order for your child to settle and them to adjust their teaching etc.

I think this is a bit over zealous if they have already seen your child at pre-school they will have enough information. The preschool visit is all some schools do. It is optional so if it is very difficult to change your working patterns don't, you could ring them to explain. Any paperwork can be shown on her first day. I don't remember anything about having to supply birth certificates.

curryeater Wed 19-Jun-13 12:23:04

Thank you, everyone.
I suppose if I were a SAHP I wouldn't think twice about it - maybe most of the parents are.
There is a long form to fill in about how much dd1 can do already, but I know that is not the same as meeting the child.

I contacted the school because I hadn't heard anything and was worried something might have gone astray in all the house moving. Apart from anything else, there is nothing on their website about school uniform and would quite like to know what we need to get. I even put "school uniform" in the subject line. I got a breezy response about a pack that is going out soon. The pack is about 30 pages and has nothing about school uniform. AAAAAAAAAAAARGH this is the kind of nonsense that schools do that I HATE because they cock-up administratively and always make out they have told you / are telling you things they aren't.

Also the pack mentions starting days in jargony terms which I think is about them not starting with whole days. But I need to be told "on this date your child will be at school between these times". And I need to make arrangements. I am not going to cope well with this. Already I am seething with rage at all this airy dismissiveness and lack of clarity.

daftdame Wed 19-Jun-13 12:29:15

curryeater And it begins.... I think in the end you just have to develop a very thick skin.

PastSellByDate Wed 19-Jun-13 12:49:52

Hi curryeater:

birth certificate thing - yes this seems to be a new thing, our school started asking for this last year. They asked everybody - so don't feel you're being singled out.

I'm uncertain whether this is 'new law' or is simply the LEA trying to get more statistical data on children in terms of SATs results (i.e. English as second language, non-UK national, etc...). Not sure if this is linked to increasingly strict immigration legislation - but it is very common here (not London, but large English city with very mutlicultural schools).


home visit/ school visit

Very normal to meet with teachers prior to starting school - this can be done at home or school.

home visit can be useful for teachers to understand the background/ the context of the child. From caring home, with happy parents, lots of toys/ books and clearly eager to start school. From very chaotic home, no obvious toys/ books seen, very shy child who hardly spoke. This can give a teacher a lot of clues about the child before they've even entered the classroom. It is worthwhile and although it can seem pigeon holing - it's also about identifying very early those children that may need a bit more help/ support from the school (which is a good thing).

What you can get out of a home visit:

1) let the teacher know if there are any issues (i.e. DD is left handed, and we'd prefer her to be writing left-handed/ playing left-handed, etc...).

2) raise any issues: medical needs/ emotional needs (some children may be refugees/ have lost a parent or a sibling recently).

3) learn about the teachers.

When we had our meeting, it was at the school and one teacher went off with DD and did a few simple games to test her abilities. The school will learn if your DC has been to a nursery school or play groups (so is used to be with lots of other children), see a bit of your child so your child's first proper visit into the school is to people they've met before (makes it less scary for your child) and it is an opportunity for the teachers to spend a bit of quiet uninterrupted time assessing your child (and you I'm afraid) without other interruptions.

Our nursery prepared their EYFS assessment reports for both DDs in time for this visit so we could give the information to the school. School seemed genuinely surprised, clearly other nurseries feeding into the school weren't as efficient.


Now in terms of the school ordering you to meet them at x time. That's probably to discourage a large number of parents calling and changing times on them. But if it doesn't work for you - why not call and see if there is a more convenient time to meet. For example, could they see you last on that day, after you've finished work (possibly early - could you start earlier than normal and finish at 4, meeting the teachers at 4:30? Could you arrange to make up the hours missed over the week - which is what I did for this type of thing).

I'm sure there is a way around it - and if you can't make that appointment, I'd suggest you ring the school, explain this presents a problem for work (because you've had time off for the house move recently) - and ask if it would be possible to reschedule rather than just cancel. You'll probably find the school would be happier to reschedule than cancel.


storynanny Wed 19-Jun-13 18:20:35

Of course the school needs to see your birth certificate, although doesnt need to be when they visit you at home. They need to ascertain that they are the age a parent says they are. Just in case a child starts school too young by "mistake" as has happened in the past.

LBsBongers Thu 20-Jun-13 13:17:46

My DS benefited from meeting his teacher and TA at home, teacher talked through things they will do at school and how they come into the building.

I do think some point to the visit is to check you live where you do and that you don't have dog poo on the sofa.

curryeater I'm in your club. We can hold hands.

We have also been told dd's home visit WILL be on x day at x time. This will not be rearranged. (we can't do that time)

Then there is a whole ranting page about unauthorised absences.

And then there is a bit about your child being able to start part-time if you want but that all children should be admitted in Sept, which has got me in a rage because I know that the LAW states that children don't have to be in school until after their 5th birthday - but that the school will lose funding if they aren't marked in in Sept. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

So - lies. (and how can we discuss this if there is no home visit etc.)

Then there is a form I have to sign about not talking about the school or their decisions online (oops, breached that already), which iirc is expecting me to forego my lawful right to freedom of expression.

etc. etc. etc.

Like you, I have a massive distrust of schools based on past experiences.

Oh DD's school refused to reschedule........

Viviennemary Thu 20-Jun-13 13:43:17

I would think that this cannot be re-arranged visit was to confirm that you actually live at the address you say you do. I don't think there is any alternative but to ring the school.

I rang the school. They said 'tough!' hmm

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 13:49:45

I think this is why, once children are settled in school, people stop reading (or claim to have) newsletters, any letters, signing weird 'school contracts' etc. Parents 'dropping and running' as soon as they are able, or putting them in breakfast / after school club to avoid avoid avoid the school staff.

The schools find it difficult to chase them all. Would have difficulty making them adhere to all the non-statutory in law policies. The evade and avoid is just a less confrontational tactic that parents adopt, if they can. No wonder schools are moaning parents don't want to be involved!

LackaDAISYcal Thu 20-Jun-13 13:51:51

Our reception class doesn't start until 12th September because teachers are out doing home visits. I wonder how this sits with the staggered start stuff? Can I insist that they take him on September 3rd? I'm starting a new job as a college support worker, so need to be available from the very start of the autumn term.

I am horrified though that the school are being so inflexible. Surely they realsie that people work, and those that work will already have used a great deal of their annual leave covering the previous six weeks?

LackaDAISYcal Thu 20-Jun-13 13:52:58

OMG Starlight; they are making you sign a gagging order? shock

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 13:55:42

Starlight The 'gagging order' is also so impractical, if your child has to see anyone regarding their educational needs you would have to divulge the relevant information. They couldn't enforce it, could they?

Yes. It would seem so.

I think it might be fair enough to ask parents to refrain from discussing and naming teachers on social networking sites, but not to sign a form saying they won't even discuss any decisions that the school makes.

So, technically, I can't post and say 'ds' teacher seems to think she is on green book and she reads tangerine books at home, what should I do?'

or 'AIBU to think that if the school want dd to wear suncream they should apply it themselves' etc etc.

My dc have all went to the same nursery and school,
but just recently upon my dd starting their nursery this september they also have changed the first visit from being at school to a visit in the home.
Must say not being used to this being the schools way, i thought it was rather odd and wondered why they do now do this-Can only come the conclusion, it is for address purposes ie: to check you really live in the 'catchment' zone.

daft It is to say you won't discuss the school or their decisions ONLINE.

They also say they will prosecute if they find this has been the case, which is a bit [confusing] as I don't know any laws that would allow this.

HumphreyCobbler Thu 20-Jun-13 13:59:51

Gosh Starlight, that school sounds shocking.

OP - I have taught in several schools that never did home visits. No problems resulted from this lack. I would not be impressed at having to take a day off work. I would phone the school and state that I could not be there on that day and say I would drop off the certificate in the office.

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:00:17

Starlight I'd like to see the IT dept that'll do all the investigation! grin

Maybe that's where all the funding goes...

Don't think so pumpkin as we have also moved twice in the last year and they couldn't give two hoots that we can't make the home visit due to our caring duties towards our disabled son.

I couldn't give two hoots either to be fair.

mrsmortis Thu 20-Jun-13 14:01:33

Starlight - I think they would have to sue you for slander or similar...

It's a well-known school with families falling over themselves to get into.....

Slander? For asking if AIBU about the sun cream policy?

Oh gosh starlight that's me arrested then !
Many of time i have mentioned my children's school in statuses on fb as i have had problems with it since it became an 'academy'. Basically to get the word out that * academy isn't a good school so others don't send there kids there in future and to hear opinions from other mums of the school.

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:03:36

Not slander if you are only talking about decisions and not naming names.

TBH, I don't think I can sign the thing. I'm campaigning for MORE transparency within the public sector, and education in particular. It would go against my every fibre.

It's just turned an academy.

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:08:56

Starlight Bet they won't chase you for it anyway.

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:10:48

Starlight Do they ask both parents to sign? If not they've missed a trick...

Don't think so.

It's just one part of the whole home-school agreement document.

Galena Thu 20-Jun-13 14:20:52

Starlight, could you adapt it to say you will not discuss them by name online?

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:25:03

Starlight I don't think schools are allowed to insist you sign home school agreements.

Ed Balls postulated a lot about this but the legislation he was proposing was relaxed. They can ask, but can't force or take you to court over breach.

Quenelle Thu 20-Jun-13 14:26:12

DS's school is doing home visits in September too. Fortunately ours is on a day when DH works from home so not a problem, although the school did say they would rearrange if it wasn't convenient. Is your school full? DS's class only has 24 children so not so difficult to fit in over a week and a half.

I don't think it's to check home addresses. We are out of catchment for DS's school. Different LEA in fact. And the school is always undersubscribed. I think it's partly getting to know child in own environment, and partly safeguarding.

And yes, the home visits mean that school starts two weeks into September, and then there are two weeks of half days so full time school doesn't actually start until 30 September. DS's preschool is on the same site and they will take the Reception children while they are waiting to start, but it's occurred to me today that he probably won't be eligible for the 15 funded hours any more, because he's registered at the Lower School. If that is the case September is going to cost us a fortune sad

Regarding the old feelings resurfacing curryeater, have you been invited to a parents' meeting at the school yet? We went to ours last week and it was very useful. I was amazed how much primary school has changed since I went in the early 70s. The teachers and HT were very friendly and approachable. It was a bit tiresome being spoken to like four year olds by the HT but hopefully that won't last... hmm

The thing is I WANT to sign it. I want the whole thing to be positive for the sake of everyone.

I don't want to be making a stand against a school my dd isn't even in yet. hmm I don't want any concerns or accommodation requests to be denied or ignored because I am 'one of those' parents, (though very likely I really AM 'one of those' parents).

I have no anxieties about dd starting school. All my anxieties are about MY relationship with the school.

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:38:27

Starlight I get it. Could your children's father sign it, if he doesn't mind? I don't think it would be enforceable any way...Could you doctor the document so it was unnoticeable through clever scanning / photocopying? I know you shouldn't have to...

newschoolmum Thu 20-Jun-13 14:43:37

I started a similar thread yesterday. Have politely asked for clarification of the purpose of the home visit and whether dc needs to be there...

DH does shifts so will be vaguely awake and grumpy at them.

Out of interest, am I right that they can't refuse to admit a child if you refuse to sign a home-school agreement?

I imagine daftdame If I scribbled all over the thing it will not be read, just filed as the purpose is not to contract the parents to do anything, - but simply by asking them to sign it you have increased the chances that they will have read the wishes of the school.

daftdame Thu 20-Jun-13 14:51:20

Starlight That is how I understand it too smile

I signed our school's. Not that I actually had the power to enforce the whole of its adherence by I just have to hope...

pointythings Thu 20-Jun-13 20:09:05

With DD1 the school did not do home visits, with DD2 they did but I was between jobs at the time. They offered to change date/time if needed and were very flexible, and no gagging orders on the home-school agreement. Personally I'd have run a mile from a school pulling any of that stuff...

lljkk Sat 22-Jun-13 10:08:13

One thing to learn about schools is that they decide a lot of things very last minute so what seems like dismissiveness is simply "We don't know yet"-ness.

Sounds like you might be off to a very bad start, CurryEater.

GibberTheMonkey Sat 22-Jun-13 11:17:38

I have been chased across a playground to be told I had forgotten to sign the home/school agreement by a secretary calling me very loudly.
She didn't seem to understand that I hadn't forgotten I had chose not to.
I will not be signing again with this new school.
Twice bitten... I'm not taking the risk of all the weight being on their side

GibberTheMonkey Sat 22-Jun-13 11:21:08


And this time I will be that parent rather than buckling

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