I think that's a good plan. Secondary school open days tend to be very close together - they often clash - and, if you live in an area with lots of schools, getting to them all can be a logistical headache. Spreading it over two years can be a good option.
I looked at all schools, so I could compare. Even schools which we were out of catchment for, because I wanted to see how they compared.
I looked at one school at the end of Y4, just to rule out because it was't close. The head's speech blew me away. We looked around several more times (including when pupils were working) and DS now goes there, as will my younger DC.
If I'd fallen in love with another school I would have made sure we were on the waiting list/moved house.
Start in year 5 to get your shortlist and then watch your preferred school for results, pupil behavior, activities, discipline and pastoral care. Then visit again in Year 6 and make your decision. Good luck
DS is in Y5, and most schools held their open evenings recently, and we can now apply on line. If schools aren't having open days in September, then you've missed the boat. Applications have to be in by early Oct, I think. Things may be different in your area.
I would not get swayed by the fact that a given school has maths and ICT speciality
In fact what you are describing resembles few schools near to where I live. The more schools you visit the better feel for it you'll get. Go for 2 open days/evenings in the same school - second time round you are going to notice different things. If you are in London area you can put 6 schools on - it would be good to visit all of them as order of choice does matter. Spend some time reading up their websites, what after school activities do they offer etc. & good luck
Sorry, LynetteScavo; I thought you were implying that end of Y4 is leaving it a little late to start looking. I agree with you that end of Y5 doesn't leave much time unless you are lucky with dates of open days.
In our area, most of the schools require the children to sit an aptitude test, for selection or banding. In DS2's case we had to register him for the test in the June of Y5!
It's an excellent plan. Exactly what I did No, seriously, it's the norm around here, because we genuinely have a realistic choice of 5 or6 schools, and all the open evenings come quite close together, so, if you are down with flu and a raging temperature in that fortnight of Yr6, you wouldn't have a clue. Not PFB at all, just sensible.
We have the Y5's from local primary schools in for taster days this week and the HT is doing non-stop parent tours at the moment. I think it is very sensible to look at the choice locally now so you can narrow it down by Y6.
I agree about not being swayed by the specialty or which school is currently good at certain subjects. The speciality means very little, and departmental heads leaving can change a school's strengths. There are more important, and more stable, factors IMO. I have sat and listened to HTs bleat on about their specialty and all it really boiled down to was slight tweaks to what subjects were compulsory at GCSE. Everything else was much the same as its neighbours.
yeah, speciality in ICY in one of the schools I know quite well means Head is maneuvering able kids to take equivalent of 4 gcse's - I bet this is happening at expense of them being able maybe to get b into a or a into a* in one or 2 other subjects whilst that ICT qualification he promotes is worthless when they apply for 6th form and perhaps their grades aren't as good in other subjects as they should have been
I would look for a round experience with many various clubs on offer - this s expression of teachers dedication to school