Has anyone else visited Harris Crystal Palace and Dunraven Open Days this week?

(11 Posts)
starrystarrynights Sun 22-Sep-13 14:11:56

I attended both open days this week and although I've heard great things about each school I'm finding it really difficult to compare them.

Harris CP was totally mobbed as they only do one open evening a year, there was a massive one way system in force through out the school, the poor student guide kept losing her group as there was so many of us and so many queues in operation! It was so crowded and each room was packed and we could not see the school work or the teachers in the crowds. The head teacher unfortunately was suffering from laryngitis so one of the deputies delivered the Head's speech and it was far from inspiring unfortunately, reading from a script focussing on how over subscribed and popular the school was.

The head at Dunraven's speech was totally inspiring on the other hand! Talking about developing the whole child and bout his responsibilities as the Head of the school. He offered to wait to the very end to answer any individual questions as he knew that choosing a school was a huge decision. The school was much less crowded so we had time to have a chat with of the teachers as we were passing and they and the pupils just looked really happy, it just wasn't possible to get that sense at cp.

I realise that i might be doing CP as disservice though due to the circumstances of its open event. DH couldn't come to CP unfortunately, DD thought the schools were similar.

Did anyone else attend, and what did you think??

MiddleRageSpread Sun 22-Sep-13 18:15:46

I have done the Dunraven open eve - not CP as we would not be in catchment.

The Head at Dunraven is wonderful. And they do seem to work really well at that 'whole child' thing and get extremely good results. The student who showed us around was so proud of the school and happy at it. The behaviour of the students locally is very good.

We did Elmgreen 2 years ago, there were fewer teachers to talk to and the focus seemed to be more on the ethos than the actual education.

The catchment for CP is shrinking isn't it? I asked about the Dunraven catchments, it varies from band to band. I like it that they take in an equal number of students from across 5 ability bands.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 22-Sep-13 22:40:30

I went to Harris CP, exactly the same experience as you, although we also visited last year (when dd was in yr5) so I knew what to expect and managed to close my eyes a bit to the crowds and pay attention to the facilities, etc etc. I was more impressed this time than last time, it's clearly an excellent school with great facilities, and dd said she would be happy to go there. I must admit I agree with you about the "head's" speech!! Droned from a piece of paper with slideshow and that was it - however, i did appreciate that it was pretty factual with no fancy marketing flair (a la another school i shall not name...). Someone else I know went at the very last minute when the crowds had died down and she managed to talk to a couple of teachers and said she was quite impressed herself too. I just don't understand why they are so unwelcoming - only one Open Evening for 3000+ visitors, and you can't arrange to visit the school at any other time either. Ridiculous.

By the way, there is no catchment area for Harris CP in the usual sense - they take 10% based on results of a Technology test, and then 90% of the rest is picked by lottery from within a 2 mile radius, and the final 10% from anywhere. So, MiddleRageSpread, it's not shrinking - however, as (they said) 2000+ people apply, for 180 places, the chances of getting in aren't great.

Anyway, I personally am a little sceptical about the Harrises, but as we're surrounded by them here, i have no choice but to include at least one on our list!

NynaevesSister Mon 23-Sep-13 07:53:09

Harris CP is our second closest but it is depressing how many applications they get. The children I know who go there are happy with it. Depressingly Kingsdale is our closest school which isn't fair. I am worried we are going to fall into a little black hole where we live in a couple of years. We may be too far from even Norwood School to get in if it keeps improving like this sad

MiddleRageSpread Mon 23-Sep-13 13:52:31

A Lottery within a certain radius makes sense (if schools are going to use a lottery). I hadn't realised CP did that when we thought of looking there a few years ago.

It sounds as if you have 2 good options, anyway, Starry. And will you go for the KD lottery? I did the KD open day 2 years ago and was impressed with the teachers and students, but didn't get much detail or substance from the Head's speech or parents presentations.

What are the respective GCSE options at Dunraven and CP? Do they both do triple science? Can you do more than one humanity and more than one language?

sydenhamhiller Thu 03-Oct-13 13:24:03

Oh I am sooo pleased I've found this thread!

I missed the one-and-only Harris CP Open Evening as DC3 was running a temp of 41C, and it's our 2nd closest school, so also very annoyed they are so 'unwelcoming'.

I knew it was over-subscribed, but had not realised by how much. That is worse odds that a certain grammar I visited. Kingsdale is our closest school by far, and despite certain reservations, the one I'd probably pick, just in terms of commute - but I'm loathe to leave our chances to a lottery.

I am intrigued by the technology test (curses, if only it was maths!). Has anyone got any more information on it they might be willing to share ?grin)

bigTillyMint Thu 03-Oct-13 13:46:05

Sydenamhillier, if your DC has any musical/sporting or mathematical ability, it is definitely worth putting them in for the "scholarship" assessments at Kingsdale.

Also, even if you didn't get it first, I know of some children who got offered places before the term started. And after.

swhobbit Thu 03-Oct-13 20:42:15

Hija,
Would agree with BigTillymint, Ds went for both Maths & music scholarship entry at KD couple of years ago. Was unsuccessful at both but got a lottery banded place & is now ( although not a true scholar ) in scholar set for maths & has a free music lesson weekly. Def worth giving a go , things have really settled down after the dramas last year & Ds very very happy grin

Evageorge Thu 03-Oct-13 21:15:18

If you want to figure out what open evenings really tell you, www.how-to-choose-a-school.org has a section dedicated to this. It's a not for profit site, which attempts to be impartial.

Lyonessesmifta Mon 01-Sep-14 20:19:52

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Blu Wed 03-Sep-14 08:27:10

Lyonesses: have you joined MN to post this message on all the threads about Harris CP? Have you got a vendetta against this Head?

OP - what did you decide in the end?

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