Visiting secondary schools

(17 Posts)
Deinonychus Sat 27-Feb-16 20:30:48

Hi, after some advice please. Ds is in year 4 and we are starting to think about secondary school options. We have a comprehensive down the road which we are well within catchment for which is huge, goes up and down in terms of ofsted reports, but is currently "good", GCSEs not great. There is also a grammar school in the next area which is "outstanding" and a more average size. Some children from our area do get into the grammar, even though children from the school's area get priority, but just passing the 11 plus isn't a given for admission for where we live. Ds would have to get a bus to get there.
Ds is bright and confident. Would probably do ok anywhere but I want to give him the best possible option for him. Private is not an option for us.
To pass the 11 plus Ds would need to do some work, his primary (quite rightly as we are not a grammar school area) will not do any preparation for the 11 plus. Ds would therefore have to do some papers in his own time, possibly a little bit of tutoring.
My question is this - we would really like to visit both of the schools in year 5 (this autumn) to see whether the grammar would be the best fit for Ds and give him some motivation to do some work if it is, so we have time to prepare him for the 11 plus. And to not put him through it if we both feel that the comprehensive would suit him better.
Is this completely crazy mum behaviour? Does anyone else ever visit in year 5? Would we even be allowed to go on the open days?
Thanks for your advice.

ChalkHearts Sat 27-Feb-16 20:33:19

I visited at the open evening in Y5 for all my DC. In fact I made all my decisions then not in Y6.

Open evening are normally in Sep or Oct.

Oh and don't get freaked out by the 11+. It's really not as bad as the stories you hear.

SelfRaisingFlour Sat 27-Feb-16 20:36:19

Lots of people do visits in year 4. We did. Year 5 is a completely normal time to go to Open Days.

Sadik Sat 27-Feb-16 20:37:32

Totally normal to visit in yr 5 - everyone does it here (two options on school, and you're guaranteed to get whichever of the two you choose). I seem to remember they even have their first taster days towards the end of yr 5.

Deinonychus Sat 27-Feb-16 20:39:05

That's great to hear - thanks everyone!

seven201 Sat 27-Feb-16 20:39:22

I'm a secondary teacher and yr 5 children and parents visiting for open day/eve is very normal.

Bunbaker Sat 27-Feb-16 20:40:14

We started looking at secondary schools in year 5.

Wigeon Sat 27-Feb-16 20:43:05

Round here (Herts) everyone does the visits in y5, because the tests for the semi selectives are right at the start of y6.

Have you looked on the 11+ forum? There are specific boards for different areas too.

Deinonychus Sat 27-Feb-16 20:45:16

Thanks all - none of my mum friends seem to be considering the grammar and given there's not a lot of options in our area (the other high school is Catholic) they hadn't even thought of visiting before year 6.

Deinonychus Sat 27-Feb-16 20:48:19

Thanks - I will start looking into the 11+ if we decide to give the grammar school a go.

RapidlyOscillating Sat 27-Feb-16 20:52:03

Round here the Grammar open days are in the summer so year 4 would be the only sensible time to go really, assuming the decision to tutor or not is based on the visits?

ChalkHearts Sat 27-Feb-16 20:55:35

One of my DC go to an out of area grammar. None of my friends considered it. And I have no idea why.

I think their DC have really missed out in some ways. Although they've gained by being able to walk to school....

But the education is totally different. It's not the same as my other DC are getting in top set at the local school. And I am very pleased.

Deinonychus Sat 27-Feb-16 21:18:54

Just found the other area's secondary school prospectus - it is indeed July for the grammar's open day whereas all other schools' appear to be in the autumn. Thanks for making me check. I guess we will have a look round this year and then make a decision on whether to prepare for the exam.

Adamajudeh Sun 28-Feb-16 22:53:19

go for Grammar.

Leeds2 Sun 28-Feb-16 23:49:13

We went in Year 5 for the grammar. And ruled it out as a result of that visit.

Badbadbunny Mon 29-Feb-16 10:20:56

Yes, our local grammar (next town) have their open day in June because of the 11+ exam which is in September.

As to visiting, do as many as possible, not just your local comp and the grammar. We did five, including 3 comps, a church comp and the grammar. Our son preferred the grammar, hated the church comp, and wasn't keen on any of the normal comps. Because he liked the grammar, it really gave him the impetus to put the work into passing the 11+.

What really swung it for him was that the grammar, despite being old, dark and austere, was very friendly, with the teachers going out of their way to talk to us, to engage with our son, even down to playing board games and simple tasks - many took him aside, sat him down with them and spent five minutes or so doing activities on a one-to-one basis, and tours were done either by sixth formers or teachers. None of the other schools did anything like that - mostly the teachers just stood in groups chatting to each other and ignoring the parents/children unless we specifically went over to ask them something and tours were done by first formers who didn't really know what they were doing.

Seeing five different schools really highlighted the differences between them, and if he hadn't got into the grammar, the second choice was certainly not the closest comp - it looked OK, but other comps further away were far more impressive.

NotEnoughTime Mon 29-Feb-16 12:36:44

Deinonychus
We went to look around all the local schools when my older DS was in year 5-as did many others so I don't think you will be seen as unusual at all.

Leeds2
Do you mind me asking why?

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