Secondary school open days/evenings

(39 Posts)
KayJBee Tue 13-Sep-16 19:17:35

When looking at secondary schools, did you take your child with you? did you find it better to go to a morning, when all the pupils are there or to an evening when the school is closed?

We have 3 schools we'd like to look at. All offer open mornings and evenings. If we go to a morning, we'd have to take child out of school to come with us. She has 100% attendance for 3 years in a row, I hate taking tham out of school. If we did them all it would be 3 x mornings out of school, that is a lot to me.

Would we get the same feel for the school at an open evening, just seeing empty classrooms?

Over 95% of pupils from our school go to the nearest school without even looking at others so I haven't really got anyone I can ask.

What say mumsnet please?

Toomanycats99 Tue 13-Sep-16 19:22:17

I've only been to one open evening and all the groups were lead by pupils and there were other pupils doing work in the rooms. Eg science experiments to join in with. My daughter is only y4 so I didn't take her but when it comes to next year I think it is vital they go - they need to be confident they could be happy there.

Miloarmadillo1 Tue 13-Sep-16 19:25:23

Following. My DS1 is in Yr5. We're going to have a nosey round as many of the options as possible this year, probably just one parent without DS. Next year when he's Yr6 and it's decision time we'll take him to any we are seriously considering. I'd rather see them when they are all in school, but most of the local schools seem to close very early to 'sanitise' the site for the open evening, but I appreciate it must be a ball ache for the school if there are hundreds of potential applicants wanting to look round. I'm going to make a point of chatting to parents of pupils already at the various schools too.

noblegiraffe Tue 13-Sep-16 19:33:31

Our open evenings are set up expecting the kids to come along. When I see parents on a school-time tour they also often have their child with them.

BackforGood Tue 13-Sep-16 19:40:21

Open evenings. They set them up so there are things for the dc to try / taste / etc. Really worth while doing. There will be a talk by the HT usually and lots of things to see and do.
On a 'working morning' they will be doing just that - working. Teaching the current pupils, so you won't get to speak to whichever teachers you want, etc.
Makes far more sense to go to the open evenings.
Also not really justifiable to take dc out of school when the evenings are put on for that very purpose.

HoppityFrogs Tue 13-Sep-16 19:44:53

Yes, always. They have to go to the school after all.

Leeds2 Tue 13-Sep-16 20:20:02

I went to loads of Open Days when DD was in Year 4 and 5, leaving her in school. In fact, she didn't know I was going! I took her to the ones I liked at the start of Year 6, having already eliminated a couple. We tended to go on a Saturday, but I wouldn't be bothered about her missing 3 mornings of school for something so important, if you have already selected the 3 potential schools. Her input is important.

bojorojo Tue 13-Sep-16 20:40:29

Take your DD to the evening ones. I assume these are state schools so Saturday mornings would not be available. We did go on Saturdays to boarding schools. If you both like a couple of the schools, try and go back on the mornings without your DD to see the school in action and see if you like the ethos on a working day. If most go to the local school, check you have a reasonable chance of getting into the other schools or you may be raising your hopes only to have them dashed when they fill up from catchment (or other admission criteria).

MrGrumpy01 Tue 13-Sep-16 21:21:44

I am doing open evenings with my dd. In fact we have done our first tonight. None of the schools offer open mornings.

I might then go alone in the day. The school we went to tonight has an open door policy, I am not sure about the other 4 we need to see.

PettsWoodParadise Tue 13-Sep-16 21:45:52

We had a lot more schools to vist than that and we took DD to our top ones in Y4. 2 were in school time, the others, about 4 were either in school time and we didn't take DD or were evenings. In Y5 we mopped up those we missed in Y4. DD was inspired by the girls who showed her round two particular schools so it gave her more incentive to try hard at her entrance tests (state and grammar) so it was priceless her going to the schools. These happened to be the ones out of school time but the rewards reaped as a result of those visits were manifold - so in hindsight if they'd been during the school day I wouldn't have had qualms. DD loved school and we firmly believed in encouraging attendance but also thinking about the future and not just following a defined path without variation -.so I'd say that the message is - within proportion other school visits within school time are exploring solid foundations for the future.

HanYOLO Tue 13-Sep-16 21:50:26

We took DS1 to open evenings in Y5, and then in Y6 went in the day-time to the two we needed to choose between (had passed entrance test to grammar, but had to decide between that and another school). School were more than happy to authorise abscence - and marked it down as educated elsewhere.
Open evenings are designed to be fun, there are activities, it is a marketing exercise. How well they do it may tell you quite a lot. IMO talking to parents of those currently attending, and a daytime visit guided by staff (if possible) gives you better info.

mummytime Tue 13-Sep-16 22:00:10

Some of our schools have evening meetings just for parents and daytime tours for parents and children. Others have open evenings and more parent orientated daytime tours. Lots of children have time off for at least 3 daytime visits. It is useful for them to see the school in "normal" as well as "display mode".
The kids going to private have even more time off for exams etc.

BackforGood Tue 13-Sep-16 22:59:12

Maybe this is a Geographical thing.
I'm not aware of anyone who has had time off to go to look round schools here (3 dc gone through the process and I chat to LOTS of parents at cubs, swimming, etc.,etc. plus I'm a teacher).
I can't imagine either the secondary schools being too impressed with hoardes of visitors when they are trying to teach (I realise they put on an open morning for the odd family who need to do this for some reason), nor can I imagine the Primary schools would be too impressed. Even ignoring the point that they go to a lot of trouble to put things on for the children at the open evenings.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Tue 13-Sep-16 23:07:48

I've done both. DD is in year 6 now and has an exemplary attendance record (about 5 days sick in her whole school life and never off for holidays or similar) so I feel that at this point I can justify a couple of hours to see a school in normal daytime mode as well as how it was at Open evening last term. We did one today and she was back in school before morning break, not a massive loss of time and it was put down as education in the register. We only have two possibilities, not looking round lots of schools so I may well take her to the other one next month too.

mummytime Wed 14-Sep-16 07:56:17

My DC's secondary runs tours on a weekly basis except during application season when it has two mornings where it takes pretty much everyone through on group tours. (Outside of this it is often taking groups of: visiting dignitaries, teachers from other schools, trainee teachers, prospective teachers etc. Around the school). Teachers are well used to being observed at random points through the day.

Traalaa Wed 14-Sep-16 08:38:23

I went with DS to open evenings, then me or DH went back to the morning ones if it was a school we were considering The ones during the day are really useful as you see the school in session. Even though there's an element of everyone on best behaviour you still get a sense of what the school's like in terms of calm (or not!)

oklumberjack Wed 14-Sep-16 09:14:56

We did both.

Some schools we visited put on an open evening (with headmasters speech etc) plus tour of the school by older pupils where exciting 'events' took place within certain rooms - e.g. Drama in the drama room, a small orchestra in the music room, touch and feel historical artifacts for history and science experiments etc. All very designed for prospective students to join in.

Other schools had a separate open evening with headmasters speech and then designated open mornings where a few pupils took us on a school tour for about an hour. These were very much quieter affairs obviously (as the children were learning!).

My dd's primary were more than happy for my dd to go on an open morning and it was put down as 'attending elsewhere' for a morning.

CaurnieBred Wed 14-Sep-16 09:21:13

We took DD to the afternoon and evening sessions for our local schools - for the afternoon session she was collected after the register was taken. We then took her out to visit the main contender during their open morning (which is limited to a set number of people). We got an authorised absence from her Primary school for this.

redskytonight Wed 14-Sep-16 12:37:10

I took DS (and will take DD) as I think it's important for the child to see their potential future school as well. Round here the open days are all evenings or Saturdays - I'd find it very odd (and probably impossible to manage from a space perspective) to walk round a school during the school day (and I also wouldn't want to take my child out of their current school).

As others have said, the school is set up to give you a flavor of what happens in school.

katalex Wed 14-Sep-16 13:58:19

Day time tours are common where I live. Our primary marked it as an educational activity or educated off site so DD's attendance was not affected. When we were looking for a school for DD last year we went to both the open evenings and day time tours and I would highly recommend it if you can go to both. I found that you get a very different view of the school when the children are in lessons. The open evenings are very crowded and hectic and the school is showing you what they want you to see. However, the day time tours give you a different perspective on the school. There was one school that I wasn't sure of after the open evening but, after the tour and seeing the lessons in progress I was really impressed. Likewise, there was a school that I really liked on the open evening but, after visiting during the day, I realised it really wasn't a good fit for dd.

katalex Wed 14-Sep-16 13:59:18

Forgot to add that we took dd with us to all school visits.

nickEcave Wed 14-Sep-16 16:14:38

My daughter is in Yr5 of a London school and we are starting to do open evenings and saturday open days this year. We are on the boundary of 3 boroughs and will probably need to look at 10 schools to narrow the list down to 6 and it will probably still be a lottery which one she actually gets! Can I ask people who've done this already, is it OK to take a younger sibling (age 6) to the open days/evenings? Both DH and I want to see the schools and we don't have anyone to leave DD2 with.

totoromama Wed 14-Sep-16 16:21:18

I'm going to go to one. My DD has just started Y6. It's our first choice. It's a all girls state school and a 15 min walk. It is under subscribed. It's new only 5 years old . She has been there in Y5 a few times. I'm worrying more about the other 2 picks we have to make.

TheBathroomSink Wed 14-Sep-16 16:39:28

A high school my dd could potentially go to is holding a 'taster day' for Y6 pupils next week, they get to spend the whole day there doing lessons. The open evening for prospective parents (and children) is the following week.

redskytonight Wed 14-Sep-16 17:58:26

nickE - it's fine to take the younger sibling if it's a big open evening. I'd bear in mind thought that if the evening features a headteacher's talk, they are likely to find it very dull. also they might find the whole "big school" thing quite overwhelming - my DD was reduced to tears when we took her to a school open day and she was 8!

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