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To want to look around a school before making a decision?

(42 Posts)
Greentriangle82 Thu 19-Nov-15 13:00:30

Just in the middle of putting our three choices of schools on council admissions form for dd to start school next September. The school we were thinking of putting 1st doesn't have an open day. I have asked would it be possible to look around and they've said they don't have an open day or allow prospective parents to look around but we are welcome to look around if we get offered a place. Is this the norm? In our area all the other schools have had open days/ evenings which we've been to. The school we are thinking of putting 1st is rated 'good' by ofsted and has a fairly good reputation within the area. When I approached the school asking would it be possible to have a look around at a convenient time to them they said they don't have viewings as they don't need to because they 'fill the places' every year, aibu to be out off by this? Should schools have open days/ evenings or is reading ofsted reports and local opinion enough to go on when choosing schools?

Sighing Thu 19-Nov-15 13:22:07

It sounds very lazy. Are there facilities very dated? They may be aware that will be their weakness.

CocktailQueen Thu 19-Nov-15 13:23:49

No! Schools should be willing top open their doors and let prospective parents in.

Did an open morning today - walked round all the classes to see the teaching and how the kids behaved; the teachers spoke to us and my dc; we got to interact with lessons, saw work the dc had done, etc. Very helpful indeed.

DisappointedOne Thu 19-Nov-15 13:24:42

I only looked at one (our catchment Welsh school) but got a really good feeling about it when I did. It's a small school, the head gave me as much time as I wanted and we had a good chat afterwards. I've never read their inspection reports because that system is fucked up. DD has been there for a year and a bit (now in reception) and loves it.

I'd be unhappy about choosing a school without ever stepping foot over the threshold. Do they have a Xmas fair or something you could go to to see it?

Finola1step Thu 19-Nov-15 13:35:54

If you can, wander up there just before home time. Hang around for a bit. What do you see? Are parents allowed on the premises? Or do they wait behind gates/ fences?

I would be very concerned about a school that has such a closed door policy. My dc's school is ridiculously hard to get in to. This year, 46 siblings for 60 places. The furthest on distance was something like 0.1 mile. People move to the area for the schools (we did). Yesterday was their open morning. All classes open for tours. Year 6s taking the parents round. Welcome speech from the Head. Q and A session after the tour etc etc. They don't need to for numbers, they choose to.

So I would be very concerned with a school that chooses to keep parents of such young children at arms length.

PingpongDingDong Thu 19-Nov-15 13:39:43

Yanbu. We are only a small school but anyway we welcome parents anytime, pretty much however many times they wish. I will admit to feeling a little bit fed up after some parents asked to come a third time after 2 previously intense visits but I said yes! They did choose our school and all is well!!

Greentriangle82 Thu 19-Nov-15 13:41:04

Not sure About facilities as not been any further than the reception area but the entrance and yard look ok. It's off putting as it's got me thinking would they be unaccommodating if she were to get a place? It comes across as unfriendly to me but I'm unsure if I'm bu and this is the norm in other areas? I asked to speak to the head regarding it and was advised that that is their policy and the head will reiterate that. I didn't want to argue as I don't want to get off on the wrong foot before DD has even started there ( if she goes there) but the more I think about it the more I'm questioning whether to put it as 2nd or 3rd place which is a shame really as it's our nearest and ( seemingly on paper) 'best' school.

deepdarkwood Thu 19-Nov-15 13:44:09

We live in a an area where there is often not enough places for children - and a lot of very oversubscribed schools, and every school runs at least 1 open evening, and a number of daytime tours where parents can be shown around. I would be seriously umimpressed with that sort of approach -doesn't bode very well for a) attitude to parents involvement b) attitude to children/flexibility

(As an example - ds moved schools in year to a very oversubscribed school - we got to the top of the list. I said I wasn't prepared to move him unless we have the chance to take a tour AND then he also got the opportunity to come round himself afterwards. The school organised both of these in the space of a few days)

WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Thu 19-Nov-15 13:46:44

You need to be happy leaving your children somewhere for 35 hours a week.

I would be suspicious of a place that didn't let us in!

A good ofstead rating isn't the highest. Outstanding is what they should be getting.

I would turn up as the other parents are collecting kids. Chat to them. Ask what they think of the school. If they don't mind, ask the kids who their teacher is. Is s/he nice? Do they do much art to go on the walls? Do they have many trips? Are the dinners nice?

Nothing personal to the kids, but it will give you an idea of how happy kids are there.

ShoeJunkie Thu 19-Nov-15 13:48:57

YANBU- we missed the open day to one of the possible schools for ds1. The school has been only too happy to arrange for dh and me to go round in a weeks time.
It would ring alarm bells for me tbh.

YBR Thu 19-Nov-15 13:55:32

YANBU
Where I live there is one Primary which is in fact 2 schools (infant and Junior); all others are through primary schools. We wanted to visit the Junior (as well as infant) before deciding our preferences because the logical consequence of going to the infant is no choice at Junior transfer. Rung the Junior school and they'd never been asked for a visit in these circumstances before.
I had to chase them up but they did do a visit for us.

Round here I'm not aware of Open days at any of the state primary schools but they do invite parents to arrange to visit.

PinkSquash Thu 19-Nov-15 14:01:31

Sounds like 'my' school. DS1 started in reception and now in yr 5 at the school and I wanted to look round the nursery for DS2 as we hadn't attended there before. They took details, promising me a visit (this was in April and I got a phone call at the beginning of October for a look round the whole school. By then it was too late as I'd gone with a preschool for DS2 that encourages parents to visit before their child attends.

I worked a lot within DS1s school and it is lovely, but the office staff are reluctant to get someone to show you round and it's such a shame. The school is classed as outstanding but is resting on its laurels. Risky business.

I think you need to see the facilities yourself before you commit to a school, it is a huge decision and one that shouldn't be made lightly.

Snossidge Thu 19-Nov-15 14:04:31

From the school's perspective, open days are disruptive and take some time and effort, to no benefit for the pupils or school. If they fill all their places anyway, why should they do it?

teacherwith2kids Thu 19-Nov-15 14:14:21

When DS and DD were looking at secondary schools, I found it hard to attend some open days because they were during the school day and I am a teacher elsewhere.

I rang the schools concerned, with some dates / times that I could manage:

- School 1 (selective) collected a group of parents together who had not been able to attend the open day, and did a 'catch up' tour.

- School 2 (massively over-subscribed comp) gave me a personalised tour at a time of my convenience with the assistant head, who took time to find out my individual questions and concerns and sought out teachers and pupils tio talk with me about them.

- School 3 (selective) absolutely refused, stating that they never, under any circumstances, allowed parents to look round the school except during open days. They were so rude that I have to say I did ask what they were afraid of me seeing...

Funnily enough, School 3 did NOT make it onto our form...

Sunnymeg Thu 19-Nov-15 14:24:52

I think Snossidge is right, this is probably a school that is massively oversubscribed and doesn't feel the need to show parents round. The village primary DS went to has an open day, but it is never advertised. The school assumes that the parents that need to know about it, will know about through their contacts in the village and if you don't move in village circles then you probably aren't going to get your child in the school anyway.

Greentriangle82 Thu 19-Nov-15 14:27:45

Looked on the school website they do have a Christmas fair coming up thanks for the tip! I'm sure it does take a reasonable amount of planning to have open evenings but it's difficult to make such a big decision on reports and hearsay alone.

ButterflyUpSoHigh Thu 19-Nov-15 14:43:37

Normal here, none of the primary schools do visits only the secondary schools.

DamnBamboo Thu 19-Nov-15 15:30:11

It is not normal.
AS a governor, if the headteacher was refusing visits from prospective parents, I would want to know why.
YANBU

DamnBamboo Thu 19-Nov-15 15:34:27

Open days are really not that disruptive at all.
And there are only two of them (generally) for a couple of hours each.
I fail to see the problem is organising these and question the transparency of not doing so.
OFSTEDs don't tell you an awful lot.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 19-Nov-15 15:35:14

Si've never known a school not to have Open mornings/evenings, even if they are over subscribed. It smacks of complacency in my view and they may well find themselves losing that enviable position in future.

How can you possibly make comparisons if you don't look at schools? Please don't rely on Ofsted reports. They're a snapshot on a couple of days, other than the data they provided for the visit. They won't give you a feel of he school at all.

Any school that won't attempt to accommodate your desire to visit would be crossed off my list forthwith.

Chattymummyhere Thu 19-Nov-15 16:22:31

My sons oversubscribed school does them but doesn't advertise them, I think 90% of the intake is siblings.

I would be concerned if a school didn't want me to look around but then again I knew which school I wanted before I looked at them anyway. I've done my dds application without looking at any schools as first choice is my ds and the other two have been selected due to logistics if she doest get a place at ds's school we will put her on their waiting list.

londonrach Thu 19-Nov-15 16:30:35

Id want to know..what they hiding. Very strange behaviour. Judging by friends and dsis all schools hold open days.

BondJayneBond Thu 19-Nov-15 16:34:13

All the primary schools we considered for DS1 were happy to let parents look around the school.

Some of them had formal open days / evenings, and these schools also said that if parents wanted another look around during a normal school day, this could be arranged.
Some of them did not do open days / evenings, but were happy for me to make an appointment to see the school.

Having said that, schools round where I live don't tend to be as oversubscribed as in some areas, so maybe they're less complacent about filling the available places. But if a school had refused to let us see it, then it would have put us off. It's a massive decision to make, especially if the school refusing to open it's doors is a school that you've got a good chance at getting a place in.

teacherwith2kids Thu 19-Nov-15 16:39:38

I think, btw, it is absolutely fine not to have an open day or open morning, but it should instead be possible to book an individual or small group visit during a working day at a mutually convenient time.

Some schools do open days, some are simply open for visits year-round (round here, the secondary model is mainly open days, the primary mainly group or individual visits). Burt for a school to do neither is ... suspicious.

tobysmum77 Thu 19-Nov-15 16:41:27

Remember yesterday's OFSTED good may be tomorrow's Special Measures (I speak from experience of this) , its not acceptable imo.

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