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School viewing

(27 Posts)
cjt110 Tue 12-Sep-17 11:09:41

We've put our application for DS' primary school together online.I It doesn't close until Jan 18 and places are announced(?) in April 18.

I would like us to visit the schools we have chosen to make sure the order of preference we have selected are right, and also that we haven't submitted an application for a school we don't like. On paper, all 3 sound great.

Do schools do open days or do I ring to make an appointment? I have looked on their websites and cannot see anything. But perhaps it's later in the term?

2014newme Tue 12-Sep-17 11:13:25

They have open days

PutTheBunnyBackInTheBox Tue 12-Sep-17 11:14:36

I think they have open days but it couldn't hurt ringing the schools and asking?

Subtlecheese Tue 12-Sep-17 11:18:56

Can I ask how you've chosen schools without viewing them?
Don't commit to anything based on a paper summary of a school. Even the wildly inaccurate ofsted monkeys don't do that!
Don't judge a book by it's cover, never judge a school from ofsted or what "everyone" says. Please get into those schools and have a nose.

TheMogget Tue 12-Sep-17 11:21:44

I contacted our local primary and they said they are doing an open day in November. I don't think the application actions open until then.

NoWordForFluffy Tue 12-Sep-17 11:25:32

We had individual appointments with 2 schools and a group open day with a 3rd.

Email the school office and ask.

my2bundles Tue 12-Sep-17 11:30:34

I would ring and ask about open says, if they don't have them/already had them arrange a visit. I would never complete a school application before visiting the schools, how can you get a feel they are the right school by just reading about them?

WhiteCaribou Tue 12-Sep-17 11:44:17

I work in a school. We don't have open days, we are a really small school and it's never been worth it when we've tried it in the past. However, we are very happy for prospective parents to ring and make an appointment to view the school and I think you would be ill advised to choose a school before you've actually seen it "in action". What you see on a website or in an Ofsted report doesn't really tell you much about the atmosphere of a school or whether it would suit your child.

Give the schools you're interested in a call and ask them - if they are dismissive or not helpful that tells you what you need to know doesn't it?

eddiemairswife Tue 12-Sep-17 11:47:34

Closing date for applications is Jan 15 NOT Jan 18.

cjt110 Tue 12-Sep-17 11:49:52

We have chosen based on the closest ones, ofsted and will finalise with a viewing. I was worried calling them so early in the school year might be pestering.

eddiemairswife I don't understand your post?

NoWordForFluffy Tue 12-Sep-17 11:55:18

I think you're at cross purposes. You mean Jan 2018, OP, and eddie means Jan 15th 2018.

MerryMarigold Tue 12-Sep-17 11:57:01

I would call rather than email as sometimes emails go to junk mail, depends how good the school sec is!

I would also leave it another week - there is no rush with a Jan deadline.

I wouldn't base it all on a visit. My dsis is a teacher of 15 years, visited a few schools, loved one, got a job there when her dd started and realised it was one of the worst schools she's ever worked in!!! Out of anyone, she should have known, but you an go on facilities, or one good conversation or a 'feeling' or what the classrooms look like...

Personally, I went for the closest school as that's the one I was going to get if I put it first. If your closest school is quite good, but you put somewhere else first, you may not end up with either of them and only the school which has a poor ofsted.

I agree Ofsted isn't everything, and in my experience 'outstanding' means diddly as some 'good' schools may be better on the things you like such as parent/ school working together, music lessons etc. However, if it is requiring improvement, there is generally a reason for that.

cjt110 Tue 12-Sep-17 12:00:15

Thanks all. Have called the schools. Some are on a group show around basis. Others are make an individual appointment. My husband I both work full time and it will take some scheduling as they are, obviously, during school time.

MerryMarigold Tue 12-Sep-17 12:01:41

Things I would personally look for now are:

- dedicated sports' teachers (it makes a difference, especially to a child who may not seem particularly sporty as they can bring this out and get them into great habits early on).
- music provision in school (music lessons available?)
- how often do they get parents in for exhibitions, assemblies, shows etc? (Our last school was at least once a term, this school is once a year, but not even that in Y5).

Do not go on SAT scores and if they are proudly displaying them, it is likely to be a school that puts too much pressure on kids and teachers in Y6 and only 'teaches to SATs' for the whole of Y6.

cjt110 Tue 12-Sep-17 14:28:08

Good advice there Merry

Unsure how we will organise viewings. Husband and I both work fulltime and neither of us have any leave left to take.

TeenTimesTwo Tue 12-Sep-17 14:41:46

I would ask about phonics teaching and their phonics scores.
If they say anything like 'good readers often fail the phonics screening' then run a mile.
As you both work full time, have you checked their before and after school clubs out?

MerryMarigold Tue 12-Sep-17 15:53:45

Children can be taught to pass the phonics just like anything else. I'd run a mile from Ruth Miskin, but it is worth asking about how they approach reading.

HiJenny35 Tue 12-Sep-17 16:13:21

I'd run a mile from any school that bases its whole approach around phonics and there's many approaches and phonics fails many children.
Honestly I'd go on the feel of the school, the displays, the atmosphere, how approachable they seem, how happy the staff seem. I'd go less on things like individual music lessons and specialist input as honestly any schools that have these will be massively reducing their hours/getting rid of them completely as it's just not possible to find it under the new government school funding. I'd ask about how they deal with bullying, the process of settling the children in and of you need wrap around childcare breakfast club and after school club provision. If they have anyone who is forest school trained and if they could tell you some of the fun activities or visits that the school completes each year.

thismeansnothing Tue 12-Sep-17 16:14:20

Depends. When we applied for DD some had open days after school, some during school. Some it was by appointment with the head

Piratefairy78 Tue 12-Sep-17 16:19:48

Phone the schools and ask to visit. Our school doesn't do open days (300+ children). Parents want to see the school with children in it! Here we would pass you to a couple of our Year 6s who would show you around, answer any questions and then you can meet the head/ deputy afterwards. If you want to see what a schools like there's no better way than meeting some of the students in my opinion.

Looneytune253 Tue 12-Sep-17 16:25:13

Surely just base it on proximity as most admissions are now done on locations now? The closest one to you is usually the one you'll be allocated. Also, what's the point of viewing AFTER your application, surely it's pointless?

JsOtherHalf Tue 12-Sep-17 16:38:31

Given that there is a possibility that your DS might need additional support, I'd ask about how they handle children like your DS.

Also go onto Mumsnet local, change your name, and ask what experiences people have to those schools.
(Also other parenting forums.)

JsOtherHalf Tue 12-Sep-17 16:40:27

Looneytune253 Our catchment primary school is 2 miles away, DS goes to a much closer one - but not the closest.
Same for secondary schools - it's the luck of the draw if you get in if you're not in catchment.

cjt110 Wed 13-Sep-17 11:19:01

OK.

School 1. Appointments only during the day - they take a few parents around together.

School 2. Appointments only during the day.

School 3. Didnt have a clue. Asked child's age after I had said it was for a primary application then asked, was it for their nursery. I said no their primary school and she asked what days.... That is NOT a good first impression.

MerryMarigold Wed 13-Sep-17 18:22:18

cjt110 I wouldn't go solely on what the office is like. Sometimes the really amazing sec may have just popped out to do something and a midday assistant picked up, or sometimes the office is a bit rubbish, but the teachers are brilliant. It's not always a reflection of the school.

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