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Take children when visiting possible new schools?

(21 Posts)
PrettyCandles Wed 26-Jan-05 14:54:28

We have four to visit in a town about 1h+ drive from us, and we have to do them as quickly as possible. Should we take ds 4 and dd 2 with us to all of them?

doggiewalker Wed 26-Jan-05 14:59:49

Personally at that age I probably wouldn't only because they are really too young to be giving an opinion, although the 4 yr old might benefit from seeing the schools that she/he'll be attending. However, if you're looking at 4 schools she/he'll probably not remember them all anyway!

Gobbledigook Wed 26-Jan-05 15:01:27

I didn't because I knew he'd get bored and I'd struggle to listen fully or ask any questions. We had to take ds2 who was a baby at the time but ds1 was in nursery.

He's going in Sept and I've not really even broached it with him that much. Just the odd fleeting mention of big school but that's it.

KateandtheGirls Wed 26-Jan-05 15:06:26

If possible it might be ideal to visit them by yourself first, and then take your son to see the one you have chosen at a later date.

Marina Wed 26-Jan-05 15:09:58

Agree with the others here. Both of them might be kicking off by school four...Maybe narrow it down to two and then take ds, maybe leaving dd with a sitter unless you are also investigating nursery or pre-prep for her...

PrettyCandles Wed 26-Jan-05 15:12:36

Seems fairly consistent opinions here...more-or-less what I thought, too. Thanks all.

marialuisa Wed 26-Jan-05 15:14:52

Have just done this with DD (rising 4), I couldn't have imagined not taking her as it was important to me to see how she reacted to the schools and (even more importantly) how the staff reacted to her. DD also had to be assessed at one school and as we are moving 3 hours away, I wasn't prepared to make 2 trips.

We are going with the school where DD sat on the head's lap discussing screensavers, before charging off into the playground melee. Nobody batted an eyelid and they took DD's questions/demands/chatter in their stride. We did 3 schools in total BTW.

PrettyCandles Wed 26-Jan-05 15:18:33

Good point, Marialuisa. How many schools did you see on the one trip?

marialuisa Wed 26-Jan-05 15:43:42

Sorry, 3 schools on one trip but spread over 2 days. We were at each school for about 90 mins. We had initially booked to visit 6 but were able to discount 3 for logistical reasons.

Should add that DD appears to have taken the news about moving in her stride (she does 8-4.30 at curent school and is in her 5th term there)but I guess if she was more upset by the move I may have been a bit wary about taking her.

Azure Wed 26-Jan-05 16:47:12

Oh dear, I didn't even think about taking DS around when visiting schools. TBH, there were almost no children accompanying parents on the visits we made, and the children who were there were younger siblings. The visits we were on were quite big tours and I think it would have been really distracting for DS to have been there - I don't think I would have been able to concentrate on what the head (or whoever) was saying. I wouldn't take the children if possible, especially if you are fitting in four visits - their attention span just will not stretch that far. Just my opinion.

Sponge Wed 26-Jan-05 17:10:16

I would visit them myself and narrow down the options based on your judgement. Then if you're undecided you might take ds and see which he prefers. In our case dd had to go to assessments so she visited the shortlist of 2 anyway but I wouldn't take them for the first look around.

PrettyCandles Thu 27-Jan-05 13:37:32

It's a bit of a dilemma for us, as in order for both dh and me to visit the schools together, we would have to find babysitting for ds and dd. Our babysittters are my parents, but unfortunately df has caught chickenpox from dd. She'll be over it but df may not be.

sandyballs Thu 27-Jan-05 13:56:30

NO! We did and our DDs had a big fight about who was going to sit in the headmasters swinging chair. It was awful and I'm sure he now has a big A4 note on his desk with their names on and a big cross next to it for when our applications arrive!!

PrettyCandles Thu 27-Jan-05 14:00:57

LOL! A good opportunity for the headmaster to shine tho - did he impress you with his handling of the situation?

sandyballs Thu 27-Jan-05 14:20:38

I was very impressed with him PrettyCandles - he took it in his stride, apologised to us for offering them the seat in the first place and emphasised that he was also a father as well as a headmaster!

He'll probably still turn down our application though

PrettyCandles Thu 27-Jan-05 14:26:52

Or maybe he wants spirited children with buckets of personality and character in his school?

Actually, I have very little idea what we're to look for on the visits. I've been making appointments and the staff talk about 45m being long enough. Long enough for a tour and a chat, maybe, but what about just sitting and observing? At each of the nurseries I looked at for ds I spent at least 30m, probably more like 1h, just sitting and watching, after the teacher finished the tour and chat. The biggest influences on me were the childrens' behaviour and interaction with the staff. Am I to forego that when choosing a school for my children?

marialuisa Thu 27-Jan-05 14:50:50

PC-do you know if it'll be just your family or is it some mass gathering? TBH, we've only ever been on individual visits (did it for 7 schools where we are now!) and they expected DD to be there. I've no experience of the sort of "herd visit" described by Azure (and if that was all a school could offer I'd be tempted not to bother), but then i'm not in the south-east!

We looked at the loos, playground etc. I also wanted to know how much then youngest and oldest kids mixed. We feel that the relationships older pupils have with the younger pupils is a real strength of her current school and were quite put off a school where the head was horrified when we asked about little ones being "looked after" by older ones. Ultimately though it was a gut thing, the school we have recently chosen isn't the "common-sense" choice, but it just felt so right for DD.

PrettyCandles Thu 27-Jan-05 15:02:24

Only one of the four is a 'herd'. It's the highest-rated school academically, but I can't say that I felt the person I spoke to on the telephone to be terribly welcoming - unlike at all the other schools.

Good point about older and younger pupils. I'd forgotten that at my primary school the oldest class took some responsiblity for the younger children at times - being 'table monitor' at lunchtime and responsible for the behaviour of 6 or 8 younger children, for example. A very good thing, I think.

lunavix Thu 27-Jan-05 15:07:52

Tbh 'herd' visits really put me off. I have no experience of schools, but when we were looking at nurserys for ds, we asked one if we could come in and visit. The person (no idea who, never even gave her name) said "We have an open day next saturday" so I said "If we come to that can we also have a look around the nursery another day "we have a group visit in a fortnight"

Didn't even bother going.

Azure Thu 27-Jan-05 15:21:20

Yep, I've only been on herd visits - I've never been given another option for the six schools I've visited (state and private). Maybe it's a London thing. The smallest tour was around 15 parents, the largest over 50 (this was for a new school not yet open). I've always made sure I've asked as many questions as possible, including the location of the loos. I envy those of you who've been able to have a more individual experience. Having said that, I feel I've seen and heard enough to make a decent judgement on the schools. As marialuisa says, it's a gut feeling ultimately.

pixel Thu 27-Jan-05 17:33:06

We had planned for dd to go to the local church school as a/ it was closest to us, b/ she was already at their playgroup and c/it has a fantastic reputation. However, when we took her to look round she was very quiet and hung on to my hand. By contrast, when we took her to visit the state school which was a bit further away, she happily joined a reception class whilst the headmistress showed us round. When we got back she was proudly wearing a sticker for reading so well to the teacher and cried because she didn't want to go home! Guess which school we chose? Dd is now in year 4 and still loves school.

To be fair, I may be more sensitive to this because I had a miserable time at infants school and I know my mum suffered as well to see me so unhappy. To me, Dd enjoying school was the MOST important thing so it was natural to want to see how she reacted to the different schools before making a decision.

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