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school visit - what would you do

(11 Posts)
SarfEasticated Tue 14-Jun-11 18:32:23

DH and I and dd (3.5yrs) are thinking of moving to a closeish area of London with bigger cheaper houses and two schools with good ofsted reports. In order to register DD for school we will have to be moved in by January, and as this in London we will need to live really close to our chosen school.
I had thought that we would be able to go and look around the schools now so we could decide which one was best for our daughter and chose a house accordingly. However it transpires that they can't show us around until September. Meaning we won't be able to decide on a house til Sept, and then will need to have bought and moved in in 3 months.
I really don't know what to do, I don't want to pick a school purely on the ofsted/sats. We can go to their summer fair, but that's not quite the same is it.
What would you do?

swash Tue 14-Jun-11 18:33:45

Why can't they show you round? That sounds odd.

SarfEasticated Tue 14-Jun-11 18:42:58

I know! They are too busy. they say:
"I am sorry but this is a very busy term as we are in the process of moving the Nursery children to Reception and offering Nursery places to children to start in September. The Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) are also underway for pupils."

I did explain our circumstances too.

It has irrationally really put me off, but I don't want to cut my nose off to spite my face.

swash Tue 14-Jun-11 18:46:02

That is really mean. I would

hang around at dropping off/picking up time and chat to mums.

and pop into the school and ask to have a quick word with the head (have done this myself - no problem despite the stroppy office staff's reluctance to call him).

Just be smiley and a bit dim - blank those vibes from the office staff - and if the head isn't there ask for the deputy.

swash Tue 14-Jun-11 18:46:43

Oh and find out when the summer fair is and go along with your dd - I also did this.

JandT Tue 14-Jun-11 18:48:29

I would spend time in the area and see if you can speak to other parents. In my experience (of both schools and DH being a teacher) Ofsted means nothing about how good a school is, in fact in my friends' DC schools, it often means the more likely your child is to have stress problems or ridiculous amounts of homework. My DSS is now in a school with excellent ofsted though (with normal homework levels!) and very happy children which if you go to any local group you hear about from the Mum's. But, one change of headteacher or staff and that could change.

Sorry that sounds negative but I think it's much better to speak to parents than the school.

Good luck and FYI, we managed to buy and move in 3 months so although it'd be busy, it would be possible so don't worry too much (plus could you send the paperwork to prove you were going to live there?).

SarfEasticated Tue 14-Jun-11 19:00:57

Yes JandT that's my worry, I don't want DD to be hot-housed or anything like that, just want her to enjoy learning (sound like a hippy I know), so SATs aren't my priority. It is a 3 form entry school, which means it's pretty big, I really want to see that it is a friendly and nice place, and not too intimidating.
I will see what I can do about the hanging around the school - hopefully I won't get moved on!

JandT Tue 14-Jun-11 19:46:35

DS's school has 1.5 classes per year and mix two years each time which is great for us as that's what he had at his last school (although only 8 children in each year there!). I agree about enjoying learning-our school also goes to the library and in my experience they're the best place ever to find out what happens locally!

Go along to the summer fair, join a local toddler group and meet the Mum's. Almost weekly I meet a new parent from DS's school talk about how great it is.

ImNotaCelebrity Tue 14-Jun-11 22:00:02

They really can't find 15 mins for a quick tour of the school? Really? Sounds very odd to me!
I would turn up at the school office (not at drop off or pick up time, or the first hour, as they tend to be busiest then) and ask face to face. Much harder to come up with excuses when they can't just put the phone down!

SarfEasticated Tue 14-Jun-11 22:06:03

I know! Not like I expect flower girls or a choir recital. Just a quick nip round. I don't think I'm being unreasonable in asking.
It really has put me off them.

sittinginthesun Tue 14-Jun-11 22:09:00

You can pick up a lot from a school fair. I went to a PTA event at one local school when DS was a toddler - enough to put me right off. I just couldn't see myself fitting in there.

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