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viewing primaries when you work

(27 Posts)
fluffymouse Wed 26-Nov-14 00:39:06

I work more than full time in a job involving shifts, and have yet to be given my rota for next month. When I've been calling primaries to view them they have been telling me that they have only one set day a month, which books up a long time in advance. How do working parents manage? My job is not in any way flexible.

noramum Wed 26-Nov-14 06:32:42

We took annual leave. Luckily all primaries on our area had several days though.

I must say, I found starting school hard in general, lots of days where the school expect parents to come for various events, often at 2pm which for me would mean a full day off as my commute is over 1 hour.

Luckily they gave plenty of notice.

So be prepared to have a decent chunk of leave unplanned.

fluffymouse Wed 26-Nov-14 09:37:45

I've taken annual leave this week with the intention of viewing schools but they have all said no as it is not a set day. I cant book leave for next month now sad

PastSellByDate Wed 26-Nov-14 10:58:09


In terms of viewing schools - other options include going along to their Christmas fairs. (Chance to see actual children not performing for prospective parents/ chance to talk to parents at the school).

Talk to parents who have children there you might know - or just stop them in the street if you see them (I had a very useful chat to someone in the park - more informative than school open day).

Do you know people considering these schools for their own children? If they're going along to these open day events - perhaps they can get materials/ information for you and also let you know their impressions.

Frankly - having been through this all - open days area 'stage show' where a school is putting their best foot forward and largely just verbally repeat what is in the prospectus. Often you see very little of the school or an ordinary school day.

So - it may be better to understand:

How YR starts - Day 1 full day/ 3 weeks of half-days then full-time/ 3 months of part-time.....

Do they accommodate working parents - offering to hold alternate parent/ teacher meetings if the planned dates don't suit shift workers?

Do they offer more than one date or working hour friendly timings for key events: Christmas production/ plays/ assemblies/ etc...


TimeForAnotherNameChange Wed 26-Nov-14 11:33:46

I'd also second speaking to a parent in the park - you'll get vastly more accurate and uncensored views that way than trudging round a sterile prepared tour!

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Wed 26-Nov-14 11:40:38

We have been to view what will hopefully be DD's school this week. I was lucky, the set 'tour' was on a day I don't work. DH had to take annual leave.

We have only viewed one school though as our 2nd choice is the school both DSs went to (so we know it well).

Here we only get 3 choices but neither our 1st (village school) nor 2nd choice (15 minutes away) have ever been oversubscribed, so we feel confident in only selecting the 2.

MillionPramMiles Wed 26-Nov-14 11:58:05

I sympathise, it's been a struggle to get a place on open days round our way.
One suggestion I'd make is consider if you'll need after school/breakfast clubs. Not all schools offer these and that's certainly whittled the list down for us.

sanam2010 Wed 26-Nov-14 12:01:23

just book yourself in for now and when you find out you can't make it, shift it to the next appointment. also see if your boss can understand (though I guess they can't given you ask this question here). I really disagree that playground talk is more relevant than visiting the school - it can be if you know the people very well, but it's always personal and people have all sorts of different opinions on the same places, so you really need to see for yourself.

dannydyerismydad Wed 26-Nov-14 12:03:32

DH works from home on Wednesdays. All the local schools hold tours on days other than Wednesdays.

I emailed the schools explaining that it was really important for us to view our local school as we wanted to play a very active role in DS's education. Only the very oversubscribed school that we have little chance of getting in to refused to make an exception.

cjm10979 Wed 26-Nov-14 12:56:10

I only went to view our 1st choice school as I work and don't have the time to take off. Based on what happened to a colleague last year who was allocated their second choice she was able to be shown around in April shortly after the allocations are published. Our first choice is a church school and if we don't get this, it's unlikely that we will get any of the other 3 choices because there are not enough school places in our area. I know of the local undersubscribed school we would be allocated and would only want to visit that one if it became an absolute necessity.

Use the stats from the council website to find the school that you are most likely to get into, in reality this may be the only real 'choice' you have. Non first choice schools can be viewed after allocation day in April/May. Use Ofsted/ other parents to get a feel + the council applications data to work out the popular/ unpopular schools.

TimeForAnotherNameChange Wed 26-Nov-14 13:13:18

I should add that we didn't go and see any primaries - due to the catchment/oversubscription issues in my area there is actually no choice whatsoever; you get what you're given depending on where you live, and that's that. (It's slightly different for high schools but not by much - there are only two and one is grossly oversubscribed, and they each have a quite different ethos).

girliefriend Wed 26-Nov-14 13:19:34

Agree with above poster who said you probably won't get much 'choice' on your preferred school anyway! I put down 3 choices and was given none of them, dd is at the local primary which I had been a bit snobby about but actually is a good school.

However it is a good idea to look around a few so I would ring and explain your situation and ask if they would allow you to look round separately. I did this as couldn't always make the open days and most of the schools were fine about it.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Nov-14 13:28:53

Hello OP

honestly you are not missing anything by not visiting schools, with ds1 I did them all locally and there wasn't much difference between the lot.
You can tell a lot from their website and talking to parents with dc already there.
By the time it came to ds2 and then dd I knew as much about the local schools as the HTs themselves grin

sunnyrosegarden Wed 26-Nov-14 14:07:56

I had to take annual leave for two primaries. The school dcs ended up at just asked me when would be convenient! I think a school's attitude says a lot about the school as a whole.

lljkk Wed 26-Nov-14 14:31:00

sorry, did you take annual leave just assuming you could view this week, without having booked any appointments for viewing before you booked the leave? Was there no other way to book leave?

What about unpaid leave, could you still book some of that (after you've confirmed viewing appointments?)

It sounds a pain but that's what having kids is like. Frightfully inconvenient little Beggars.

TravelinColour Wed 26-Nov-14 14:33:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bearwithspecs Wed 26-Nov-14 16:25:52

I did one 2 open mornings and 2 by appt just to compare etc I hated one outstanding school. How valuable it is depends on whether you have realistic choices anyway. If we hadn't got in no1 we would have defo got in no2 and 4. 3 was an outside chance. so it helped me decide the order

fluffymouse Wed 26-Nov-14 18:41:01

Over here the schools are very much divided into popular vs unpopular. Our local community school is our first choice, but we are quite likely not to get it aand need to put down 5 other choices. I'm looking at the undersubscribed ones for these where we do have a chance.

Work is a pain, but the nature of my job isn't flexible. I am taking annual leave this week as I have to or will lose. Very little choice when I take it.

Unpaid leave sadly not an option.

I will try tracking some parents down.

Ironically its the unpopular schools which are difficult to view. The hugely oversubscribed local primary was happy to make an appointment.

cloudjumper Wed 26-Nov-14 18:47:44

We have not visited any schools for that exact same reason, we both work full time and have no annual leave left to take. I spoke to friends who had done the visits and, more importantly, parents who already have children at the schools we are considering, which has been very helpful.

spanieleyes Wed 26-Nov-14 19:27:11

We always have an open evening (6-8) for parents to come along to and have a chat with the Head, senior staff, governors and children ( the year 5/6 children volunteer to come in and act as guides) and an open day in the Autumn term. If you can't make either of these you simply phone the office and, within reason, make an appointment to suit, either during the school day or afterwards. Obviously the Head may not be available at all times-they are busy people-but someone will show you round and talk about the schoo. The Reception teacher will be teaching so might be able to answer a few questions in passing but can't have a detailed conversation with 30 littlies scurrying around!
The difficulty is, when schools know that they will be full, there is little incentive to do more than the minimum!

fluffymouse Wed 26-Nov-14 19:58:37

Spaniel that sounds like a very accommodating school. I wish they were like that round here.

I guess it is London, and even the unpopular schools fill up, so maybe they just don't care.

Iggly Wed 26-Nov-14 20:02:12

What is your job such that you cannot take leave at short notice!?

You'll have yo rethink for school - I work four days but it's a pain with short notice school stuff. Luckily my employer usually treats us like adults and we can book leave with as little notice as necessary provided we can clear our diaries.

fluffymouse Wed 26-Nov-14 20:06:45

Iggly I work as a doctor. Our leave is usually fixed due to service needs and being generally under staffed. You can imagine that the nature of the job means that it is not flexible.

Iggly Wed 26-Nov-14 20:10:23

Ah OK but what about emergencies?

I would ask your schools for other visits - mine let me have a look when I couldn't make a tour.

pyrrah Wed 26-Nov-14 23:13:26

fluffymouse - if the school you get suggests something ridiculous along the lines of half-days for first 3 weeks/months etc, you are now legally entitled to tell the school that your child will start full-time on the first day of term. They have to work with that.

Never have understood why schools do it. All the schools round here (mostly 2 form entry) start full-time on the first day of the Autumn term.

If you have a choice, then a school with a breakfast/after-school club might be a good option for your first preference. A lot of schools will reserve the late parents-evening slots for working parents. Unfortunately there's not much that can be done with trips/assemblies/other.

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