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Another open day - strange atmosphere

(20 Posts)
rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 10:49:57

I’ve been round two other schools with DS1 and he loved the second school (not our local school but still a decent chance of getting in).

We’ve just been round another school and it left us both a bit flat (not sure if that’s a good reason not to put it as one of our choices) although it seems well regarded by many.

The HT showed us round,it seemed quite cramped for the number of pupils and the early years seemed a bit tired and tatty.Its 45 intake for reception and though they are taught in small groups at varying times during the day the HT said they are mainly kept together. The reception outdoor play area looked a bit scruffy.

HT was friendly enough but didn’t ask if I had any questions at the end of the tour instead he asked DSwhat he thought of the school.DS was very quiet the whole time and said nothing!It seemed pretty clear after that that the HT wanted to get on with other things.

I forgot to ask about the after school club and I had a couple of other questions too.

My overall impression was that the school was quite small for the 280 pupils there,DS seemed a bit quiet.I asked him what he thought and he didn’t say anything,he said it was ok.I have to say I felt very much the same,it was all ok but I felt a bit flat after the experience.

It’s our local school so really should be one of our choices,dh thinks it should be but I don’t get a good feeling from the place.Is that a valid reason for not choosing a school?

BowlingShoes Mon 13-Nov-17 10:56:07

I would put it down if it is your closest school, especially if schools tend to be oversubscribed in your area - you don't want to risk being offered a place miles away - but put the schools you prefer as higher preferences.

venys Mon 13-Nov-17 11:02:14

It's tricky because I don't think you can get a real feel of the school in a tour. Half the time the people giving the tour aren't the ones actually doing the teaching, you don't know what is being taught and how it's being taught, and you won't know the other kids there in advance. And to be fair I am not too sure a 4 year old could really tell you in advance if it's a good school. I had reservations about the one DS2 was going to - but we had to pick it for logistics. It turned out it was lovely. If other parents rate it, then it must be good. Space is always an issue for our kids - at least in Greater London it is. But they seem to cope.

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 11:06:12

Yes i have to say that the fact we could walk there is a big advantage,it’s about 15 minutes on foot.The parking outside the school is horrendous so at least we wouldn’t have to deal with that!

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 11:12:52

I don’t know why I feel so uneasy about the place.

MiaowTheCat Mon 13-Nov-17 11:34:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 11:50:52

Thanks Miaow,it’s a strange feeling I had about the place.Dh thinks I’m crazy because it’s our closest option but happiness is very important!The early years seemed like the poor cousin of the school,a small facility at the back of the school with a tired play area.As you said the tired part is probably down to the use of the toys and equipment by lots of children,it did seem a bit run down.

MiaowTheCat Mon 13-Nov-17 11:59:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 12:23:06

The HT at your dc old school sounds awful!

I got the impression that ks2 was favoured,the classrooms were in the main part of the school and looked well kept.Early Years is in a mobile and the play area has a couple of dilapidated old mobiles nearby whic are going to be demolished according to HT.

The Early years is requiring improvements according to Ofsted whilst the rest of the school is rated good.Early years was the last part of the HT tour which I found again a bit odd as with our other tours we went straight to reception.

venys Mon 13-Nov-17 12:38:41

Just one thing though. Do you know if there is building works in the pipeline to freshen things up?

RedSkyAtNight Mon 13-Nov-17 12:41:49

I wouldn't give any weight at all to what your DS thought. Too young at age 4.
Many quite excellent schools look "scruffy" - it's easy to be seduced by great facilities, but it's what sits underneath them that is important.

If Early Years are requiring improvement then you need to ask the school what they are doing to improve - I expect their answer will be illuminating.

My personal view at primary level is that being at the local school has so many intangible benefits that I'd have to massively prefer another school or have serious worries, not to be putting it as first choice.

If you know other people with DC at the school have you asked them for their opinion?

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 13:00:40

I’ve got two friends whose dc go there and have no problems and seem happy there.

Another friend of mine sent her dc to a different school because she felt the school was scruffy and heard that the behaviour was bad at the school.

The more I go to different schools I realise that it’s more about the personality of the child that matters and how it fits with the school.

MiaowTheCat Mon 13-Nov-17 13:03:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RedSkyAtNight Mon 13-Nov-17 13:14:47

So do your friends whose DC go there have DC who are similar to your DS?

I would ignore the "heard the behaviour was bad there" unless it originates from someone who has had a DC at the school in the last few years. People are very quick to rubbish schools they know nothing about.

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 16:01:09

My friends dcs are great kids and very similar to my ds.i totally agree about the hearsay on bad behaviour,I’d rather go with the advice of people whose dcs are at the school than rumours,strange how rumours play on your mind though when making these decisions!

I phoned the school ds really likes but is slightly further away from us,they have a 35 intake and 14 siblings for next year.My gut is saying take a chance and make it first choice and have the local school as a second choice.

The local school has had a good ofsted since it’s last intake so I’m hoping that it won’t be oversubscribed for the first time.

Dh wants to have the local school as a first choice,he likes the idea of walking to school and having friends close by.

Paddington68 Mon 13-Nov-17 16:07:18

Go to their Christmas Bazaar/Fayre or nativity performance. It will give you a better idea of the school

Davespecifico Mon 13-Nov-17 16:12:48

It’s jmportant to have a lovely nurturing early years setting I think. DD’s School unfortunately mixed reception and nursery for the time she was there. It was a noisy dirty mess and DD at 3.5 was pretttmuch thrown into school rather than nursery.
I still worry that for a sensitive child this was an unlucky start.
You want kind nurturing teachers, plenty of outdoor space and activities and a clearly delineated calm and warm indoor environment.

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 16:22:05


I agree about the nurturing environment,ds went to a preschool which mixed nursery and reception.It was awful and ds hated it,he no longer goes and still has bad dreams about.

tiggytape Mon 13-Nov-17 18:27:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rcat Mon 13-Nov-17 20:25:55


It’s a good point,the school that I like which is further away is oversubscribed usually and it would be a gamble to get in.The last few years they have allocated quite far out from their area so there is a good chance.

The local school is looking more appealing as I’m considering now the travelling time to school in the morning especially with having to consider DS2 who is 18 months.

I think it’s the HT who put me off our local school,he didn’t seem very interested in us on the tour.It was a bit intimidating to start in the HT office with DS1 who was overwhelmed.

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