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Viewed a school today

(28 Posts)
troisgarcons Tue 11-Oct-11 15:47:48

Most over subscribed non-selective in the area.

Just didn't get 'the vibe'.

I found it really odd we were herded round in groups with a deputy head, not allowed anywhere near children, unable to observe classes; three teachers pulled out of classes to talk to the group of us in the corridor.

Display work lifted from the internet and laminated.

At lesson change we were shuttled off to the edge of the playground ostensibly to look at the expansive sports field.

I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would send their child there, let alone 700 boys clamouring for 210 places. Utterly puzzled. it was almost like they were hiding something. The devil bit me and I asked about disabled access and was told 'we don't have those children, last one we had was 7 years ago' . Thoroughly bizarre experience.

Another parents said to me 'Isn't it me thats supposed to be chosing a school for my child - they make me feel like they are vetting me'.

ragged Tue 11-Oct-11 18:29:35

Depends how bad the other schools are, I guess!
Let me guess, high GCSE pass rate stats?

CustardCake Tue 11-Oct-11 18:54:41

Wow - alarm bells ringing all the way. As ragged said though, perhaps the oversubscription is due to a particularly dire local alternative rather than to this school's own offerings?
It is very telling that they don't want you to observe children at work or between lessons. I am appalled at their response to the accessibility question you raised. What happens if, God forbid, someone becomes disabled or is diagnosed with additional needs between the ages of 11 and 18 – do they kick them out?

hocuspontas Tue 11-Oct-11 19:06:36

Isn't it unusual to look around a school (in groups) during the school day? All our schools are open evenings. I'm not surprised that you couldn't observe lessons I would have thought that would be intrusive and disruptive. You were shuttled off to the playground at lesson change so you wouldn't be crushed I would have thought!

Agree about weird disabled comment though. Did he think you said something like 'disruptive element' maybe? Is this a private school? I have heard this comment in a private school before sad

slavetofilofax Tue 11-Oct-11 19:08:31

If someone became disabled, or a disabled person got in, then the school would just have to suck it up and make the right provisions.

I am involved with a group that regularly hires a pool in a private school, and many of our members are disabled. We make do with our own mobile hoist and mobile ramps, but the bursar there has openly admitted that he dreads a physically disabled pupil joining the school because of the cost that would be involved in accomodating them. hmm We are trying to change his thining.

Troisgarcons, look on the bright side, at least you can cross that school of your list of choices, and maybe the descision will become easier.

CustardCake Tue 11-Oct-11 19:16:58

slavetofilofax - I agree with you. What I meant by my comment was that it is a weird thing for a school to boast about ie they seem proud of the fact that they haven't had to accommodate any disabled children for over 7 years.
What a ridiculous thing to say to a parent and how on earth does that make children feel at school should they ever, God forbid, have an accident or be hurt? I think it is a very weird comment to make and an alarming one and I also don't see why it is anything to be proud of (as the Deputy Head seemed to imply it was)

slavetofilofax Tue 11-Oct-11 19:29:48

Absolutely, it's a horrific thing for a teacher to say, and it makes you wonder about the schools attitude to other things. Does anyone that doesn't conform get made to feel like an inconvenience?

I wonder if they have their subtle ways of putting off any prospective parents of disabled children, and that's why they haven't had any.

sad for the children that are already there, but at least the parents that were there today have the chance to avoid it.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Oct-11 20:32:44

then the school would just have to suck it up and make the right provisions.

But what if this just isn't feasible? My school can't take children in wheelchairs so they have to go elsewhere in the area. There is no way that access could be provided. They looked into wheelchair access into some classrooms for a parent and the length of the ramp that would be needed to get around some steps was longer than the length of the corridor.

If a student at our school ended up needing a wheelchair permanently, I think they'd have to leave the school.

The school in the OP sounds like it has something to hide though. Parents at my school are shown around by students.

admission Tue 11-Oct-11 20:51:58

I am afraid that the original post has so many red flags in it that I would never consider this school for my children.
This is a school that is coasting it way through time and at some stage in the future it is going to crash to earth as their "superior" attitude comes home to roost and parents vote with their feet. The school needs to begin to understand that the customer is the potential pupils and parents and they are not doing them a favour by letting them in their "nice" school.

bruffin Tue 11-Oct-11 21:38:03

Most schools in our area do daytime tours as well as open evenings.
One school only had prefects at their open evening, which I thought was really worrying.

bruffin Tue 11-Oct-11 21:39:06

Most schools in our area do daytime tours as well as open evenings.
One school only had prefects at their open evening, which I thought was really worrying.

teacherwith2kids Tue 11-Oct-11 21:43:46

Hocuspontas,

Most oversubscribed comprehensive in our area has 3 ways of looking round the school...no, actually 4:
- Open evening
- 'Open school' mornings during the same week - school open, with lessons going on, for parents and children to wander round.
- 'Standard' visits during school mornings - deputy head takes round parents in small groups.
- 'Special' visits with the deputy head for those of us awkward enough to work every morning of the week (that'll be me...)

In my - solo, lengthy - visit, the deputy head showed me into classes where lessons were going on, positively encouraged me to chat with children about what they were doing, accosted children in the corridor to get me to talk to them about their school life, introduced me to a couple of members of staff who had non-contact time so were available to talk ... and then was quite happy to release me right at the end of the day, into what could be the riot of dismissal but in act was a very orderly, calm process of dispersal of students...

he also stood me in front of displays about attendance, handed in work for GCSEs. children's progress towards targets etc etc - all those 'warts and all' things

hocuspontas Tue 11-Oct-11 22:09:11

I'm amazed at so many daytime visits! I'm glad my children's lessons aren't interrupted by the 600 parents that turn up to open evenings. I know not everyone will want a tour but potentially that's a lot of disruption. And as the op says, teachers are pulled out of lessons to talk to parents. shock I suppose it must work...

troisgarcons Tue 11-Oct-11 22:28:54

No - I've visited 5 schools, I work in another and I've worked in a further two.

It was an utterly bizarre experience.

All our (Bexley) schools have open days - this is the only one where the children are kept away from the visitors. All the other schools I've visited throw you to the children grin to be taken round in smaller groups.

Following on from the 'disabled access comment' - I asked about SEN support for autism and was told 'Well, if you are refering to the banded entry tests, it's a flat test with no provision for needy children'. I said 'my son is autistic, notneedy and she said 'we have a good dyslexia suite' ... I said 'he's autistic, not dyslexic'.

Bizarre.

crazymum53 Wed 12-Oct-11 09:36:54

We had a similar experience looking round a very oversubscribed school at an Open evening where NO children from the school were present and this put us off. At every other school we visited we were shown round by PUPILS not by the teachers. My dds secondary school does have 3 Open mornings and one Open Evening and prospective parents are shown round by Y8 pupils.
Am not sure if schools that have an entry test and so-called "fair banding" are really non-selective as many families would be put off by the concept of taking a test.
I would also be wary that the SENCO seemed so unaware of autism. I would have expected someone with this role to have at least a basic awareness and I would be reluctant to send any child to a school that had so little support or recognition for a fairly well-recognised medical condition.
Check the OFSTED report for this school some schools with a banding system seem to have much lower numbers of children with SEN than expected nationally and this is why they achieve such good exam results.

ragged Wed 12-Oct-11 10:06:08

Gawd, how awful, about 5 red flags there in 3G's anecdote of autistic/dyslexic confusion. Is this an academy, 3Garcons?

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 12-Oct-11 10:22:16

The super-selective grammars in our area have that kind of attitude.

One open evening a year which is completely mobbed. A friend attended and asked if there were any other opportunities to view the school. "Next year's open evening" was the curt reply.

The school has a very arrogant "we are fantastic and we don't care what you think of us as there are 10 families chasing every place".

DD is very bright (top in her class for most things) but crossed them off our list immediately and DD now at the super girls comp which is a short walk away. Loves it, in classes with lots of bright girls whose parents reached a similar conclusion. The school puts a lot of effort into providing a range of opportunities for all pupils and does it much better than the grammar in my opinion.

Always, always steer clear of any school which gives you the impression that they would be doing you a favour by taking your child, no matter how in demand they are locally or how good their results look on paper.

Miggsie Wed 12-Oct-11 10:30:02

We found this, when we went round "the" school in the area that people fight over to get in their attitude was "how high are you going to jump to get your child in here then?"
Also, I'm disabled and they treated me like shit, the head teacher actually made a speech at the end about how he didn't like people sitting down in his presence and the other parents were even looking round embarrassed at that point. I suppose he assumed that if I was disabled my child must be.

DH was fuming when we got out and so was I.

They were also sexist, but by then we had decided it was Bigot Central and crossed it off our list.

We sent DD to a school where the teachers spoke to her as we went round and where the students showed us the school and raved about how they loved the maths teacher.

mummytime Wed 12-Oct-11 11:22:27

DCs school is a very over subscribed Comp. It has a parents talk, but also one day of (madness) tours, where parents and kids are grouped into about 20s, to be taken around the school by a memer of staff and a couple of sixth formers (other senior pupils), you get a chance to peak in lessons etc. They do try to get you off the corridors by change over, but that is pure crowd control.
You can also go on a tour one day a week for most of the year, which is up to about 10 with one of the heads.
But the same is roughly true of most schools around here. One has a policy of always having doors open, and various people pop into lessons all the time, its not that disruptive as it is so normal (helps with OFSTED).

choccyp1g Wed 12-Oct-11 11:39:53

I was shown round our local comprehensive by the deputy head. The group was small enough for us to stand at the back of lessons, and the classes had been primed to expect a few visitors, so the teachers just acknowledged us and carried on as normal. Where the children were working independently we could ask them questions, they were all polite and helpful.
It was obvious that they had picked certain classes to be observed at different times, it's a big school, so each class of children were probably only visited once or twice over a week.
We were in the corridor while lesson changeover took place, it was in fact quite orderly. Much better than I remember at my old school.

Needmoresleep Wed 12-Oct-11 13:16:26

How about this, three years ago.

Daughter was allocated a school some way away and not on her list of preferences. I emailed school to ask if we could look around, as I felt it important to at least look before forming an opinion. We were told that there was no provision to look around. Instead my daughter would be able to see the school on the induction day for new pupils in June.

However and almost immediately the school sent a pupil contract, effectively asking my daughter to confirm that she would not ring drugs, knives or guns into the school.

We did not accept the place and decided to pay, as it was unlikely that we would be offered anything else, our nearest school being CoE and really sought after. However I cannot understand why a school would not encourage parents to look at a school that they were sending their child to for the next seven years. It is even odder that they were not giving future pupils a chance to see the school they were due to attend. Given the huge demand for places for other schools within our Local Authority I assume we were not the only ones to be allocated this one.

Not surprisingly it turned out that this school had a dodgy reputation (it was too far for us to have even heard of it before - my daughter would have needed to take no less than three buses to get there). At the same time I hear that the sought after schools can be quite snooty and talk more about their criteria rather than what a school has to offer.

CustardCake Wed 12-Oct-11 14:11:15

Carrots - we don't have a daughter that age but our friends reported the same from a local girls' grammar. It has 12 or 13 pupils applying for each place but even so they found the Head's speech a little bit off putting. Almost every sentence started with "if you daughter is lucky enough to gain a place...."

I guess statistically speaking that is true - there is some degree of luck because not all of those who pass the 11+ will get offered a place but, at the same time, it rather gives the impression that the school view the selection process as entirely one-way without considering that they also are lucky to attract some very bright girls.

mattellie Wed 12-Oct-11 16:08:12

“Always, always steer clear of any school which gives you the impression that they would be doing you a favour by taking your child”

God yes, couldn’t agree more Carrots. Our local selective girls school has an HT who kept telling us this sort of thing at open day. Someone asked about school trips and the reply was ‘if you want to be the best of the best, there isn’t time to have fun’. We found it all deeply unpleasant and crossed it off the list immediately.

As for the disabled comment, I for one think that is just offensive, and wouldn’t want my children taught by a teacher who even thought this, let alone said it!

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 12-Oct-11 18:20:21

Sounds like a concentration camp, matellie!

These schools seem to operate on the Emperor's New Clothes principle.

Once parents realise what is behind their arrogant front they will be in trouble.

seeker Wed 12-Oct-11 18:24:46

Of course you need to observe lessons going on- how can you possibly make q judgement otherwise?

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