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Open Days in Year 5?

(26 Posts)
Insidevoice Fri 02-Sep-16 11:13:37

Would it be considered strange to do the rounds of the secondary school open days in Year 5 (so this term for entry in 2018)? On paper our options look terrible, but we learnt during the primary school application process that the 'best' school isn't always the right one. We have talked about moving house (and therefore catchment area) but we'd need to start thinking about that a lot earlier than September 2017 so if we really do have no other option I'd like to know now. Are secondary schools used to year 5 pupils turning up to open days or will we feel like we are gate crashing?

bigTillyMint Fri 02-Sep-16 11:18:41

I visited a few on my own in Y5 - reassured me that there were lots of options. Quite a lot of parents do this round here.

We took DD in Y6, which was soon enough for her!

Princessdebthe1st Fri 02-Sep-16 11:19:01

We did this last year and found it was relatively common. As you say finding out you don't want any of your local schools only a month before the application is a bit late to do anything about it. But I also found it really helpful to clarify the questions I needed to ask and what my priorities were for doing it for "real" this year.

PatriciaHolm Fri 02-Sep-16 11:32:52

Totally normal!

Insidevoice Fri 02-Sep-16 11:34:26

Thanks that's really helpful - so perhaps do the rounds without ds this time (he has no actual interest at this point anyway).

Princess Deb can I ask what questions you found useful? My main concern is will ds be happy here but I think I need to tease that out a bit more!

Leeds2 Fri 02-Sep-16 12:14:53

Another one who went in Year 5 without DC, and then in Year 6 with them.

MoonfaceAndSilky Fri 02-Sep-16 16:44:48

I think it is essential to do it in year 5, year 6 is too late and doesn't give you much time before you have to apply.

MrsMargeSimpson Fri 02-Sep-16 16:49:51

We pretty much have to, applications have to be in by the October of year 6 (e.g a month after they start their final year of primary) so if we want to get a true feel of the schools we need to go in year 5!

sunnydayinmay Fri 02-Sep-16 18:37:33

Everyone does it around here, especially for eldest child. I took ds1 in year 5, and he had a fairly good idea straight away (interestingly, not the most popular/academic school)/

TeenAndTween Fri 02-Sep-16 18:49:25

We looked without DDs in y5, then took them to our favourite in y6.

Things to consider depending on what interests you:

- how is pastoral care managed
- how do parents contact form tutor / teachers
- SEN provision
- general ethos (pushy, laid back, all about results, sporty)

- actual and trend in results at GCSE
- what MFLs offered and when
- who gets the chance to do triple science and can it be done at standard pace or accelerated
- when and how do they set/stream
- homework ethos (how much, what type)
- what do the most academic children achieve
- what options are there for the less academic children
- what is (currently) compulsory for GCSE (e.g. some schools mandate RE or PE or a Tech subject)

- extracurricular (music, drama, sport etc)
- trips offered (and do they actually run / are there long waiting lists)

HPFA Fri 02-Sep-16 19:49:22

The Head of DD's school actually welcomed parents "of Year 5s and Year 6s" in her speech so I think its very normal. Try and go to an Open morning while the school is operational. Even if you suspect you're being taken to the best classes you can get a good idea from the behaviour in the corridors.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 02-Sep-16 20:08:48

We welcome parents that want to look around the school in year 5 and have days aimed at the pupils. (science, tech etc.)

RedHelenB Sat 03-Sep-16 15:21:38

Sometimes open evenings happen on the same night so I am taking ds to one possibility in Y5 in case there is a clash in Y6.

oklumberjack Sat 03-Sep-16 15:34:34

I visited one secondary on my own in Y5. It was a school I was quietly thinking about my my dd (it was a different LEA). I just the open morning to look around, meet the headmaster, see some of the school and meet some pupils.
I found it was fairly common. Lots of parents like to plan ahead.
I visited again with Dd when she started Y6.

My dd is started said school on Monday!

oklumberjack Sat 03-Sep-16 15:35:26

RedHelen makes a good point. I found there were a few open evening clashes when we reached Y6.

Brokenbiscuit Sat 03-Sep-16 16:42:35

It's generally expected round here that kids will go to look at school in year 5 - I don't know anyone who didn't! I do know a few families who started looking even earlier, e.g around year 4.

As other have said, we found there were clashes for the open days in year 6, so was glad we hadn't left it. Also, with choices needing to be in by October, it just doesn't give you much thinking time if you start too late.

The secondary schools won't bat an eyelid. Our local secondary schools all start doing transition work in the primary schools from the beginning of year 5 in any case.

NynaevesSister Sat 03-Sep-16 17:41:41

Absolutely. I went on my own in year 5 but I know parents who did this even earlier. Glad that I did as it was a lot to take in and get my head around. It was also good to look at the schools without son there. It meant I could really focus on the school. Then in Year 6 I could help son around - it didn't feel so overwhelming for me.

All the questions as above. Also you usually have pupils guide you too. I asked them what the toilets were like - clean? Graffiti? I also asked them what they thought of the lunch system and the food, and how the school handled bullying and disruptive behaviour in class.

In addition I asked about lockers - some don't have them, some have them but not enough for all pupils etc.

bojorojo Sat 03-Sep-16 19:47:36

As the 11 plus is taken in September here you do need to know what schools you are aiming at before Y6. Having said that, open days were ludicrously busy so of limited value in my opinion.

lacebell10 Sun 04-Sep-16 20:11:47

Yes....round us they always clash so it's the only way to see them all. It also gives you the insight of if grammar exams are necessary. We felt the local state school had better facilities and nicer students showing us round than the local girls state grammar so didnt put dd through their exam.

iseenodust Mon 05-Sep-16 11:02:29

Definitely go and look now. I paid a lot of attention to how the pupils showing us round answered questions/talked about their school. Also I was surprised in one school by how poor the displays of pupil work were. If your DS is sporty/musical see how much is timetabled/what clubs are on offer.

Insidevoice Mon 05-Sep-16 18:48:40

Thanks to everyone who pointed out the dates issue - I've just checked the LA website and two of our potential options are indeed on the same day. One is our 'obvious' local school, it has a terrible reputation and the Ofsted report makes for dire reading... But I'd like to see for myself before making a judgement. The other is an outstanding school but a long shot in terms of meeting the admissions criteria. I reckon this is the time to check out the 'not good on paper' school.

We've also got a complete wild card school which I'm definitely going to visit because it will take me a year to persuade DH to even consider it.

TeenAndTween Mon 05-Sep-16 19:46:09

I was surprised in one school by how poor the displays of pupil work were

Which could mean that the standard of work wasn't vey high.
or
Could mean they are happy to display the work of bottom set children as well as top set ones.

iseenodust Tue 06-Sep-16 10:14:04

Teenand Sorry I wasn't clear about the pupil work displays. I wasn't commenting on the standard of work but the half-arsed, only a handful of pieces that were up. It was as if they weren't proud of the children's efforts. There were a lot of bare walls in classrooms so not much inspiring subject related info either.

TeenAndTween Tue 06-Sep-16 10:18:40

iseen I see what you mean. That would put me off too.

Dixiechickonhols Tue 06-Sep-16 12:49:51

Yes we did and took DD. It was helpful with her there are she really preferred one to the other. Going to redo the two from last time and look at some others too this time.

The open days are very close to the application date in yr 6 so no time to properly consider or revisit.

The nights are so packed that it is hard to see it all. I disliked one school (which is our dead cert) It is big and not sure if it was just a reaction to that so interested in my reaction this time.

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