AIBU - I had more knowledge about catchment and feeder schools than the transition staff(47 Posts)
DC in year 6, so I've just finished doing the rounds of secondary schools near us before I fill in the form. I purposely haven't gone to the open evenings - most round here have been on a Thursday which is the worst night of the week for us to rearrange stuff - and I thought you'd get a much better feel for a school during a normal working day.
For all but one school, I have been horrified at the level of imcompetence and unprofessionalism I have encountered when arranging visits and asking questions of the designated Year 7 transition staff.
One school seemed extremely surprised I could not drop everything and attend their open day
One person showing me around said ' well as I only deal with year 7, I don't know what the current arrangements are for GCSE'.
Not one of the staff members I met knew whare my DC's primary school was, EVEN THE SCHOOL WE ARE IN CATCHMENT FOR!
One school had an Open day back in July, and were 'planning no further visits in September or October', but after a week of badgering after no initial response, did let me in
This school did not want me to come at changeover time and were very specific that I left the school tour before then - (Secondary teaching friend told me this is the time to view a school - tells you lots about behaviour)
And the worst school - i left messages with reception and directly with the staff member on voicemail over a period of 3 weeks. I emailed the office and directly. A friend had no response over a longer period and gave up. I spoke again with the office last Friday, with an indication that I was drafting an email to the head wondering why I couldn't visit the school. Got a response within 20 mins!
Then on meeting up, she's not heard of the primary school (6 miles away in a rural area, so not overflowing with primaries), couldn't answer straightforward questions, and then told the kids giving me the tour 'no need to take her up the stairs, it might tire her out' (3 storey school building).
I'm currently job hunting and feel like I could do better than almost everyone I have met. They have one job to do, just one job.... AIBU?- have others experienced the same?
Whilst I understand your frustration - consider the flip side...
School has an intake of say 240 kids (decent size secondary) and perhaps 300 kids are considering applying. 300 individual visits at a time that suits? Quite a tall order to accommodate...just maybe they filter out more challenging parents this way
They have one job to do, just one job.... AIBU?- have others experienced the same?
Yes but that job isn't (as described in your title) "transition staff"
Nobody in a secondary school could be considered transition staff unless they are a school that run their own admissions (VA or academy or Free School) in which case they might have one single Admissions Officer - an admin person who will know all about admissions criteria and the names of feeder schools if any exist but almost certainly nothing at all about GCSE arrangements.
Year 7 teachers have one job too - to teach Year 7 and ensure their well being. They are not going to know about admissions arrangements beyond perhaps knowing that a lot of Year 7's tend to come from certain primaries or geographical areas.
As for open days, as Guest VW says, many secondary schools have hundreds of applicants so it isn't unusual for them to have a designated evening, perhaps a designated daytime slot and nothing more. It would take hundreds of man hours to accommodate parents who wish to visit individually and see the school in action without other parents there.
Why would you expect random school staff to know about all the primary schools in the area? Or to know about GCSE if they don’t teach it?
I think you are mistaking school staff who have taken time out from their actual jobs to show you around with some sort of tour guide.
YABVU...reading your expectations has actually really annoyed me. You have just confirmed why I am leaving the profession, parents like you who have no idea how a school works and how hard teachers work. The expectations these days are shocking! Get over yourself OP, really....and if all these schools aren't good enough for you, great! They will be minus one difficult parent for the future...
You sound like a nightmare. Why do you deserve special treatment and private tours of the school just because you can't be arsed to show up at the open evening?
The teachers have hundreds more important jobs to do than replying to your bloody emails - like teaching their students!!
You do realize that "school transition" is not a job ... it'll be something members of staff are fitting in around their normal day jobs.
I wouldn't expect a random staff member to have heard of your child's primary (why did they need to?).
I wouldn't expect a teacher who didn't teach GCSE to be able to answer in depth questions about it.
They cannot organize individual tours for the hundreds of parents that might apply, which is why they like people to come to open days.
They didn't want you getting in the way of a busy school changeover time.
It sounds like the schools were actually pretty accommodating, and you seemed to expect special treatment.
So you purposely didn't attend the open evenings? They didn't understand that you couldn't drop everything to attend their per organised open day but it's ok to expect them to drop everything to show you around when it's convenient for you?
Let's suppose a moderately low intake of 180 since it's a rural area. What if all the parents decide to have a personal showing? Teachers are busy.
Does it matter if they have heard of the primary school?
Your expectations are ridiculous. You would not go to The open evenings but expected them to have the same information available to you on a different visit. There are no transition staff! I know schools that take kids from. 40 different primaries. I doubt the staff know where they all are or anything else about them, why would they?
You need to seriously stop being such a Pita!
What they ^^ all said.
My DD's secondary takes children from 40 primaries. A lot of teachers commute in and won't even know their way round the town centre well, let alone know the names of most of the primaries. They simply don't need to know, as when they teach, the previous primary is irrelevant.
Our school organises an open evening and then tours on ~6 days in the 2 weeks following. They are set up for that. People who don't attend those are unlikely to be able to be given individual attention. With an intake of 250, and people being able to name 3 schools, that is 600+ families who may name the school somewhere on the form.
The teacher put in charge of transitions for children accepted into the school (and therefore dealing with putting into tutor groups, July going up days etc) doesn't need to be involved with the admission stuff at all, bar being on hand during the open evening. They will be doing this job in addition to their normal teaching role. At this time of year, the 'transitions staff' may well still be occupied with helping the new year 7s settling in to the school.
To have purposely not gone to the open evenings (when at our school attending seems to be directed time for teachers and thus compulsory for them) so you could ask any question off any teacher, and then expect one person to know whatever random question you want to ask, is not fair or realistic in my opinion.
I bet they're all hoping you don't choose their school.
Our school get the year 8 pupils to show people round in a set time slot - my dd did it recently. If you had gone to open day you could have asked questions at the head's talk, spoken to all the GCSE subject teachers, seen demonstrations, met some pupils and asked lots of questions of the senior management team who would have been in full attendance. I totally understand wanting to see the school on a normal working day, so if they can accommodate another visit then great. And if you want to see behaviour, wait outside school at the start and end of the day. If this stuff is important to you, you have to fit the schools schedule.
Ok, I get the idea I have high expectations. But my expectations were raised by the first school I visited. They had been doing prospective tours since the end of the summer exams, providing parents who enquire with 3 time slots each week to choose from, from then until this week where the transition leader took prospective parents and pupils around the school. This was in addition to an open evening, which I didn't attend as it was the day of my younger child's birthday. Would you want to spend your 7th birthday evening wandering round a school for your older sibling? In addition, transition manager knew DC' s primary and even named the last two years intake of 7 kids from there by first name - this is the largest intake school (230). After asking questions about learning support on the tour, answers were then confirmed by an email to me next day from the learning support department! I had not expected that. Reception staff were polite and professional. And this was a state comp, just like all the others. So if that school can do that, my impression as a first timer in this secondary school application game, why can't they all? I'd clearly been treated too well and had my expectations raised
I have never heard of anyone having such a personal and involved prospective parents' experience for a large state comp with no place yet confirmed.
I've also never heard of a Transitions Manager in the state sector either but hats off to them if they can afford a member of staff dedicated solely to doing that.
Ouf of curiosity, what was the first school like in terms of oversubscription and results (are they desperate is what I'm politely asking!)?
Some of the least welcoming schools I have come across are the ones who are so popular that they have zero flexibility about open days.
They know they are fabulous and will have several children vying for each place so they have no need to disrupt school life with endless visitors, take away a member of staff for days on end to conduct tours and write emails etc.
If the first school lavishes that kind of attention on parents not even yet connected to the school and has superb results, pastoral care and facilities. And if you like that sort of level of service and involvement, I'd go for that one
You are very unlikely to find any other state school anywhere that has the desire or the money to devote to that kind of showcasing.
Agree with Tiggy .................particularly with the 'are they desperate' comment. My school has a waiting list of 150+ and there are no other invites to prospective parents other than open evening ( and yes I would drag my 7 year old around even of it was their birthday) and a couple of 2 hours open morning slots.
From your update I suggest you chose the school that has met your expectations then!
Whilst I do agree that the OP does seem to have very high expectations at a personal level, I actually know my large secondary school with a PAN higher than the school quoted and massively oversubscribed would and does at present have daily visits of parents to look around the school.
The tour is carried out by year 7 pupils and the deputy head with responsibility for admissions is always available to answer questions. I doubt that they would know by name the pupils individually but they certainly know the levels of pupils who come to the school from the 42 primaries last year and can answer relevant questions like transport to school .
We have a deserved reputation for pastoral care and maybe the "other schools" also have something to learn in terms of pastoral care from the "state comp".
The school that provided the best experience is oversubscribed and has the best results. So it doesn't need to put in the effort for bums on seats. The only way you get in from out of catchment is by going on the waiting list post allocation. Its northern catchment borders a much more affluent area, so many of their natural catchment kids go private. However, in the other direction, affluence levels fall away quickly. The other schools all have a catchment area bordering on one of two schools rated as requiring improvement, the worst of which had GCSE 5 A-C at 30% in the summer. Therefore, the schools that weren't interested in parent visit don't need to try hard to gain pupils as they are attracting so many out of catchment kids from these areas. It ends up as a big game of everyone sending kids into the next catchment
I hope the school is as good over the next 5 years as it is at getting you to sign up
As someone who is on their knees with tiredness over two Open Evenings going on until 9pm (having been in school from 7am) and 6 mornings of having scores of parents and kids walk through my classroom trying to teach normal lessons, whilst responding to parents questions instead of a pupil with their hand up, this thread has given me a good laugh this evening. Thank you, OP. (Transition Manager )
You do realise that teachers don’t always live in the area that they teach? I know most of the names of our feeder primary schools but I couldn’t tell you how many pupils they have or wheee they actually are ...
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