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 Post subject: Visiting schools
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:47 am 
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Yes, "seeing" schools is a difficult thing to do. Are they still running open evenings? I'm probably odd, and probably won't get away with it with my own children, but I think I would try to take the approach of going to see lots of schools myself, during school hours, without a child, and then tell the child afterwards which schools are going on the CAF and why. And I would explain still then that they might not get any of the CAF choices. It is not guaranteed for anyone.

I would show her lots of good stuff about each school you are putting on the form, and the websites. I would explain that the CAF is only about expressing a preference. I would say there's no point in wasting her time taking her round lots of schools - she might choose school X, but you might get a place at school Y. It isn't possible for a prospective pupil to see a school properly as the only way of seeing a school properly is during school hours, and by going into lessons. Even then you're not going to see exactly what your child is going to experience as every teacher, group, set is different.

Going on an open evening only allows your child to select by the look of the building and a few pupils and teachers who are put out "on show".


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:00 am 
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mystery wrote:
Yes, " I think I would try to take the approach of going to see lots of schools myself, during school hours, without a child, and then tell the child afterwards which schools are going on the CAF and why. .


Completely disagree with this approach. They have to be involved in the choice process in some way. Ok you don't take them to see a school which they have absolutely no chance of getting into - but if like Sherry there is a good chance (that's how it sounds to me from previous posts) you should take them and let them see the school and explain why you like it so much. DH took DS on tours of both the schools at the top of our list during working hours and it was good for him - just seeing the number of boys there etc etc.

It's them spending the next 7 years there not you :shock:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:09 am 
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Gosh, not taking DC on a school 'tour'???? Glad I didn't think like that as at the appeal hearing for DS I was asked what he thought of it. Of course I could have lied but it would never occur to me not to encourage him to view it before applying?!!! Would never forgive myself for putting him there for 7 years if he hated it :cry:

As doodles said, if it is perhaps a non starter I can understand it but would never put a school on the SCAF without DS seeing it first :?

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:19 am 
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mystery wrote:
I'm probably odd, and probably won't get away with it with my own children, but I think I would try to take the approach of going to see lots of schools myself, during school hours, without a child, and then tell the child afterwards which schools are going on the CAF and why. .


well i hope your children dont let you get away with it :shock: - its ok having a look first and then taking them, but like doodles said its them that will be spending 7 years there - i could never put a high preferance school on the CAf without dc's seeing and liking it first.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:42 am 
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mystery wrote:
I'm probably odd, and probably won't get away with it with my own children, but I think I would try to take the approach of going to see lots of schools myself, during school hours, without a child, and then tell the child afterwards which schools are going on the CAF and why. .


I guess I am with you on this. My DD gets her opinion in but ultimately she leaves it to me to choose and I think I dont do a bad job of it :). And I definitely think, I will be able to able to evaluate things a lot more better than a 10 year old anyway. Well, that's my opinion.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:49 am 
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For what it's worth I really valued my dc's opinions of each school we visited even though we have had to rule 2 out as a result :? . We will always see things differently to our dc's but they have to want to go there and notice things important to them.

Anyway,if they hadn't come along with me we would have missed the spectacle of the trombonist desperate to impress along with the host of others wanting to be noticed at these various events :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:23 am 
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tigger2 wrote:
Anyway,if they hadn't come along with me we would have missed the spectacle of the trombonist desperate to impress along with the host of others wanting to be noticed at these various events :lol: :lol:


Ha ha ..that was one marvellous anecdote.

I had seen DC's covered with badges of all sort and sizes posible, when they come to visit schools on Open Days. I mean why for Open Days, no one is going to pay any particular attention to one child anyway or am I missing something!!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:45 am 
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I think it is a good idea to go without DC the year before the test and make a short list.
We found looking around so many schools in such a short period of time exhausting, by the end of the week it was almost impossible to get DD out of bed to get to school on time. We were pleased that we had made our shortlist the year before.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:04 pm 
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doodles wrote:
It's them spending the next 7 years there not you :shock:


My parents never asked my opinion on which school we went to.... I trusted my parents.

My DS's prefered school was the one with the least homework..... his words.... not sure I agree with his criterias! :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:06 pm 
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I know that my thoughts about not taking DCs on school tours probably won't work, particularly when friends are going on tours. So I'm sure we'll end up going on the tours, but it won't be for the child to make a choice, it will be to pick up a prospectus, hear the head speak, see what colour the carpets are, find out what subjects are on offer etc. I absolutely agree with you when you say the child has got to like it and you'd hate sending a child to a school that they hated for 7 years because you hadn't listened to them.

But the point is this, are they really going to see things on one of these organised open evenings that will really help them make an informed decision as to whether they would want to go to lessons in that school or not? I really think not; OK so you hear the head talk - how many times a week in a large secondary does a child hear that? It's not like a small primary school where the head knows each child well and sees them quite often. OK, so they get to look round all the buildings - and so? How often when you are in school as a child do you see an empty classroom with no lesson going on - rarely - so what's the point of that for the child? Do you really want them making decisions based on the physical look of the building - you're choosing a school, not your next house. You meet some teachers - OK they brought out the really nice willing ones who were happy to give up an evening or Saturday morning for the Open Day - so what? You haven't seen them teach, you haven't see the other teachers who didn't show up. Secondary schoools have a massive workforce.

You see some other children looking round - might include some of their friends - so what - they might not get a place, they might go elsewhere. You hear the head boy / girl speak - so what - your child won't be in the sixth form for another five years and the school could have massively improved or declined by then, and it certainly won't be the same head boy or head girl!

I really don't see that a child can see anything at any of these open sessions that will help them decide on the school . OK the school has a great soccer team, but DS plays rugby and is rubbish at soccer -------- is this a basis on which you or child should base 7 years of schooling? Probably not.

Sherry is in the ideal position (probably) of having missed all the open days / evenings for the schools she is putting on her CAF. This places her in a great position for going to see round the schools on a normal day. Things to really look out for is what the school likes like when it is in session - peep through the little windows in doors as you walk down the corridor to see if kids look engaged, purposeful, happy or if they are bored, in uproar, or chucking things at the teachers. Walk round the corridors between lessons when all the kids are moving from place to place - listen and watch, do you like the atmosphere? Can you imagine your child in it? See if you can observe a lesson (drama teachers tend to be happiest being watched), stroll around outside during breaktime, walk through the canteen at lunchtime, stand near the bustop at the end of the day, look in the nearest shops the park and the pub at lunchtime. Talk to some staff and pupils if you can, but not the handpicked ones!


This will tell you much more. Don't let 10 year olds make decisions based on a trip round an empty school. Yes, when they tell you they don't like it because ............... take in on board of it's a valid reason and a real deal breaker, but otherwise help them reach a better informed decision. Involve them in the decision, yes, but don't let them in any way make it - certainly don't let them say no to decent schools on some whim.

Even at 16 careers advisers say that the biggest influence on children's choices is parents. These children are 10 or 11. They can see you go through a good decision making process and feel confident with your decision (though of course it's not your decision either as you may get none of the choices on your CAF). At 16 and 18 they will be making important decisions for themselves, but even then you have significant influence. Don't give up yet!


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