I came across the following, very useful info.
“There’s a real value in parents looking at prospective secondary schools at this time,” says Sam Murray, of the Advisory Centre for Education, a charity that helps parents nationwide with this process. “[b]The September open evenings can be very formal, but if parents go now to things such as the schools’ summer fairs, or just look around, they can get more of a feel for a school.[
/b] We get calls from parents every year who weren’t prepared and end up disappointed as a result.”
"Contact the Advisory Centre For Education (http://www.ace-ed.org.uk;
0808 8005793) if you have further questions. Its experts know what they’re talking about and they are free. Remember that overwhelmingly it’s parental support that determines how well children succeed. The best research (education.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR433.pdf) shows that if parents talk regularly to their child, have high expectations, discuss things constructively with the child’s teachers, and are generally positive then he or she will flourish no matter where they go to school." Times