Open days - is it pointless visiting in yr 4?

(15 Posts)

A few of ds (yr 4) 's friends' parents are planning on visiting open days this summer instead of next. their argument is that where entrance tests are involved in sept of year 5, leaving it till only 3 months before to have a look round the school is far too late.

I'm unsure whether to go this year or wait till next summer. DS is in the top few in his year academically and is insisting he doesn't want a tutor for the tests but is happy for me to work with him on Bond papers at home etc.

Had anyone got any thoughts?

LIZS Wed 26-Jun-13 09:33:28

Year 4 isn't unusual for a first look. However many state schools will only "allow" in year 5.

Seeline Wed 26-Jun-13 09:37:15

I think it's entirely up to you. IMO you need to a see for more than 1.5 hrs to make a judgement on it. If you have a lot of options it's probably worth going early to rule some out forthe next round of visits. I know many people have a first look in Y5, before final decisions at the beginning of Y6, but if indies offer entry in Y6, so you would be taking entrance tests in Y5, I don't think having a look in Y4 is at all unreasonable.

AuntieStella Wed 26-Jun-13 09:39:23

Private schools?

For I thought earliest state school 11+ exams were autumn of year 6.

If the applications deadline is indeed autumn of year 5, then yes you'd want to tour in year 4 (perhaps revisiting a short list in year 5). But that is an unusually early cut off - school deadlines are typically autum term year 6 for exams in Jan year 6, interviews Feb and offers March. Check the websites of the schools you are interested in (and ring admissions if it's not clear). And generally it's worth looking at a long list early - check dates of the open days plus when they do individual/small group tours - just in case something comes up and you can't make the available dates in year 6.

Elibean Wed 26-Jun-13 09:43:44

My dd1 is Y4, and we organized a visit to the local state school for all interested parents at her primary school. Any year. But then, it is an 'up and coming' school and confidence is not high at this point - so they need to rebuild it.

The entire Y4 class is going to spend a day there this week, for taster lessons, 'see what secondary is like' kind of experience.

For the other options we have - both state and private - I plan to look around at the start of Y5 with dh, so we have time to decide what options to present to dd in time for her to work towards that goal.

Though I have a feeling the forthcoming all day visit will skew her viewpoint considerably, as familiarity will count for a lot hmm

Lottie4 Wed 26-Jun-13 09:44:20

I didn't realize others were looking around schools, so we only did each school once. We were lucky and got a very good feel straight away - one was welcoming, proud of the children, had their work on display, all the rooms were open and lots of teachers around the ask questions. On top of that Ofsted results were excellent - it's an outstanding school. The other one was totally the opposite in all respects, so there was no competition.

If you have concerns over any of the schools, like poor Ofsted reports, bad rumours, then it can't do any harm to visit twice and ask lots of questions each time. Take your son with you, so he gets a feel as well. It may help you feel clearer in your owns minds whether it's an issue for you.

Obviously, it's up to you what you do re: a tutor. My daughter was in the top two of her class for everything in primary and actually decided she wanted to go to a comprehensive school rather than grammar (personally I think she wanted friends nearer home). She is in all the top sets in comp, but there are clearly 10 or so in each set who are a lot further on that her. From this, I almost think it's better to just let them sit the test and what will be will be, if they pass and get in great, if they don't they can still be challenged at a local comprehensive school. My daughter's maths and English tutors always set homework and give extension work for those that are capable or want to be pushed. They have loads of after school clubs, so if they are interested in a subject they can do something fun with it as well.

Sorry, I should have said these are state secondaries. The main one we would prefer is a grammar - quite competitive. Usually well over 800 children sit the exam for 120 places. The others are not grammars but oversubscribed so have entrance tests of some sort (fair banding for one of them). The least preferred is local massive comp (wide range of ability so performance tables reflect this I imagine).

I guess it's mainly the schools with entrance tests that I should look around this year then? Maybe leave the comp till next year as it's the only "choice" left if he doesn't pass the entrance tests.

LIZS Wed 26-Jun-13 09:44:42

Some state grammars require registration by summer term of year5. Private schools may only have a full open day once a year and have a pre-test date a year ahead of entry. So you do need to plan ahead a bit.

Doh. Sorry, v rushed! I meant the entrance tests are on sept of year 6 in my OP!

Kez100 Wed 26-Jun-13 11:15:26

We did, in year 4 and 6. It was a state school and we wanted to be sure we didn't want to avoid it because, if we did want to avoid it, we would have to be organised for 11+ tutors etc - so we went in year 4 and found out it was a great school with plenty of places (due to small number of catchment children). We then went back in year 6 to get the up to date information, prospectus, uniform information etc

Marmitelover55 Wed 26-Jun-13 20:05:53

Well tbh I think I had a first look around (on my own) when dd1 was in year 3, but the secondary school business is something I have been worrying about for years, and I wasn't sure if we would need to move house. I looked around in years 4,5 and 6 too and it was interesting to see how the 3 schools I was interested in changed over that time. Anyway thankfully it has all worked out for the best.

With DS1 we looked at schools before the entrance tests, because he was from the era (starting secondary in 2011) when we weren't told the results before application.

DS2 was in the first cohort who were told their scores before application, so we looked around the schools after we got the results but before applying.

DS2 had friends who looked around schools before the tests and fell in love with particular schools, only to find out later that they hadn't scored high enough to apply for a place. sad

Some parents feel that looking around early can inspire / motivate a child to work hard in preparation for the tests, but I chose to wait until we knew what options DS2 had and then only look at those.

I also have twins in Y4. One of them is my only DD. I am planning to look at a local girls' school this Autumn (when she's in Y5) then take her to look in the Autumn of Y6.

Thanks. Well, DS and I went along to the open day. He certainly wasn't the only yr 4 there so needn't have worried on that score. I'm glad I went as i'm now veering towards discounting it as an option so might not bother next year. It will be a big decision as the provision (choices) for boys round here is very poor unless you are a church-goer, which we're not. I was able to get an example copy of their entrance test so that was helpful as I'm hoping to tutor DS myself but wasn't totally sure of what was required in sept 2014 when the test dates are. (Can't believe that in the old days you had to apply for places not having had the results of the test, by the way - madness!)

I think the distinct advantage of going this year is to compare against next year - performance has worsened in the school we visited this week but there will be a new head so will watch this space. But for the moment I don't think it will be in our final three so its possibly somewhere we won't bother visiting next year, depending on how we feel when we visit the local comp which holds its open day in the autumn. This had been improving results-wise each year recently and I hear good things from parents of current pupils so if ds doesn't pass any entrance tests as we like it on our visit this autumn then it'll definitely on the list probably higher up than the place we visited this week.

I think I'm happy with looking around now to get a bigger picture of progress ( or decline!) of each school by the time it comes round to filling in the application forms, as someone mentioned here.

Evageorge Sat 29-Jun-13 11:49:34

Private school will usually let you visit, what ever year your child is in. If the state school allows you to visit, it can't do any harm, although you need to remember that schools can change rapidly, and what might be the case this year, could have changed two years later. Also, your childs' needs will change. They might stay top of the class, but their interests could be served better by different schools. I do think www.how-to-choose-a-school.org/open-evenings-and-school-visits.html gives you good advice on this.

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