From a Meet the Parents event at Yerbury school, Islington, Autumn 2015
“With all of the tensions, whispers and misinformation that can fuel already heightened emotions it was wonderfully refreshing to sit and listen to the common sense, calm and first hand experiences of kids and parents who actually go to these schools.
It was particularly useful to discuss the benefits of having our children attend a local school. Knowing that as they navigate teenage-hood they are surrounded by friends who they and we have known for many years.
A brilliant, illuminating and reassuring session. Thank you for breaking the spell and showing us the great potential that exists right on our doorstep.”
Tim, Year 6 parent now set on sending his sons to his closest school
Pete is a Year 6 parent who went to one of our events. He describes the educational journey he has made – before, during and after.
“Like all parents looking for secondary schools, we started looking at our options with some excitement and some trepidation. We didn’t really have a starting point, other than looking at the geographical distance from our home to our nearest secondary schools. We noticed that based on our location, we only had a few schools we could consider.
We then started talking to other parents who were looking to transition their children from primary to secondary school at the same time as us, we listened to whispered conversations in playground, we scoured Mumsnet and other forums, we “picked up” anecdotal evidence and we studied OFSTED reports. Together these formed our opinions. We felt had no choice. There were no good secondary schools near us. We needed to go down the Selective route, or move home to get into the catchment of a “good” school.
We attended open sessions in schools that were in different boroughs, schools that had good reputations, schools that were the type of school we would want our children to attend. We started even started looking at house prices in different areas.
Then we saw a notice for “Meet the Parents”. Not wanting to exclude any options, we decided to attend a couple of sessions at Yerbury School, to get a feel from secondary school children and their parents about their reality of some of our local secondary schools.
Two of the schools we’d originally discounted were represented. We left the “Meet the Parents” sessions very confused. How was it possible that both of these schools had such positive reviews from the students and parents, when we had heard so much to the contrary?
A seed of doubt started to grow and we started to question our original decisions. We made the commitment to at least look at the schools during their open sessions, and to “grill” the teachers and students at the schools, to see what it was really like to study and work at the schools.
Following a number of visits to both schools (taking our eldest with us) we came away with very different opinions to those that we started with. What we’d realised was that we’d been caught up in a frenzy, where every conversation we had with every parent we met, was about secondary school options and how we had no choice in our area. Some families openly discussed their thoughts and opinions, others were very closed.
Thanks to the “Meet the Parents” sessions, we have now chosen the school we would like our son to attend. Amazingly, it is the school that was at the top of our “scrap heap” last year.”
Testimonial from a Meet the Parents event at Brookfield School, Camden, Autumn 2014
“Around the time we were looking at secondary schools for our elder son, we heard many negative comments about the schools nearest to us. These varied from issues of bullying to knife crime, poor results and bad quality teaching. It was difficult to get a sense of what was true and what wasn’t.
After attending open evenings and official events, I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Meet the Parents”. Not only were the children all excellent ambassadors for teaching at the schools but they were able to give us some insight into what it feels like to be pupils there. In general, the children told us how much they enjoyed their schools, of the many friends they had made, the opportunities and the supportive nature of the staff.
The parents were also helpful, and were refreshingly open about issues of bullying, pupils choosing to leave schools, and aspects of their schools which they felt needed to improve.
All of this made the schools seem friendly places and far from the hives of bullying etc that we’d heard described. We were particularly impressed with the children from one school, and were pleased to see them both at the official open morning a short time afterwards.
They remembered us from the “Meet The Parents” session and were very welcoming. From these experiences, we realised this was a warm, friendly school with lots of student support and avenues for parent-school communication. My son now attends the school and still speaks to the boys from “Meet the Parents”. Everything that they and the parents told us about the school has proved true so far and we’re delighted we made this choice.”
Emma, whose son is now at a local school
From a Meet the Parents event at Yerbury school, Islington, Autumn 2014
“I went to Meet the Parents not knowing what to expect. My daughter was in year 5 and I could feel parents around me starting to get anxious about where their children should go. I knew I wanted my daughter to go to a state school but that was all. And then I met Emille who was on the panel and a pupil at Parliament Hill. Within a few minutes of her sharing her experience of the school I knew that there was where I wanted my daughter to go to. Emille was confident, smart, engaging, funny, honest and a brilliant advert for the school.
After the talk I went up to speak to her and she told me she felt she blossomed at the school. At Yerbury she had been the girl that needed to put her hand up more at school. She said she did ok but it was only once she got to Parliament Hill that she got excited about learning. About a week after the talk I went to look around Parliament Hill and was so impressed with the facilities and teachers as was my daughter that we decided that was without question our first choice. My only hope is we get in!”
A Yerbury parent, now in Year 6, who has now applied for a place for her daughter at Parliament Hill school
From a Meet the Parents event at Holy Trinity school in Camden, Autumn 2015
“I attended the MTP event hoping that it would further inform me on making the right decision in choosing a school for my daughters transition from Year 6 to Year7. I found the event helpful in the sense that I could speak to parents from schools, meet them and have a chance to discuss what their school can offer a pupil.
Previous to this event Acland Burghley was not on my list of schools to view, due to its recent reputation and reports. However, listening to the families speak so passionately and discussing the ethos of the school without direct promotion, it sparked my interest and I felt it was worth visiting with my child.
When visiting Acland Burghley I was initially struck by the atmosphere in the school : it seemed to combine productivity with a relaxed manner. Pupils seemed happy and the staff enthusiastic and approachable with an easy rapport. To be totally honest we were surprised and to date it is our first option. “
Lisa, parent in Year 6 at Holy Trinity school who has now put her daughter down for Acland Burghley school