School Visits

Q. Should we take our daughter on 11+ school visits, or is it better to go on our own in the first instance?


A. This is one of those "well, it depends" questions. If you have a good number of possible schools then it is probably wise to make the initial visits on your own. That way you can, firstly, get a sense of the differences between what schools have to offer and work out what your own priorities and preferences are without having to trail your daughter around numerous schools that you wouldn't, in the end, be prepared to consider.


Visiting schools - as many as you can - is a good way of sharpening up your antennae for ethos, values, atmosphere - but also for those important practical things like maintenance, displays, orderliness and what you can observe of the way people behave and treat each other. You can also ask the questions that are essential to you and your priorities.


Once you have identified a small number of schools to which you would be happy to send your daughter then, of course, visit with her. If there are only a couple to which you could - or would - realistically apply then, yes, it probably makes sense to go all together from the off.


Encourage her to look carefully, to ask questions, to stop and watch activities. She will see the schools differently to you and have different criteria. They may seem trivial to you - but yours may seem irrelevant to her! But you can then share your impressions - and your reasons for your choices - and then - one would hope! - agree on a list of preferred schools. She will appreciate her views and preferences being taken into account and, if academic selection is part of the process in your case, she is far more likely to try her hardest if her choice has been valued.