Disclaimer : These are the opinions of an opinionated person.
Harris Crystal Palace was the first school we went to. We got there to a rather long queue but it moved along quickly enough. We were given a fairly comprehensive pack including the prospectus and various other bits of paper. We got in and a group of us were assigned a guide to show us around the school. We very quickly lost her. She sped along without waiting for us and after the first couple of rooms we didn’t see her again. The open day was designed in a way that you followed a prescribed path and so we still saw all that there was to see.
It was fantastically crowded and the welcome pack stated that last year 3500 people had come for the open evening. So we went along this conveyor belt and saw all the bits.
The humanities section wasn’t presented that well. The science sections were well presented and looked quite popular and that seems to be one of the school’s strengths. There were student musicians at various points in the ‘tour’ and that was quite a good to way to convey the atmosphere. There were no classical instruments though, it was all guitar, bass drums, keys kind of stuff. Overall I came away with the impression of a strong science department and a good music department. The humanities didn’t seem to offer that much though.
The student population seemed to be a good mix of cultures and backgrounds. Some of the guides seemed really enthusiastic about their job while others looked bored. So a mix overall.
The headteachers talk came at the end of the tour. She spoke a lot and spoke very fast. The one sentence I do remember her saying was: ‘Do you want to take the baby out? Give it a cuddle or something.’ It was said in a nice enough way but it did sum up for me a lot of what school was about.
I felt that it was a bit of an efficient factory. That fact that they have only one open evening, that the route is entirely prescribed, that the headteacher gave us a rather large amount of information in a short time all pointed towards this efficient model of school. So though it’s the flagship Harris academy and has the best results in our immediate area, I didn’t come away with feeling that I wanted my daughter to study here.