Your Guide to School Open Days – How to Make the Most of Them

You’ve done your research. You have been on endless school websites and watched hundreds of school videos, but there is nothing quite like visiting a school and getting a feel for it yourself.

Types of Open Days

Open Days

School open days can be held either on weekdays or on weekends. The advantage of an open day on a weekday is you will be able to see the school in action, with normal lessons taking place. During an Open Day, there will likely be tours of the schools either individually or in groups, talks from the Headteacher, and opportunities to chat with staff and pupils.

Open Evenings

An Open Evening tends to be a week day event, usually lasting a couple of hours. You can expect tours and talks from the Headteacher, and planned events, rather than traditional lessons, will be taking place in the classroom. Open Evenings are a good opportunity for potential pupils to also visit the school with their family.

Individual Visits

Many schools also offer potential families the opportunity to come in and see the school on a private tour. They may have specific days set aside for tours, or you may be able to work out a suitable day with the school directly. You will need to book the tour in advance, but it will provide you with an opportunity to see the school during a normal day. With this option, there are less opportunities to talk to teachers and pupils, but you will likely have the Head or member of the senior leadership team as your guide to ask any questions you may have.

Tips for a Successful Open Day visit

Bring the family

It is important, especially at a secondary school open event, for the family to attend together. Your child is the one that is going to be spending all their time at the school, so you have to be sure that they also feel as though it is a right fit for them. Each individual attending may pay attention to different things, and ask different questions. As the saying goes, two minds (or more) are better than one.

Check the booking information

Some open events allow attendees just to turn up on the day without any prior booking, while others have a booking system in place. The bigger and most popular schools may have a cap on numbers, so it is worth checking and booking your place early if this is the case.

It is all too easy to apply for an event and then forget about it. Once you book your place, add your event to your calendar or set yourself a reminder. As the day draws closer, double check the booking information. Have you written down the right time and date, is there anything else you need to do before you attend?

Plan any questions you want to ask

When on the spot, it can be tricky to think of questions to ask staff and teachers. It is only when you get home that a burning question springs to mind.

Before the event, sit down and think about what is important to you in a school, and what you would like to know. It is also worth sitting down and speaking to your child about what they are interested in, such as extra-curricular activities or clubs, and ask about those.

As a parent, your questions may be about the admissions process, or the pastoral support in the school.

Make notes

If you are visiting multiple potential schools and hearing talks at each one, that is a lot of information to take in. Chances are, all of the schools will start to merge into one! There is nothing stopping you taking a notepad into the Headmistress’s talk with you (you might even get a freebie in your open day goodie bag) and making notes. That way, it will be easier for you to compare all your visits once you are home.

First impressions count

First impressions really do count. Chances are, you will step foot in a school and get a feeling about whether it is right for you and your child almost immediately. It can be easy to be influenced by the opinion of others, but go in with an open mind and see what you think for yourself. Every family is different, so what might not be the right fit for one family, may be just right for another.

Look beyond academics

A school’s academic achievements are, of course, a very important factor to take into consideration, but don’t let this be the only thing you focus on when visiting a school. Spend time looking at displays on the wall, as this is a good way to find out how they cater for children’s different interests and strengths.

Check out what extra-curricular opportunities are offered alongside lessons, as these will help your child to develop their interests and skills, or unleash some hidden talents.

Book a tour

An open day is a great way to get a first impression of a school and find out if it could be the right fit, but it is always worth a follow up visit. If the school has made it onto your shortlist, follow up your visit with a personal tour, so you can ask further questions, and see the school during a normal working day.

Apply for the Oak-Tree Schools’ Open Events Here.