*Contains sponsored links¦ You have undoubtedly already done some research if you are looking for a school for your child. Maybe you’ve compared the Facebook pages and webpages for the various schools? But make sure you don’t rely solely on the marketing materials used by the schools.
Nothing beats going to the school in person to see what lies behind the surface. Often, you’ll sense right away whether or not the school is right for your child. The best way to understand the culture and dynamics of the school is to visit it in action and observe how students and teachers interact. Here are ten things not to do at a school open day.
1. Don’t feel obligated to bring your kid to the open day.
It can be good to bring your child along to the open day, however it is not necessary. If they are old enough, bring them along and see how they react to the environment and people. Ask them questions throughout and after the day to gauge their thoughts and also keep an eye on how the teachers respond to them.
If you feel like they are too young, then you don’t have to bring them, the decision is completely up to you. You might prefer to completely focus on the school and your child being there might be a distraction. You can always go first on your own and then again with your child, or the other way round. While it is great to get your child’s opinion, choosing a school is a big decision and you need to make sure you have considered everything while at the open day. Your goal is to truly experience the school.
2. Don’t rely on league tables or the school inspection report.
League tables and inspection reports definitely need to be considered and they are a good place to start. However, they provide an overview of standards at a specific point in time. Sadly, they don’t reveal much about the ethos of a school. Not to mention whether it’s a joyful school with a wide-ranging, interesting curriculum and excellent child care. There is a lot more to take in that you won’t find from them.
Ofsted reports should be considered, but don’t use the report or SAT results as a reliable hof the quality of the teaching. Some schools have used test-driven instruction to maintain their top rankings in the Ofsted league tables.
No inspection report can inform you whether a school is the best fit for your child. When you go into the school, you’ll likely have an intuitive sense of whether you like the “vibe.”
3. Avoid being unprepared.
You get the chance to ask all the questions you desire during open days. So make a list and write it down. How do students with various talents fare at the school, for instance? What clubs and sports are available?
How long is time spent learning outside of the classroom? How are kids being prepared for the digital workplace of today? How big are the classes? Write out every response you require for your youngster.
4. Pay attention to the school’s social media channels.
Nowadays, few schools do not at least have a Facebook page. Even though most schools don’t place a high premium on social media management, it’s a good place to gauge parent engagement and learn about what’s happening at the school. Do the Facebook page’s parent reviews exist? Because Facebook makes it impossible to erase unfavourable evaluations without a valid reason, you can trust that these are real.
5. Approach the head
In a school, leadership is essential. You’re off to a good start if you can connect with the headteacher right away and they impress you. Are they real? Do you get on with them? Do you believe they will act in your child’s best interests going forward? Will they support your child after getting to know them? Can you establish a connection with the head?
What kind of student is best suited for this school? is an excellent open-ended question to determine whether your child will succeed there or not. Try to learn whether the school emphasises academic success more than the well-being of the complete child. Which of them best suits your child’s personality will be obvious to you. Also, don’t be hesitant to inquire about employee retention. You have a right to know if the school is running smoothly.
6. Don’t pass up the chance to speak with a student.
Look for signs of politeness and communication skills. Are they confident but modest? Observe how students behave around their teachers and peers. Do they seem to be having fun or does the day look like work? Ask them whatever you want to know. Just start chatting. Some good questions to ask:
What aspects of the school do they adore?
Do they learn anything?
What are their preferred and least preferred topics, and why?
How does the head seem—are they frightening or funny?
Not having attended other schools prevents many kids from being able to compare them. You can be a little smart while quizzing kids because they always provide honest answers.
7. Make sure you see everything
Ask to see everything because most open days are “all access” excursions. Don’t confine yourself to a few insignificant classrooms. View every classroom. How well-kept is the school? Is it raucous or quiet? Do they use iPads or PCs, and how worn-out are the machines? Inquire with the teachers in the rooms you visit. What do they think are the school’s strong points? It may be a red flag if they come off as awkward or uneasy.
8. Don’t miss any opportunities to speak with your parents.
If you’re visiting during school hours and pick-up time overlaps, you can talk to the parents who are standing by. It can be really valuable as nothing is more important than what they have to say. Inquire about their opinions of the school. Why they choose it, what the school excels in and how pleased they are with the performance of the school. By doing this, you’ll also be able to gauge your level of comfort with that parent group.
It’s a good idea to watch the kids when they leave the house during home time. Are they both weary and joyful? Or are they worn out and uninspired?
9. Avoid believing in “staged” events
Lets face it, every open day is “show time” for a school. While there is still a lot to be learnt from them, take these events with a pinch of salt. It can be really useful to attend an open day during regular school hours to witness an ordinary school day.
10. Lastly, have confidence in your gut feelings.
Similar to purchasing a home, you frequently get a sense of whether a school is right as soon as you get there. The majority of people base their choice on whether or not they feel that a school is “a good match” for their child. Nobody challenges that, thus it cannot be disputed. Nobody knows your kid better than you do.
Choosing the right school for your child is a very big decision and you want to make sure you have done it right. If you do your research and keep all these things in mind while attending an open day, you are sure to make the best decision. Make sure to attend several open days instead of just one or two, as the more you see the easier it will be to notice the positives and negatives of each school. Many open days are coming up for schools in the local area so get some booked soon!