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How to make the most of an Open Day or Visit

Visiting a school enables you to a get a feel for the atmosphere and the community. You can see the facilities and get an idea of scale of the school site as well as talk to teachers and pupils. Miss Worsley, Director of Communications shares her thoughts on how to make the most of your visit.
Types of open days

Most schools will have several different options to visit. 

  • Open Day: this is a public opportunity to have a look around. It's worth bearing in mind that some schools will use these events to showcase the best of what they have to offer and many run a special timetable as a result. At Leweston we hold one Open Day per year, in September, but we do so on a normal teaching day so whilst there will be group tours, and a talk from the Headmaster you will experience a typical day-in-the-life.

  • Open evening: usually held on a weeknight and condensed into about two hours. Leweston hold a Sixth Form Information Evening in October when current Year 11 pupils can visit to talk with Sixth Formers and staff about their potential Sixth Form programme.

  • Individual visits: some schools offer families the opportunity to visit the school for a private tour during the school day. These need booking in advance. We suggest that all prospective pupils and their families come for a personal visit. You will be talk one-to-one with the Headmaster, witness a normal day and get a realistic sense of how it runs day-in, day-out but as the timetable will be in full flow, you will see what happens to be on at the moment. 

Tips to prepare for your visit

Book early

Whilst termed 'open events' most schools require booking in advance due to capacity. We have had to close Open days to allow the experience for those attending to be as positive as possible. If you would like to attend book as soon as the information is announced. This also enables the school to liaise with you about your visit and, if possible, to tailor it to your families' needs.

Plan your questions in advance

As a parent, you will naturally have your own questions about the admissions process and the pastoral support in place at the school but before you visit talk to your child about what they’re interested in finding out about. If attending an open event there will likely be lots of other families there so you may need to speak to a few different members of staff to get your answers. Consider questions like:

  1. What extracurricular opportunities (sports, clubs, community service, competitions) are available for students?
  2. What are your average class sizes?
  3. How are pupils supported to make important decisions about their education?
  4. Does the school offer career planning for students?
  5. How do your pupils get extra help if they need it?
  6. How is conflict pupils students handled?
  7. What are your university and further education pathways?
  8. How do you communicate pupils’ academic growth to parents? How is this tracked?
  9. How is mental health and wellbeing incorporated into the curriculum?
  10. What is the school’s vision for the next 5 years?
Meet the Headteacher

Listening to the Headteacher will give you a sense of what they are like as a person – and in turn, how they manage their school. It is important that what the Headteacher says about the ethos of the school aligns with your vision for your child's education. If  attending an open event then join the Headteacher's talk, this is sometimes repeated throughout the day. In an ideal world visit as a family so you can speak to the Headteacher about your specific circumstances and interests. 

Think practically

Visiting the school is a good opportunity to see if it works for you on a practical level. you get to practice what will become a daily commute if your child is a day pupil. If you are facing a complicated or lengthy drive it is worth asking about school transport and boarding options which are designed to make life easier for busy families. 

Attend as a family

We are often asked 'should I bring my child with me?' The answer is that every family is different, some parents might like to short-list schools before bringing their children. What is important is that your child gets the opportunity to look round their options, they are the one that will be spending up to seven years there. It can also help to have more than one pair of eyes, every individual notices different things so you can compare notes at the end of the visit.

Be open minded

You may have friends or acquaintances considering the same school and it is easy to be influenced by their opinions. Every child is different and will need their own unique school experience, consider your families wants and needs not those of other people.