What To Look For on High School Open Days
Discover our top tips of what to look for when visiting the upcoming high school open days.
September is here, which means the deadline for high school applications is approaching and schools will be opening up their doors.
If you are planning to head to a high school open evening for your year 5 or year 6 child, here are our top tips of what to look for and to help you make that all important desicion.
Take Your Child To The Open Evening.
The final desicion of which high school you send your child to should be down to you but it is also important to gauge how your child feels about the school. Watch how they engage with the school and any activities they have for them to try.
Then make sure you chat with them a day or two after each visit noting down what they say so you can compare after you have seen all those on your short list.
Speak to the Pupils who show you around.
Although the children who will be showing you around will be hand picked you can learn a lot about the school. Ask them about the progress that they have made and if they are taught in mixed ability classes in all classes. Ask them if they are happy and if they have had any issues; what are their favourite and least favourite subjects and why .
Go to the head teacher speeches.
Most, if not all schools open days will include a speech from the head teacher and you should make sure you should attend. The head teacher should have a focus on progress and want to drive the school forward. Listen to their values, if they have a focus on academic achievement or lean towards the picture of a child as a whole; and does this fit with your child and family.
Ask The Head Questions
If you feel that you don’t have all the information you need from the speech go and ask; and don’t be afraid of tough questions.
If the head teacher doesn’t open the floor for questions make sure you grab them afterwards. Ask them anything you are worried about. Ask how they are improving attainment, how do they ensure underacheiving children are not getting left behind, or how those excelling are still being challenged. If they are not being specific as for more details.
However don’t just focus on acedemics . A happy child is more likely to want to learn. Ask for details of after school activities, school trips and any mental health / mindfullness sessions they run, what is their bullying policy and how do they deal with incidents.
Speak to the Teachers.
Although you can get a good idea of the schools values from the head teacher, it will be the teachers who will spending the time with your children. Ask them about the subjects they teach and repeat some of the questions you asked the head teacher and see if you get a similar response.
Also look at them as a whole. Do they look happy, proffessional, exhausted? Do they engage with your child with warmth or do they just direct answers straight to you. How do the existing students behave around them .
Don’t just make desicions on the basis of one or two teachers, look at them as a whole; the one you like, or don’t like may have left by the time your child arrives.
Peek around Corners
The school of course will be putting their best foot forward and will be showing you the best class rooms and areas of the school. However it is also important to have a peak at other areas of the school. Pop your head into darkend classrooms to see if they look like the ones your have visited and have a good feel.
Beleive it or not, the toilets are also a great place to visit. Are they clean? Is the hand soap topped up? Is there graffiti? – all can give you an idea of how the school is run.
Think about how practical the school will be for your family.
Along with the feel of the school you also have to think about how pratical the school will be for your child and your family. Ask about the transport to the school, to see the school lunch menu and a list of the uniform and look at the cost of them all.
Look at the overall Fit
After the open eveing look at the event and everything you have discovered to decide it the school will fit with your child as whole. Did the school have regimented or relaxed feel and how will this fit with your child’s personality. Were the facilities under funded but the staff and teachers have a great feel.
If your still not sure ask for another visit (if the school offers it), do a drive by a lunch time or home time and assess what the looks like when the children and staff are not on show.
Don’t forget the application deadline.
After you all your hard work choosing the school don’t forget to apply .
The deadline to apply for high school places for September 2020 in England is 31st October and you should look at your local council’s website for details of school admissions.