Not sure how to prepare for an open day? Mrs. Wyatt, our Headmistress takes you through the process…
Choosing a school is a bit like choosing your house; you usually know whether you like it within a few seconds of walking through the front door. No doubt you have many schools to see, and your time is precious, so make sure you make the most of your time there.
My advice is to go with your instinct, backed up by thorough research. Start by making a list of what matters to you in the order of importance – is it grades and destination schools that you are looking for, or do you want more of a holistic education, where music and the arts feature highly too? Remember that happy and creative children tend to be more successful in the long term, than those who have attended typical ‘hothouses’ where grades are everything.
Try to make up your own mind and not be too influenced by what others say. Schools are dynamic places, and they morph and change over time, especially with new owners and leadership teams.
Now you are ready to go! If it’s a morning event, be sure to arrive in plenty of time, and watch how the children are coming into the school. Do they look happy? Do they look excited about the school day? Is the Headteacher on the door, greeting the children by name and shaking their hand?
Once inside the building, you should be able to pick up on the atmosphere quite quickly. Some schools will go so far to create a ‘special show’ for prospective parents that they can even change the timetable, which can seem very unnatural and you may not be getting the true impression of the school.
The best way to find out what the school is really like is to ask the children. If pupils are not involved in the tours, try to ask some questions on your way around the classrooms. Ask them what is the best thing about the school and what they love learning about.
At The Lyceum, we find that our Year 6 pupils are our best ambassadors so they lead our tours around with staff on hand to answer any questions that the teachers can’t. Visitors are always impressed by their honesty and self-confidence, and the way in which they know other children in the school.
As you tour the building, look out for how the staff relates to the children. Are the pupils engaged with the lessons and enjoying their learning? Are staff good role models; do they seem to get on with one another? A happy atmosphere should permeate the school, and if it does, your child is sure to thrive.
Find out whether there is a house system or other opportunities for various age groups to interact and meet each other. All children benefit from being in a school where they can spend more time with other year groups. If you haven’t had all your questions answered by the end of the morning, email the school afterward; the school will be keen to put your mind at rest.
When you go home, sit down and reflect on your experience. It may become clear to you that the school is exactly what you are looking for, so send off your paperwork quickly. Remember, there’s a lot of competition for places in the best of London schools.
Your child is unique, and you need to find a school where they’ll feel secure and happy. The chances are if you feel relaxed while you’re there on an open day, your child will feel happy there too, good luck with your search!
Sign up for one of our open days here.