Just as when viewing a prospective new house, attending school open days gives parents the opportunity to get beyond the gloss of the brochure. Is the school really as squeaky clean as the photo of the newly built science lab makes out, and are the pupils really as smiley and presentable?
While you’d be sensible to cut the school some slack on the latter point – after all, one un-tucked shirt does not a school make – it is important that you feel you have a good overall impression of the place.
It would be impractical to assume that you can garner all you need from one visit, but an open day will give you a good grounding, provided you know what to look for.
Before the visit
The first thing you have to do is narrow down your options. Ask yourself what sort of school you are looking for; boarding or day, single sex or mixed? Are you looking for a school with a strong academic record, or one which promotes sport or creativity (bearing in mind that the two aren’t mutually exclusive)? Read more