CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

10 things to ask at a school open day

PUBLISHED: 17:18 07 November 2013 | UPDATED: 17:18 07 November 2013

Education

Education

Various

Choosing a school is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your child. Here, Janita Clamp from The Good Schools Guide shares some handy hints on how to get the most out of a school open day – and come away with a clear decision...

No sooner have schools welcomed back their pupils – all shiny shoes, sharp pencils and relieved parents – then it’s open season for open days. State, independent, grammar or academy? Co-ed, single sex? You only get one shot at this so before stepping onto the educational merry-go-round, here we provide you a handy checklist of what to look out for…

1 What do you want for your child? Make a list of what matters to your family and the kind of education you think would suit your son or daughter. Much depends on parents’ own educational experience and this can raise strong emotions – schooldays are not always fondly remembered. And don’t forget to ask your child what he or she wants…

2 Is it looking good? A school should appear at its best at the start of a new academic year. This doesn’t mean everything should be new, but if the fabric is already looking shabby or dilapidated (ditto the staff), that could tell you something about resources or morale.

3 How’s the head? Try and attend the head’s talk – does she fire you with enthusiasm? Did he make you nod off? This is a head’s big moment and if you leave feeling uninspired it might be time for a rethink.

4 What’s it really like? Take a tour with pupils – it might start out polite and formal but if you’re friendly and ask enough questions you’ll learn plenty ‘off message’.

5 Top marks? Parents consistently put academic performance at the top of their checklist, but league tables don’t 
tell the whole story. Great exam results may be the desired destination, but what of the journey? School websites usually publish past years’ results so look at these for trends.

6 Can your child achieve their full potential? A selective school that creams off the brightest students will always perform well, but what about value added? This is the differential between the attainment levels of pupils when they enter and leave; if your child isn’t a high-flyer, you need to be sure that the school can support and enable him or her to achieve their potential.

7 Have you read the small print? Some independent schools don’t include lunch in the basic fees; off-site options such as sailing or riding are also costly and instrumental lessons are always extra. And then there’s specialist sports kit for team tours etc (not to mention the team tours…). Be prepared to shell out more than you bargained for almost every term.

8 How are things behind the scenes? Good Schools Guide writers analyse results and sit in on lessons, but they also check out lunches, lavatories and litter. Little things can make a big difference to a child’s feeling of wellbeing and, by extension, their ability to learn.

9 Sport for all? Prospectus designers love actions shots – rugby, tennis, hockey, polo even – but check out the fixtures. Is it only the A teams that get matches and specialist coaching?

10 What do the neighbours say? It’s worth checking out a school’s local reputation, especially if you are new to the area. Ask taxi drivers or nearby shopkeepers and chat to people with children of a similar age to yours.

***

For full reviews of over 1,100 top state and private schools plus plenty of advice, check out The Good Schools Guide whose experts have been reviewing schools for 25 years. For more information, visit their website at goodschoolsguide.co.uk

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Yesterday, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search