Attending an open day is the best way to get a feel for the place where you will be studying for the next couple of years. It’s also an opportunity for you to speak to the staff, including the head teacher or principal, as well students, who will be able to give you an insight into what it’s like day to day.
Before the open day, make sure to make a list of a few key questions to ask in order to get the most out of the visit. Understanding how many students are in each class, as well as the structure of lessons, will give you an idea about how you will be educated. Other questions to ask could include topics such as who parents or carers would talk to if they had any concerns about their child’s progress or wellbeing.
It’s also important to ask how these school or college challenges high achievers and supports those who require extra help as well as what strategies they have to ensure that children learn and achieve well.
If you have a special interest such as playing a musical instrument or enjoy a particular sport then asking about extra-curricular activities is also key. You could also ask if there would be any trips and events to develop and widen your interests and knowledge outside the classroom curriculum.
Often current pupils will be drafted in to show prospective students around their classrooms and this will give a good insight into what life is like at the school or college. If they are enthusiastic and motivated then this a good sign that they are happy.
If it’s a sixth form, then asking about what support is available to help students decide what to do after leaving school is important. Find out if they have any links with employers and organise work experience placements. When the open day is finished, it should give you a good feel for the school. Think about how you felt when you listened to staff or saw the classrooms. Consider what you liked about the facilities and if you saw or heard anything that concerned you.
Colleges and sixth forms are also turning to technology to help them show case what they have to offer prospective pupils and their families. Virtual open days became popular during the pandemic as a way of offering a glimpse into life in the classroom and showcasing the school’s facilities. Some will also arrange online question and answer sessions with key staff.
If you can’t make an open day, then most will be able to organise an individual tour at a convenient time for you.