Secondary school open evenings - format?(6 Posts)
Do you have to be there for the whole thing or can you arrive a bit late?
Just embarking on this step and advice would be appreciated.
Most schools have a headteacher speech/talk during the evening. It's normally done a couple of times so you have to be sure that you know the start times. Otherwise usually it's a free for all and you can get tours around the school with the students.
Be prepared for the crowds.
The ones I went to were packed. Obviously the world and his wife thought their DD or DS would get into a grammar school. Round our way there was only one open evening per school and literally hundreds turned up. Standing room only. I would arrive early if you need to park a car! Generally we found them rushed and little time to talk to anyone. Head's talks usually focus on how good they are, naturally, but I don't think these events get under the skin of a school. Better to speak to parents already there in many respects. You will see some classrooms, library, sports hall, science rooms and anything else of note. Try and grab a pupil and ask what they think is good or could be improved upon. They tend to be honest.
We completely ignored the HT's talk and spent the time speaking to the teachers whose subjects we were particularly interested in because there were no other families around at the time. We are probably nightmare parents because we also escaped from the guided tour because a bunch of parents being shown around with us were obsessed with the drama, sports & tech facilities and our guide decided to miss out all the other subjects. We spotted a staircase pointing towards maths and fled! That gave our DD the chance to find out about school trips etc and we were able to ask the teachers things like how long they had been there and what they liked & disliked. We also went into changing rooms and took a look at the toilets to see if they looked well cared for.
The head who impressed me most knew the name of every pupil and seemed to treat them as individuals. At the end of the day though we knew that we only had a feasible choice of 2 schools, 1 in catchment and 1 just outside and it was down to a pure numbers game whether DD would get into our preference. Luckily we had a very low birth year or I probably wouldn't have even bothered going to see the second school as she wouldn't have had a hope of getting in and would have been gutted to miss out.
Take a look at this article from last year on open days. It's also worth asking if you can come back and look at the school during the school day as it's very different to a stage-managed open evening.
Good lord! It all sounds just as scary as I'd feared. That's for everyone's input and tips.
Luckily decision making time is two years away but we're about to relocate so I thought a school visit might help me focus better on areas to look at.
Try not to arrive late. We are rural and when we were looking for DS last year we had a genuine choice of schools in two towns. Two of these schools (in different towns) had their parents evenings on the same night. We got to the second one in what we hoped was plenty of time, but all the in school parking had gone and we had to sneak in about 10 minutes late after parking quite a distance away. It didn't go down well.
Also if they want you to go round in a group of parents tell them you would rather go around on your own with a student guide. You learn far more this way than going round with a teacher who gives you the party line.
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