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Key Questions for School Open Days: What Should I Ask?

As the academic year draws to a close, parents are diligently visiting schools to find the perfect fit for their children. Here are some key points to consider during school open mornings.

You will find some suggested questions below to help with choosing a private school, which you may find useful to take with you when you visit a school open morning:

Key general questions to consider when visiting a school

  • When was the school’s last inspection?

  • How long has the Headteacher been in place, do you agree with their educational philosophy, and does he/she intend to stay?

  • Listen to Leadership. Pay attention to the head teacher's speech. It often reflects the school's ethos and educational priorities.

  • What facilities for sport, I.T. drama and music? Does the school have and is there a development plans in place? If so, what are the plans? What are the school’s specialisms for example science, maths, sport or performing arts and do these match the strengths and interests of your child? These are important factors to consider when choosing a private school. Facilities Check: Request to see everyday facilities like toilets. They can tell you a lot about the school's values and attention to detail

  • What is the average class size?

  • What are the qualifications of the majority of the teachers and how are teaching standards monitored?

Academic review of a school

  • Observe the Teachers: The attitude and engagement of teachers can give you a sense of the learning environment.

  • What is the academic pace and focus of the school? Do they focus largely on academic achievement or is their approach more holistic?

  • Are the pupils grouped by ability? If yes, at what age and are the children assessed in each subject individually or across all subjects?

  • What systems are in place to monitor academic performance, what is the assessment policy and how does the school keep parents informed?

  • How frequent are parents’ evenings and what format do they take?

  • What is the school’s record in GCSE and A Level results, when reviewed in tandem with entry criteria?

  • How varied/flexible is the choice of subjects at GCSE. How many and which subjects are compulsory at GCSE?

  • Does the school offer dual award or triple award science at GCSE?

  • Is a second modern language or Latin a compulsory/voluntary part of the curriculum at GCSE?

  • What is the school's policy on homework/prep?

  • Does the school offer A level, IB or BTEC in the sixth form?

  • Are subject choices restricted by option blocks or is there a free choice?

  • How does the school offer support to pupils with dyslexia or other special educational needs?

  • How does the school provide support for children who do not speak English as their first language?

  • How does the school identify and stretch gifted children?

Extra-curricular activities offered

  • Are there trips and events to develop and widen their interest and knowledge outside the classroom curriculum?

  • Ask to see the school calendar for the current term, as well as the weekly activity programme. Is there a diverse variety of things to choose from?

  • Do lots of children have extra lessons in musical instruments? Is there a choir or orchestra?

  • Does depth in numbers of sports teams cater for the enthusiastic participant, as well as the ultra-talented?

  • Does the school offer the Duke of Edinburgh Award?

  • Do sixth form pupils participate in Young Enterprise?

Pastoral care at private school

  • How is the pastoral welfare of the pupils monitored and how are parents kept informed?

  • Is there a House system and are children offered the opportunity to take on responsibility?

  • What is the disciplinary policy of the school and how are parents informed of matters relating to their child?

  • What career advice are children given and how is this delivered?

  • Does the school assist children to plan and secure work experience?

  • Can the school assist with applications to university in the US or Europe as well as the UK?

Achievement record for the school

  • To which universities or colleges do leavers tend to go?

  • Is the school strong in particular sports, music, drama or art?

  • Things to observe while on a tour of the school

  • Do the noticeboards suggest an active and happy school?

  • How do the children interact with one another, the staff and the Head? Do they look interested when engaged in lessons and happy during their free time?

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We hope this article "Key Questions for School Open Days: What Should I Ask?" has been helpful. Choosing the right school is a significant decision, and these open days are a golden opportunity to gather as much information as possible. Good luck to all parents and students on this journey! If you require any assistance with choosing a private school to suit your child's needs, please contact us for specialist one-to-one guidance from our team of expert consultants.

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