School Admissions 2018 and School Open Days/ Evenings

Autumn brings some lovely seasonal changes, as well as the start of school admissions 2018 process. Whether you have made up your mind or shortlisted your favourite local schools, it is important to take advantage of the open days on offer and visit a few schools, particularly if your chosen school is oversubscribed. While it may be an important factor in choosing the right school for your child, visiting a school for the first time could be quite overwhelming. Here’s what to look for when attending a School Open Day/ Evening:

1. Headteacher’s presentation

School Open Days and Evenings usually commence with a presentation given by the Headteacher. The presentation is designed to give you an overview of the school ethos, culture and academic values and provide an introduction to the transition process ahead. It should provide a good feel of the whole school environment. While headteachers do their best to promote the school as the best possible choice for your child, you should be observing the way they present the school and interact with the parents;

  • Are they approachable and welcoming?
  • Is the school all about academic achievements or is it a nurturing environment for the social wellbeing of its students?

At the end of the presentation, they will usually give you the opportunity to ask questions. Ask them what support systems are in place, such as provision for children with SEN or different levels of academic ability. Ask them how approachable the staff is for communication with parents.


2. School Tour

The Headteacher’s presentation is usually followed by a tour around the school. During Open Days/ Evenings you get to see students at work in different subject areas. Look at the displays of students’ work in the corridors – these should give you a feel of the creative opportunities students are given.

Look at the overall appearance of the school;

  • Is it clean and in good shape?
  • Does it look like a safe environment for your child?
  • Look for the Sports hall/music room/drama facilities – does the school provide these opportunities for students?
  • Get a sense of the general atmosphere around the school: is it friendly and relaxed or very formal and strict?
  • Do children look happy and smiling?

If your child has special educational needs, ask to have a chat with the SENCO/ learning needs specialist. This is the designated member of staff who specialises in supporting children with additional needs. You want to be reassured that they are always available for students and yourselves as parents.

3. Staff

Most Open Days/ Evenings give you an opportunity to meet senior staff as well as subject teachers and support staff in different areas of the school.

  • Do they look professional and welcoming?
  • Are they happy to chat to parents and provide information about the school?
  • Does the senior staff know the students names?
  • Does the school allocate additional staff for students with special educational needs?


4. Parent/ school relationship

If your child is starting primary school you will have many opportunities to get involved with the school on a regular basis. However, if your child is moving on to secondary school you will notice that your relationship with the school is different to what you have experienced in Primary school. Schools Open Evenings usually have a stall for the PTA. Look for PTA volunteers – these are current parents at the school. Ask them questions! This is your chance to find out whether they are happy with the school in general, ask about the staff or any particular issues that you may be concerned about. Speak to anyone who may be able to offer additional information about the school admissions 2018 process.


5. Facilities – Toilets/Canteen/Lunch hall

These may not be mentioned in League Tables and Best Schools Guides but they are important. Your child will spend a good chunk of their day, every day, at school for a considerable number of years and their wellbeing is an important part of the school environment.


6. Outdoor space/ playground

Children love break time and it is important for them to enjoy the outdoor space and playground during breaks;

  • Does the space look safe and tidy for your child to play and relax between lessons?
  • What is the size of the outdoor space?
  • Does it get very crowded or is it spacious enough for children to play?


7. Extra-Curricular activities

Schools Open Days and Open Evenings will generally give you an overview of the academic achievements and results of their students, but it is important to find out whether they offer any extra-curricular activities and clubs to enrich the students’ education.


8. Transition from previous Key Stage

This could be a transition from Infant to Junior school or from Primary to Secondary school. Ask about any systems in place for supporting your child in their transition between different stages, such as School Buddy or staff support.

9. Is the school the right size for your child?

Some children, particularly those with SEN or learning difficulties, thrive in smaller environments. Look at the size of the school in general but, more importantly, the size of the classrooms.

  • How are the classes arranged?
  • Do students sit in pairs or in groups?

10. Speak to students

Schools Open Days / Evenings are usually attended by older students at the school who act as ‘stewards’ showing you around – these are usually the best-behaved and most academically able students at the school. Ask them questions!

  • Are they happy at school?
  • What do they like most (or dislike) about it?
  • How is discipline handled (for example, if they forget their homework?)

An important tip: let your child share their opinion of the school by taking them with you! Although you are the parent and may make the final decision, your child is the one who will attend the school for the next few years. Do you see this school as the best match for your child? Does it look like a place where your child would flourish? The school admissions 2018 process doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think. Get your child’s feedback on how they felt during the Open Evening and whether or not they see themselves as one of its students.

SENsational Tutors Ltd. offer an exceptional tutoring service. Our private English and Maths tutors can help you through the school admissions 2018 process.

Register for free here to find the best tutor for supporting your child’s education.

See our website: www.sensationaltutors.co.uk for more information or call Joanna Gibbs, (Director) on 07497 139794 to arrange a free 30 minute initial to discuss how we can best support you and your child.

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