Going to an open day is the best way to get into a school’s psyche, says Charlotte Phillips. But how to get the most out of attending?
Schools in our area are currently putting the final touches to their open days. Many have achieved yet another set of outstanding GCSE and A level results. Add their awe-inspiring facilities and it’s no surprise that they are expecting families to flock through the doors in their droves as part of their quest for the perfect education. Though open day season is an exciting time, it can also be an anxious one, particularly if the popular, high achieving school’s parents have set their heart on prove to be fearsomely oversubscribed. Headteachers, who have heard it all before urge parents to take a step back when thinking about schools and start by looking at what would best suit their child. “Parents should try to understand that it’s different strokes for different folks. Different children are going to thrive in a variety of schools,” says Richard Settle, headteacher at Sancton Wood School. Putting the child at the center of the process is key, agrees Sophy Aitken, head of marketing at Felsted School. “Take your time to find the right school for your child. What is right for someone else might not be the perfect one for your child,” she stresses.
A performing arts fanatic who’s ambivalent about team sports, for example, could well be captivated by an establishment with an amazing drama studio and left cold by acres of playing fields, no matter how well manicured. Similarly, a bright but reserved child may prefer a smaller, gentler school in contrast to an outgoing sibling who might flourish in a larger-scale environment. It’s not unknown for parents to send each of their children to a different school to ensure a perfect match for their personalities.
The key to working out which school might be the best fit is to use open days as a contrast and compare exercise. Most families start their research online, where the focus is often on the glittering prizes, from scholarships achieved by prep schools to Oxbridge places secured by senior school pupils. For all schools, recent inspection reports – all now available online – are an essential read. Nut though websites can tell you a lot about a school, says Sophy Aitken
Article taken from Cambridge Edition, October 2007