Your priority is a holistic education...

You know how important it is for your child to have the time and space to discover and develop their passions. In our modern world, it is very unlikely that your child will leave school and then stay in one career – it is important that they develop lots of interests and skills. This will leave as many doors open as possible. The following guide will help you to get the information you need when visiting secondary schools.

It is important to remember that the information you get during an open day or school visit, should be placed in context with the other information you have available. Your decisions should not be based on one factor alone. I can’t give advice, I can only provide you with tools to make the best choice for you and your family.

What to look out for in the school...

  • What are the music, drama, art and PE facilities like?
  • What kind of things are celebrated on the walls of the school or in the reception area?
  • Can you see any notices about clubs or trips on the walls?
  • What are the school values?
  • How are classrooms set out? Tables set in groups may point to a more interactive pedagogical approach.
  • How are the students behaving? Are they lively and engaged?
  • How confident are the students in speaking to you?

What to listen out for in presentations...

  • Does the head celebrate the experiences of the pupils?
  • Are trips, clubs or societies mentioned?
  • Does the head focus on more than simply exam results?
  • Does the head talk about the future and the skills needed in the next 25 years?
  • Are other career routes discussed? For example, encouraging enterprise or apprenticeships?
  • When do students pick exam options? How much choice do they have?

What to ask teachers...

  • What do you love about your subject?
  • Why is your subject still relevant? What skills do students develop?
  • What trips do students go on?
  • What other experiences will students get in your subject?
  • If my child does not take this subject at GCSE, but wants to continue to develop their skill in it, what opportunities are there?
  • What clubs are there in the school?
  • When do students pick GCSE options? Are there many restrictions?
  • How do you feel if students are taken out of your lesson to prepare for a show or go on a trip with another subject?
  • What approach to pedagogy is taken here?

What to ask students...

  • What do you enjoy doing in lessons?
  • Which teachers are the most passionate and engaging?
  • What skills have you learnt this year?
  • What do you want to do in the future? What careers advice have you been given?
  • Do you play a musical instrument? Do you play in a sports team?
  • What clubs are here? Are they open to all students?
  • What trips have you been on?
  • What has been your most memorable experience of this school so far?