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5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a School Open Day

‘Tis the season of school Open Days so we’ve asked one of our favourite schools, Cannon Hill Anglican College, to help us understand what we should be looking for during any schools’ Open Day!

A School Open Days present the perfect opportunity to research a school beyond its static promotional materials. On Open Days, investigations become multi-dimensional, tactile and ‘real’. How can you make the most of your visit to the school? Here are five important things to consider when attending an Open Day.

Principal’s Address

The Principal’s Address will present the essence of the school; its overarching philosophy and priorities, both now and into the future. This is an important prelude to your tour of the campus and provides an informed filter through which to analyse your experiences. It sets the tone for the Open Day. Do you align with the values outlined by the Principal and portrayed by student presentations?

Talk to Current Students

Following the Principal’s Address, take the time to chat with students. Does the school trust the students to be their spokespeople – to lead tours, answer questions and demonstrate leadership? There is no better way to gauge the culture of the school, because children and young people are honest, direct and open. Consider if they are confident and proud, and comfortable in their surroundings, among their peers and other members of the school community. Are they enthusiastic about their learning, inspired by the range of opportunities available to them, confident in taking risks and resilient in a rapidly-changing world? How do they connect with, and demonstrate care to their school, local and global communities?

Is the School Progressive in its Teaching?

The school may impress you on the day, but it is important to seek evidence of a long-term vision; of a teaching and learning culture that focusses not only on today’s education but also on future practices. Are classrooms and programs designed around current and future teaching trends? The Prep students of 2016 will graduate in 2028. Will the school’s teaching and learning practices prepare young people to thrive in an unknown future, to be confident innovators and thought-leaders in careers yet to be conceived?

Get the Facts

An Open Day presents the rare opportunity to meet many members of the school community in a short space of time. It also presents the opportunity to see for yourself, to get the facts firsthand so that you can correctly evaluate well-meaning, hearsay advice from friends and neighbours. In my role as Registrar, I hear some surprising ‘facts’ about the school. There is one sure way to learn the truth and that is to see for yourself, and to measure the school against your own yardstick.

The ‘Feel’ of the School is Most Important

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a School Open Day

One of the most pleasing aspects of an Open Day visit is experiencing how the school feels, as the onsite visit engages all the senses. Trust your instincts, many is the time that a family has walked onto a school campus and known, just by the feel and ambience, that they have found the right place. Each family, however, will be different and have an individual set of requirements in their search for the perfect fit. There can be no better reason to ‘do a Mary Poppins’ and walk into the images on the website and in advertising and the prospectus, than visiting an Open Day, to see the real thing for yourself.

With good research and a successful Open Day visit, you will embrace your new family – your chosen school – well into the future.

Nina Johanson
Cannon Hill Anglican College

This article was published in Issue 16 of our print magazine, June/July 2016.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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