What to think about when visiting a school open day

Open days advice

Primary school open days are your opportunity to find out more about the school and how the school can support your child. You’ll also have the chance to think about if your child will be happy there.

An open day has the potential to be overwhelming. Here are a few key things you’ll want to look out for:


Think about the school building

  • What is the layout like, including the hall, corridors, classrooms and stairs? Are there are any crowded or cluttered areas? Bear in mind that long halls can be dark and dingy, while floor to ceiling windows can provide glare that may be disorientating for your child.
  • Are there any steps? If steps are present, do they have clear edges or could they be made clearer, for example, with yellow lines on edges?
  • Is the playground very large and open, for example, could your child feel lost if they run too far? Is there a quiet area or friendship bench for sitting? Is there a shaded corner or canopies?
  • Where are the toilets located - are they accessible and easy to find?


Consider the lighting and sound levels

  • Is the lighting very bright or are there dark areas? Do all windows have blinds so the lighting levels can be adjusted?
  • You might also want to think about sound levels. In a new build or open plan school, sound may disappear or may not be as clear. In older buildings with high ceilings, sound may be loud and echo, which can be disorientating.


Other things to consider

  • Are staff enthusiastic, responsive and interested when you speak to them about your child? Did you get a sense the school is interested in knowing and understanding the individual needs of all children? This is an indicator your child will get all the support they need, and can often be the deciding factor when choosing a primary school.
  • What does Ofsted say about the school, particularly the provision for children with special educational needs? Don’t forget, inspection reports are always a snapshot and when schools need to make improvements, they try to do so quickly.
  • Think about whether you can picture your child thriving there.

RSBC tip

As there will be other parents present at an open day, it’s a good idea to take notes and get contact numbers for the head teacher and SENDCO, so that you can speak to them later about your child’s specific needs and how they can be met. Don’t be afraid to ask for an additional meeting with the head teacher, if you feel you need one.

Visit GOV.UK for further information on schools and open days in your area.

Published: June 2018

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