Blue Mountains Gazette

Take the opportunity to ask lots of questionsAdvertising Feature

Open days are a great way to see what schools have to offer. Picture Shutterstock
Open days are a great way to see what schools have to offer. Picture Shutterstock

School open days are the perfect opportunity for parents and students to find out more about the schools they are interested in.

Whether you are contemplating private, public, Catholic or another independent school, it is your chance to visit and see how the school operates, gain insight into the curriculum and get a feel for the school community.

Most open days give you the chance to meet with the principal, teachers and current students and it usually involves a tour of the campus.

Ben Marsh, parent of a current year 7 student, said his family attended open days for three different high schools that they were considering sending their child to.

"It was a great opportunity to see the facilities and to see if the school was right for our son," Mr Marsh said.

"We found that talking to other students at the school was invaluable. It was great to hear about their experiences and what aspects they enjoyed the most about their schooling. We also asked the staff lots of questions.

"After attending the open days it made it much clearer to us what school was right for our son."

Before you attend an open day give some thought to your child's interests, abilities, weak spots, academic strong points as well as their aptitudes in sport, art and other extracurricular areas to see if the school can accommodate these.

Some open day tips:

Lock in the date

With many schools holding their open days early in the year, reach out to them now to find out the date and time they are being held so you can schedule your visit.

Write down some questions to ask

Prepare a list of questions you would like answered. Some suggestions include:

  • How do you support high/low achievers?
  • How is mental health and wellbeing incorporated into the curriculum?
  • Is there a homework policy? What is the expectation?
  • What extracurricular opportunities (sports, clubs, community service, competitions) are available for students?
  • What are your average class sizes?
  • How does the school perform in NAPLAN and the HSC?

If there are students available, ask them what they enjoy/don't enjoy about the school.

Have a look around

This will help you to get a feel for the school.

Do the students appear happy? Do the teachers seem approachable and friendly? Can you picture your child here?

Take a look at the classrooms, the outdoor areas, the hall and the library and ask yourself if it has all the facilities you had hoped for.

Enjoy the experience

Parents should encourage children to take part in any activities running on the day.

Choosing a school should be a joyful experience so make the most of the process.

See whether scholarships are on offer

If the financial cost is preventing you from attending your school of choice, it may be worth asking if they have scholarships available.

The Good Schools Guide says, "While most scholarships are open to all students, the most likely recipients are generally students who demonstrate outstanding academic merit or financial need."

Scholarships can cover an array of costs from tuition fees to living and accommodation, however it is important to investigate your options early as the student will likely need to sit an examination or attend an interview.

Scholarships may be awarded in recognition of academic, music, sporting or community achievements. They may also be considered for those from rural or isolated areas, those who need to board but cannot afford the costs involved or those who embody the school values and demonstrate both passion and purpose in their education.