7 tips for parents visiting school open days

School open days are one of the few opportunities parents will get to explore school grounds, speak to teachers, talk to students, and get a feel for the school‘s culture and environment. Furthermore, school open days can inspire your child to work towards a goal; for many children, preparing for the 11 plus exams can seem pointless, but attending a school open day gives them the opportunity to understand the purpose behind the preparation.

To make the most of the experience, it is best to be prepared so that you know what to look out for. Here are 7 tips for parents visiting school open days.


1. Dig deeper in school statistics.

GCSE and A-level results are usually the first port of call when comparing schools, and schools have an impressive way of sprucing this up! Ask to look at detailed data for GCSE and A-level results with a breakdown of the number of students scoring the different levels for each subject. This will give you more insight on the strengths and weaknesses of the school. 


2. Talk to students 

The easiest way to find out if students are happy in a school is to ask them! Use the school open day to ask students if they enjoy attending the school, who their favourite teachers are, whether they like their peers, how they found the transition from primary to secondary school, their ambitions for their future, and what extracurricular hobbies they like to explore in school.


3. Talk to teachers

Great teachers are inspiring and influential – they can be the sole reason children excel. Use the open day to conversate with teachers to gauge their enthusasism about their subject knowledge or the student’s progress. Ask them what they like and dont like about the school, how much homework they usually give to their students, the disciplinary policy of the school, school grading system and attendance policy. 


4. Explore school facilities

Take the time to explore the facilities and absorb the atmosphere. Get a feel for the classrooms and other areas of the school. Look around the library, cafeteria, and other public areas to get an idea of the range of activities available at the school and the atmosphere of the school. Always visit the departments which inspire your child the most as you may be squeezed for time in some open days. Ask the students if they like their facilities and how they think it could be improved. Check with the teachers if there are any planned refurbishments or developments in the future. 


5. Don’t forget to check out the canteen

A balanced diet is important, and many school open days allow visitors to sample the lunch menu. Interestingly, many children state that the delicious food in the school canteen is the reason they chose their favorite school!


6. Ask about support for special needs

If your child has special educational needs or you are unsure if they may have special educational needs, make sure to ask an appropriate staff member how the school will support you. SEN leaders, or department leaders are the best people to conversate with as they should know what the school has in place to support different students. 


7. Admission process 

It is best to do some research on each school’s admissions policy before attending a school open day. This is so you can utilise your time with the school admission’s team effectively to clarify anything you are unsure of. Typical questions to ask include: tuition costs; whether the school offers any financial aid/bursaries, and how this is maintained throughout a child’s schooling;  the tests children must complete to compete in the exam; and when the application deadline is.



Remember these 7 tips for parents visiting any school open day, whether it is for 7+, 8+, 10+ or 11+, these 7 tips remain relevant. You can save time with our handy list of independent and grammar schools in and around London with their entrance exam procedure here.

If you need any advice with entrance exam preparation please feel free to contact us on 0203 488 1278 or info@11pluslondon.co.uk