Thursday, 2 October 2014

How to run the perfect school open day.

I've become a bit of an expert, so here goes. Headteachers - are you paying attention? 

Firstly, find advocates. Find school leavers, pupils, teachers, governors and parents who will speak well about the school.  Now these should not be the volunteers our the people that did it last year, they should be passionate about the school, eloquent and comfortable with public speaking. 

The school leavers should be polished individuals who are happily placed at university or in a good job, ideally both. The parents of children who won't go to university want to know the school can achieve academic results. The parents of the academically inclined child want to know that the school offers a rounded education. 

The pupils should be immaculately presented (we like uniform here in the UK) and should be articulate. They should talk about what the school has done for them and how they've grown as individuals. They should talk about enjoying lessons and about the breadth of extra curricular activities. 

Only the best and most inspiring teachers should be allowed to speak. They should be engaging, caring and funny. 

The governors should address the topic of school performance and facilities, briefly and in a positive light. 

Supportive parents should share the pastoral aspects of the school in a way that makes parents believe the school is like an extension of family. 

The head should be inspirational. He or she should talk about achievements with pride but also talk about lofty ambition for further great strides that are being planned. 

Ok, that's the speech done, now the tour when school isn't operating. 

Getting around the school needs to be easy. Ideally parents should be allocated a role model pupil as a flexible tour guide. This special pupil will know every inch of the school and have key highlights already in mind but will adapt the tour to the specific interests of the parents and children they're guiding. 

All classrooms will have interactive areas with staff and pupils who will behave as though they have been on a sales  training course. They'll actively engage parents and children in conversation. They'll have prepared a sales pitch which they will modify based on the questions and reactions of the parents and children touring the school. 

The approach required for tours when school is operating is somewhat different and may be covered at another time. 

(Typos are the result of attending to many open days.)

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