Questions to Ask at Grammar School Open Days
- April 28, 2021
- Posted by: gg-pure
- Category: General
Open days at grammar schools are a real good chance for you to experience your chosen set of schools. This includes everything from the drive to the access, learning and the building. So really take the opportunity to see if the school and its pupils are the right fit.
But sometimes, when you’re there you may get overwhelmed, things won’t go to plan and in cases where you are aspiring for your child to attend a certain school it is easy to become blind to concerns, daily practicalities e.g. travelling 1 and a half hours or just forgetting to ask the right questions.
Before I tell you to get a feel for the school and have a walk around and speak to the existing students (who will be biased), you have to remember that all this is for your child – not you.
With this in mind, every decision you make or question you ask has to consider their best interests. They are the ones revising, sitting the exams and hopefully attending the school for the next 5 years, the impact of this can be life changing and making the wrong decision here can have consequences.
And yes, you can make the wrong decision in sending your child to a grammar school even though the education is brilliant.
Speaking to my child about going to grammar school
As a parent you need to humbly consider:
- Have i communicated openly with my child giving them the chance to speak whilst I listen?
- Is my child not speaking and just doing what I tell them to do?
- Is this what they want?
- Will they be happy?
- Am I forcing them without knowing?
- Am I putting too much pressure on them?
- Am I always objecting / making excuses to a concern they have instead of hearing what they have to say?
- Does my child have a choice and can they say no?
No parent sends their child to grammar school wishing the worst on them, but you may unknowingly be putting pressure and strain on your child with your expectations and aspirations. Their desire to achieve what you (as a parent) want could seriously be making them unhappy.
If everyone is onboard and excited at the prospect of looking at their new school, then I can definitely say there are questions that you as a parent need to ask and know, and questions your child needs to ask. So I have split this article into two sections so that everyone can attend an open day and get what they need from it.
Questions Parents and Guardians need to ask
Your questions need to be around key areas such as structure, safety, timetable, curriculum, consistency, opportunity, activities, future planning and options as well as school performance. You want to understand whether the schools moving forward, so tailor your questions based on the information you’re getting and if in doubt ask! The questions below can help get you started when having a conversation:
- Do Year 7s get a separate play area or staggered lunch times?
- Do new pupils have a buddy or mentor allocated to them?
- Would you send your child to this school?
- How does the school cater for gifted and talented children?
- How does the school cater for children with learning difficulties?
- What evidence can you show me that my child will be stretched?
- How many external speakers visit the school for the lower years? (police, speakers from organisations of interest to the pupils)
- Are there any overseas trips in the first year?
- How many local trips do the children take in their first year? And in subsequent years?
- What would you do if I complained that my child was being bullied?
- What would you do if I complained about the quality of teaching?
- What happens if GCSE options ‘clash’? How accommodating is the school when this happens?
- How many trainee teachers do they have at present?
- How many new staff have they had in the last two years?
- Are the extra-curricular clubs/ activities free or do we have to pay for them?
- How many staff are trained to administer first aid?
- What is the most serious injury (to a pupil) that the school has had to deal with?
Questions Child / Student need to ask
Your questions need to be around day to day life, structure, timetable as well as what things you can do, or get to do at the school. By getting an idea of how students feel about things like assembly, teachers, lunch and playtime you would get a good insight into how school is. As well as this the kind of study activities or even trips they get to go on will help you gauge whether you will enjoy being at the school.
If anything, find out what your needs are, what do you enjoy doing, seeing, hearing or taking part in? Maybe you enjoy football or are a genius on the computer, if so, find out what the school has to offer so you can pursue your passions even more!
- How much homework do you get each day?
- Is your weekend occupied with homework as well or do you have time for your out-of-school activities?
- Is all your classwork/homework marked?
- How easy is it to get into extra-curricular groups?
- Which extra-curricular groups are always oversubscribed?
- Is there a good choice on lunch menu and are the queues reasonable?
- What happens on wet days – where do the pupils go?
- Are the library and computer rooms open during break time, lunch and after school?
- How easy is it to find a member of staff if you have a query/problem?
- Do you find being in a selective school challenging or intimidating?
- Are pupils allowed to wait inside the school after dismissal for transport or must they be out at the school gates?
- Are bullying problems sorted out by detention or exclusions for the perpetrator?
- Are anti-bullying measures effective?
- Is there a separate discipline master or is the form tutor or Head of Year in charge of any transgressions?
- Who was the most helpful teacher you had last year? Why? How?
- What do you think of your Head teacher?
- Are you happy at the school, and do you have fun here?
- Would you be happy for your little brother or sister to follow them to the school?
- How much did the school influence you in your GCSE options?
- What does the school do to help you decide on your career path?
- How often do you use the interactive whiteboard (or other technology) in your normal lessons?
- What are the best things about lessons?
- What are the worst?
- How well behaved are the pupils?
- Are the toilets kept clean?
- What is your favourite subject? Why?
- What is your most difficult subject? Why?
- Do you often have to share resources?
- In the science lab: When do you get to dissect a rat?