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Making The Most Of Your Open Day

Published on 12/04/17

We're beginning to gear up into open day season, which means now is a good time to start planning how you might demonstrate your school's charisma, personality and charm to all of its visitors.

Your open day is incredibly important when it comes to attracting new pupils and their parents to your school. Once you have managed to inspire enough intrigue with prospective families, you should have acquired a sizeable number of people signing up to attend your school's open day. But, what are you going to show them and how can you guarantee that you will wow each and every single one of them into deciding that your school is the best option? Well, that's precisely what we're going to help you with.

The Key To A Successful Open Day

What is the main thing that parents and pupils are looking for when visiting a future school? What did you look for when you went to look around your first secondary school? What helped you make the decision?

We don't know about you but we believe the key to a truly successful open day is your story. Now when we say your, we're not just talking about the school; we're talking about the pupils, their parents, the staff and your alumni. We're talking about everyone who is interacting or has previously interacted with the school. We're talking about their stories.

A great story will bring your school to life! So, start talking to your key stakeholders. Ask them about their personal experiences during their time at your school. Get into the minds of those who live and breathe the school on a daily basis and find out what it is that they value the most.

Personalise The Day

There shouldn't ever be one route for all of your visitors; everyone is different. Each one of your visitors will have different wants, needs, thoughts, dreams, aspirations, desires, interests, hobbies - you get the picture here. Everyone is totally unique and by keeping your open day unstructured and unrestricted - there's no boundaries with where you can take it. Be intuitive.

If you find that a particular student has a particular love of the arts; dance, music, painting etc. take them to your art department straight away. If everyone in the group is bored of hearing about the library, take them elsewhere. You need to read your stakeholders. Get other students to talk about their first day at school to give them something to empathise with. Everyone is nervous on their first day of school, naturally; and this is a brilliant way of demonstrating a more compelling environment for someone new to join.

A Living, Breathing, Working Museum

Have as much work on show as possible. Not only will this provide you with the ability to showcase how wonderfully diverse the curriculum is, but also to give your existing students the opportunity to talk to visitors about what they have been working on; telling their story. Invigorate and empower your existing pupils to talk about the projects they are most passionate about and the work they are most proud of. This will be evident and reflected in their stories and thus digested by your visitors. 

Don't Just Focus On Your Curriculum

A large percent of a child's life is spent at school and it's most certainly not all based around the curriculum and what goes on in their lessons. When you're showing prospective students around your school, think about how you can demonstrate what their lives might look like at the school. Get existing students to show them where they can hang out on their lunch break, or how long it took them to get to grips with the school campus, or what the structure of their day might look like. 

It's not only going to be prospective pupils who are interested in what their lives behind the school gates might look like; parents will too. This is one of their parents few chances to walk around the school hallways and truly get to grips with what the school is about. Can they picture their child studying there? Can they see them playing rounders on the school field? Is the school an inspiring and engaging place to be? As much as you want to appeal to the kids looking around your school, you also have to convince their parents that your school will provide their children with the best possible start in life.

Follow Up And Keep Talking

Once you have sufficiently wowed your visitors and they have left, don't let that be the last they hear from you until enrolment. Gather the email addresses of each parent who attends and send them a follow up from your open day. Ask them to provide feedback and if they had any questions that were left unanswered. This is a great way to make sure your school remains in the forefront of their minds when it comes round to them making a final decision.

Hand them your school prospectus, promote your social media feeds and encourage them to find out more information on your website. All of these platforms are perfect communications tools to maintain a close connection with anyone who attended your open day.