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How to conduct a school open day in a socially distanced world

Published on 17/09/20

With schools back in session and navigating the ‘new normal’, the next key event in the school marketing calendar is open days and open evenings.  

But with social distancing regulations, ever-changing government guidance and a general sense of national nervousness, schools and trusts are having to contend with a whole new set of challenges this year. 

So, how can you conduct a successful school open day and achieve your admissions goals in a socially distanced world? 

Open Days with a difference

If you are still keen on holding some sort of conventional open day, then it’s likely you will need to hold multiple events with very reduced numbers. For the extra personalised touch, you could also offer a selection of one-on-one tours with the Head or School Business Manager.  

Whatever option you choose, making your prospective parents and students feel safe will be key to your success. 

Red roller banner in an atrium with a red footprint floor sticker next to it. Banner depicts 3 COVID-19 awareness messages. Dedicated COVID-19 signage will be essential to ensuring distances are adhered to and best practice is followed. This could involve placing an informative roller banner in reception, social distancing footprint stickers on internal and external floors and posters on the walls to highlight the importance of hand washing. You could also place external PVC banners outside your school to promote awareness. 

Prospectuses are also important. These can either be printed and distributed carefully onsite or, you can ask parents to leave their details at reception, for a copy to be securely posted out after the event.  

Alternatively, you could direct visitors to view a digital version – the website URL could be printed on posters around the school with a QR code to the prospectus page that they could scan on their mobile or tablet device. 

Rewriting the Narrative: Virtual Open Days

If opening your school to prospective parents is not an option this year, why not consider hosting a virtual open day?  

Mockup of Tupton homepage takeover in Macbook Air on a bed, looked at by a dark-haired lady.  Remote open events are gaining in popularity, can be conducted in a variety of ways and are the ideal opportunity to maximise your admissions success without holding a physical event. 

To create a virtual open event, you first need a page on your website to direct traffic to. 

This could be a standard content page within the CMS like this excellent example from Greenfield School, or it could be a fully designed and developed bespoke option like Tupton Hall’s homepage takeover or Leicester High’s virtual open day landing page.

Whatever you choose, we recommend that any page you create has two key things:

  • A friendly URL for ease of access 
  • A clear call to action (CTA) - what do you want parents to do when they get there? 

Once you’ve decided where your page will sit within your website, you will then need to create the content. You could: 

  • Commission a virtual tour of your buildings and grounds, with pop-up information and / or video hotspots. Bryanston have a great example of this, as do  Warwick School and Havering College
  • Tell a story through videography; share an example of a lesson, an interview with the Head or a whistle-stop walkaround tour with commentary. The opportunities are endless and it can be professionally filmed, created in-house by a tech-savvy team member or undertaken as part of a student media project. These videos can then be hosted on Youtube or Vimeo and embedded on your school website. 
  • Share your prospectus. This could either be as a digital download, as an interactive flipbook or via a form for parents to request a physical copy.  
  • Request sign ups from parents to attend a remote presentation held via digital meeting software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. This presentation could either be held live with real-time Q&A sessions or be available to download as a pre-recorded link. 
  • Create a central information hub with useful text content, photography and signposted links to your policies, admissions procedures, school values, school history and important details that are tailored to your prospective parents’ requirements. 

Whatever you decide to do and however you decide to do it, it’s vital that you start planning as soon as possible to maximise your chances of success, generate interest and ensure that prospective parents sign up to attend.

To discuss how we can help make your open day plans a reality, contact our team using the form below or call us on 0333 344 9984.


Katie Sixsmith

Katie is our Marketing & Communications Executive and joined e4education in November 2015. She has a 2.1 BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature from the Open University and is currently studying for her Diploma in Professional Digital Marketing with the Oxford College of Marketing. 

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