Here are our 7 Vital Considerations for Your School Open Day Plan. If you’ve read our article about the 5-Step Process to Host an Effective School Open Day, you’ll recall that step number one is planning. There’s a lot to cover, so we’ve stuck with our 7 most vital considerations for your open day plan.
1. When to Start the Open Day Plan
Clearly no successful school open day is going to happen without a decent plan. But when do you start the Open Day Plan? In a perfect world, we’d start planning the next one as soon as one open day is finished, of course. Then the learning that’s fresh in the mind can be transferred to the next event.
However, few of us get that luxury. Changes in staff, new responsibilities and other priorities all get in the way. There are some things you can get moving early, before the rest of the open day plan is put in place though.
Once you know the date, start letting people know and making it public. For example, if you use social media to promote your open day, you should be starting to do so several months ahead. Get the date onto the school website as soon as possible and make sure all colleagues have the date well in advance. And update your profile on MySchoolOpenDays.co.uk , of course!
2. Timing the Event
When setting the date, have a thought which day of the week you choose and at what time of day.
Wouldn’t it be great if prospective pupils and their parents could all get to see a normal working day at the school? Of course it would but it’s not always practical, both in terms of lesson disruption and from the perspective of working parents. I’ve seen social media comments from parents that don’t trust open days on Saturdays, so mid-week is probably best, in the evening.
3. Agreeing Objectives
One of the most important strategy roles the core team in charge of the open day plan have is to set the overall direction of the event. Once the broad objectives are in place and agreed, you can start to devise themes and activities that support this overall direction.
Try to provide coherent direction to colleagues. One of the poorest Open Days we’ve encountered was one in a school where each teacher was given a classroom and told to ‘do something interesting’ with no guidance or general theme from the organisers. The best ones are invariably group efforts where staff work together to create a coherent event.
4. Involving Staff
And while we’re on the subject of staff involvement, let’s look at ways of building strong teamwork in support of your Open Day Plan. Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues what’s great about your school – and what’s stopping it being great! Get stories and narrative from them and use them in the open day. It’ll help get their commitment to the event as well as showing parents a positive image.
When involving colleagues, don’t send them off into their departmental silos. Let them understand what else is going on, so they can try to fit the overall theme. You should ensure that staff know what is going on in different parts of the school and what is going to be said in speeches. If you can give consistent messaging to parents, it’ll be much more potent.
The last thing to remember is that parents believe teachers (this research shows that 86% of the general public trust teachers to tell the truth, compared to 21% of politicians). If colleagues are confident in what they say, it’ll be effective for the school.
5. Involving Pupils
Just as staff are involved and have much to offer, so do pupils, of course. Depending on their ages, it may not be practical to have pupils in the core organising team, but there’s nothing stopping you getting their ideas and involvement in showing them. Parents seek pupil reactions at open days, so it’s worth getting them involved early in your open day plan, so they know what to expect.
6. Involving Parents/PTA
Lastly in relation to the broader team, it’s a good idea to use the expertise of parents, especially those active in school life, such as Governors or PTA members. There’ll be many skills and talents in these groups that can provide support and maybe some that can save you money on printing, signage, etc., too. They are also in an excellent position to review the open day plans from a ‘customer’ perspective. Your open day plan will be easier to deliver with parent groups on board.
Last, but by no means least, always ensure you know your budget and how you’re going to spend it, at all times. Set processes in place that ensure you don’t overspend and can re-allocate funds by project as necessary.