Tips to get the most out of school open days

Prospective parents and pupils are being invited to attend the host of school open days taking place across East Antrim in the coming weeks.

Open days offer an ideal opportunity to find out as much as possible about the schools in your area, giving parents the chance to visit classrooms, talk to teachers or current pupils and generally get a feel for the facilities.

However, as open days at popular and over-subscribed schools can be very busy, your chances to speak to key people - such as the principal - may be limited.

In order to help you get the most out of your visit, here are a few useful tips:

F When you arrive at the school, make sure to note your first impressions. Do you feel welcome? Does the school look well-maintained?

F Feel free to ask questions, either of the staff or the pupils.

F Chat with some of the pupils to get a sense of whether they are happy at the school. Find out what they like and dislike about it.

F If you get a chance, speak to the principal and find out the direction he or she is taking the school and what plans they have for the future.

F If it is a secondary school, try and talk to teachers from as many different departments as possible to give you a rounded view of the school as a whole.

F Look at the ICT and lab equipment. Is it up to date?

F Consider taking your child with you, as they may notice some things you miss out on.

F Check out what extra-curricular activities are on offer.

F Ask about the school’s policy on bullying.

F Find out the options regarding lunch arrangements.

F Finally, while it is the school that is on show, it is also important for you to make a good impression - it could count in your favour when applying for a place.