What questions to ask on a school open day?

…With answers

If you are planning on investing your time to go to school open days you will want to make sure you leave with all the information necessary for you to decide whether it is the best school for your child. Below are the top questions to ask in order to get beyond the sleek prospectuses and flashy websites.

  1. How long is the Headteacher is planning on staying?

    Victoria Smit is the Headteacher at HawleyHurst. Vicky owns the school so is in it for the long haul and very much committed to its future. Read more about Vicky Smit by clicking here.

  2. What are the school’s key aims, ethos and vision?

    You can read all about our aims, ethos and vision here

  3. What are the class sizes or teacher ratios?

    In Nursery our ratios are 1:4 for 2 year olds and 1:6 for 3-4 year olds.

    The average class size in the Prep and Senior School is 18.

    In the Sixth Form, depending on the subject, we have small tutor groups or 1:1.

  4. How does the school handle bullying and challenging behaviour?

    Our Anti-Bullying policy and our Behaviour policy outlines everything that we do to prevent and handle bullying and challenging behaviour including our procedures, strategies, outcomes and the action we take. You can download the Anti-Bullying policy by clicking here. You can download the Behaviour policy by clicking here.

    The most recent ISI Inspection states ‘any behavioural incidents are dealt with proportionately, and records of sanctions are kept’ and ‘allegations and rumours of bullying are rigorously investigated, and action taken is recorded. Support is given for both victim and perpetrator, and the outcome is monitored.’

  5. What makes this school different and sets itself apart from others in the area?

    We have a flexible creative and academic framework. If there’s something your child loves doing, whether it’s sport, acting or dancing, we’ll support that interest alongside their academic studies.

    We are an all-through school from Nursery to Sixth Form. When you visit HawleyHurst you’ll see children of all ages playing together and learning from each other. It’s all part of our whole school philosophy where we encourage friendships across all ages. We achieve this through whole school events, mentoring and participation in House competitions and across school activities.

    There is nothing more boring than sitting in a classroom starring at copious notes. Whenever possible teachers are encouraged to make their lessons practical and show the applications in real life of what they are teaching.

  6. How does the school offer support to pupils with dyslexia or other special educational needs?

    We carefully and accurately assess their individual needs, using external expertise when necessary, and provide them with high quality support, enabling them to overcome the barriers which they face.

    Our ISI Inspection found that ‘Pupils with SEND make excellent progress, because staff support them extremely well in helping them to overcome the barriers which they face…Pupils with SEND make exceptionally strong gains in developing their sense of self-belief and self-worth. They play a full part in classroom discussions and lead assemblies in which they help other pupils to understand what it is like to experience the difficulties they face, and how they have succeeded in overcoming them.’

  7. Does the school offer extra lessons in musical instruments? Is there a choir?

    We offer extra music lessons on the following instruments: Piano, Electric, acoustic and bass guitar, Drum kit, Flute, fife and recorder and Voice.

    There are choirs for all key stages and everyone is welcome. Year 9 to 11 students can also audition for Vocal Performing Group which develops song and dance skills.

  8. How does the school identify and stretch gifted children?

    The ISI Inspection says that ‘An example of the school’s effective provision for more able pupils is the success of those who are entered early for GCSE in mathematics. In their responses to the pre-inspection questionaires, a very large majority of pupils and parents agreed that the school gives pupils the opportunity to learn and to make good progress’

  9. What extracurricular activities does the school offer?

    Our full list of clubs can be found here.

  10. What kind of pastoral care do you offer?

    The ISI Inspection report states that ‘pastoral care is excellent. Staff provide excellent support and guidance for all pupils within the caring family atmosphere that is an integral part of the ethos of the school. A comprehensive pastoral system, with clear and effective lines of communication across all staff, allows tutors to quickly identify pupil’s needs and share appropriate strategies to help help tutees overcome difficulties, whether in their work or in their relationships with others. The school’s care for its pupils is characterised by the thoughtful and sensitive approach of staff, who give generously of their time and act as good role models’

  11. How do they settle children?

    In Reception we have transition days that take place in June.

    We give all new starters as many taster days as they need to settle into the school. They all get given a buddy who stays with them all day.

    Prior to starting at HawleyHurst, enrolled children and their parents are invited to attend events such as fairs, concerts and music recitals at the school to help your child get used to the change in their surroundings.

    All children are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities and clubs which will help them make friends quickly.

    The teachers are always on the lookout for new children at break times.

  12. What enrichment opportunities are there for all students?

    In addition to normal fundraising activities, we ask every child to put on a charity event while they’re at the school. And we don’t just mean washing cars or going on a five-mile run. They have to pitch their idea, research it and risk assess it, work out costs, organise publicity and motivate their team. If they’re organising a smoothie stall, they’ll need to understand food hygiene standards. If it’s a disco, they’ll need to source equipment and know about Performing Rights. This way, children build valuable entrepreneurial skills while they’re raising vital funds for their chosen charity.

    Over the years our pupils have raised thousands of pounds for diverse charities.

  13. How frequent are parents’ evenings?


  14. Are the students grouped by ability? If yes, at what age?

    From Year 7 students are put into sets for Maths,English and Science.

  15. Does the school offer single, dual award or triple award science at GCSE?

    We offer all three.