Open days for schools in Brisbane are not unlike real estate open days, providing you with the fantastic opportunity to check a school out before you enrol or buy.
The best advice we have is to make sure you do your homework. Many schools have a lot of information available online to allow you to narrow down your options, depending on school location, fees, enrolment conditions and facilities. In other words, the best way to start is on the school website. Look for menu opens on their website for prospective students, open house events and campus tours.
Brisbane high schools can be challenging to gain places in without meeting specific criteria. In Brisbane, enrolling your children in private schools as soon as you can and carefully check Brisbane School catchment areas if you have a particular state school on your radar is advantageous.
Brisbane’s best state schools and those state schools in populous areas are often catchment restricted. This means, if you do not live in a particular area, then your child will not be admitted.
First Impressions Count at a Brisbane School Open Day
When attending an open day, one thing to consider is who is conducting the tour. Is it a staff member, a principal or a member of the administration? Some high schools will even use current students to guide parents around the school. We tend to think an appearance by the school principal or deputy (even a short appearance), to be a nod in the right direction. If the principal takes time to meet prospective parents, it shows a commitment to the school community – a top-down approach.
Tips for your visit
- Research the school beforehand and list specific questions to ask during the open day. Often school websites have a specific section for prospective students and their families where you can get all the latest information.
- Dress appropriately and arrive on time.
- Take note of the school’s facilities, curriculum and extracurricular activities.
- Speak with teachers, students and current parents to understand the school culture and community.
- Pay attention to the environment, and take note of the school’s cleanliness and safety.
- Take a tour of the school, including classrooms and sports facilities.
- Ask about the school’s admissions process, including any deadlines and requirements.
Attending a Kindergarten or Child Care Open Day with your Brisbane Kid
Generally, local Kindergartens and Childcare facilities open their doors to welcome prospective parents once or twice a year. The events often include entertainment and games to welcome the entire family and ensure parents feel confident in bringing their children to the centre.
Things to look for in a kindy or childcare centre
The main thing you want to look at in early years open days is how many staff are present for the open day?
How bright and welcoming are the play areas?
Do the children have access to mud-pits, sand play or other nature play outlets?
Are there testimonials of enjoyment across the walls and hanging from the ceilings (aka examples of artwork done by attending children)?
Does the premises look and feel safe?
Attending a Primary School Open Day with your Brisbane Kid
As the years increase, so does the formality of the tours to better cater to the increasing number of parents attending at any time. Some state primary schools exclusively offer personal tours, while some private schools offer intensive open days in addition to interviews.
Open days at this level often show examples of student output while showing the parents around the school grounds and displaying the available facilities and any school achievements.
Questions to ask at a Primary school open day
- Can you tell me more about the school’s extracurricular activities and clubs?
- How does the school support students with different learning needs?
- What is the student-teacher ratio in the classrooms?
- Can you tell me more about the school’s approach to discipline and behavior management?
- How does the school prepare students for further education and future career opportunities?
- How does the school support and involve parents in their child’s education?
- What is the school’s policy on technology use in the classroom?
- Can you tell me more about the school’s facilities and resources for student learning and development?
- How does the school foster community and belonging among its students?
Attending a Secondary School Open Day with your Brisbane Kid
Many private secondary schools conduct tours all year round, culminating in a massive open day for prospective families. Some senior schools only offer one opportunity for a group open day; otherwise, only offer one-on-one tours. It is always a good idea to get in touch with the schools you wish to attend to find out their preference.
The one-on-one or small group tours are an additional chance to have a more personal chat with the administration while open days will allow you to seek out individual teaching specialities and properly explore the facilities at the school you are touring. It can also be a chance to meet other parents and start learning about extracurricular groups and activities offered in the senior school.
Remember that for many private and independent schools and those offering International Baccalaureate, early enrolment is essential with some schools accepting children from birth.
Questions for a high school open day
- Are there any academic programs on offer?
- What sporting and extracurricular programs are offered?
- Are there any arts programs or extension programs?
- Does the school link to any places of higher education (some Brisbane high schools offer subjects that contribute to credits in university)
- Are there any other admissions events?
- What is the admission process?
- How long is a school day? Several Brisbane high schools are moving away from the traditional 9 am-3pm
- What are the school’s academic strengths, and how are they reflected in the curriculum?
- (For private schools), does the school provide any scholarships?
Many schools require prior registration for open days and tours, so always check the schools website or contact them directly, to make sure you don’t miss out.
Accessibility and Inclusivity in schools
If you expect your child to need additional support, then you will need to identify this early in your school enquiries. Find out what the school offers in terms of special education services. If you have a chance to tour the learning support section of the school, this can be advantageous in determining how the school supports their kids’ with learning challenges. At some schools, there will be a head of school learning support and if you are able, we recommend seeing if you can get a one-on-one interview to establish what supports will be on offer for your child.
Virtual Tour of the school
Due to restrictions in place throughout the pandemic, many schools could not hold face-to-face open days and tours, which has led to a rise in virtual open houses.
A virtual tour allows families to view the school facilities from the comfort of their homes, and rewatch the presentation as often as they like.
Virtual tours often include video footage of essential facilities at the school (often 360-degree views) and even interviews with staff, students and families.
Whilst virtual tours aren’t face-to-face, and it may be hard to get an overall feeling of the school, it will undoubtedly give you a good starting point for future discussions. Virtual tours are more commonly offered in the private school space. After viewing a virtual tour, families may have questions, which can be jotted down and discussed with the school later.
Please check out their websites to see if your chosen school offers a virtual tour or contact the school directly.
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