Back to School

When choosing a school for your child, it is important to get as good a feel for the place as possible, writes Sarah Varley

The best way to get an accurate assessment of a school is to see as much as you can – observing the facilities, the staff and pupils in action. Coronavirus and current restrictions have made this uniquely problematic this year, but schools have risen to the challenge of showcasing their offerings to prospective pupils and parents in a number of ways.

Virtual tours
Schools have responded to limitations on visits over the past months by creating virtual online tours. Filmed tours of the school, drone footage of the campus, grounds and facilities and video presentations from the Head or senior staff can be found on school websites to give parents an initial insight into each school.

Some schools offer live video tours, which work particularly well and offer a great, 360-degree view of the school that can be tailored to each individual family. They can give parents and prospective pupils the opportunity to see a school in action and experience each school’s unique atmosphere.

Virtual visits can offer an introduction to the school’s values and history, show a selection of subjects being taught, provide insight into classroom settings and teaching provision, and show families the indoor and outdoor spaces, such as the dining hall and sports facilities.

Live question and answer sessions may be held in small groups, or individual video calls may be available to address particular concerns or expand on offerings for a child’s individual interests.

Open days
As restrictions ease and children return to school in September, many schools now have open days planned, the dates of which can be found on their websites. These specially adapted open days will offer safe, socially distanced tours of schools as well as the chance to talk to the Head and senior staff and ask any questions you may have. They allow you to see the way a school operates, observe pupils and staff in action and experience the atmosphere in person.

Booking systems are in operation for open days, with numbers carefully limited and spaced out across the day or several days. The structure of open days are of course subject to change as the schools continue to work in line with the latest guidance on social distancing.

Back to school safety
Parents should be able to access comprehensive information on each school’s plans for safely reopening in September. This includes planning for extra safety and social distancing measures to mitigate risks, such as details on how pupils might be divided into social ‘bubbles’ to reduce the number of people they are in contact with daily.

All this information should be provided on the school’s website or by directing parents to a clear communication channel for reassurance.



Tedd Walmsley

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Tedd Walmsley managing director of Live Magazines shares his views on the latest topics in media.

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