It’s open evening season;when schools turn into sideshows


Twitter and teacher forums are buzzing with “What activity can I do for open evening?”. It’s the time of year where teachers become sales reps and SLT smiles are brighter than Colgate.

Teachers spend hours cutting, sticking, tidying and creating. But for what?

Are open evenings worth the time and effort? 

Are there better ways to promote a school? 

Do they really represent the day to day life of the school?

Are parents bothered about the activities that are presented to them? 

Is this what professionals should feel they have to do?

 In some cases teachers are selling their souls in desperation to make their subject look ‘fun’. We demand to be a profession to be respected yet we dress up and become the Disney equivalent of a sales rep.

The flashes, bangs and tricks that a student may experience once in five years are performed in science.

Food that they will probably never eat again (and has little to actually do with religion) appears in RE.

Teachers dress as characters from novels they’ve probably never read, in English.

I know some schools follow open evenings up with open days and year 6 group visits. Are these more representative? Is it more important for a child to feel comfortable on these days than on a show stopping performed evening?

And of course, the biggest issue with these evenings is that for many teachers they become a 12 hour day in probably the most difficult term. The day after you still have to teach and mark all day*. It’s absolutely knackering.

Does anyone evaluate the time/effort/illness cost of open evenings in terms of making a real difference to selecting a school**or have most of the parents and children that walk through the doors already made their minds up?

* All credit to my first ever head who made the day itself a half day and the day after a non-student day where, once you’d packed away you had the rest of the day off. That was probably bending a rule.

** I did one piece of market research on this with a friend and she told me it does actually make a difference. I accept it might but question the ways in which teachers find themselves behaving on the night and feeling for the rest of the week.

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