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For those considering an independent education for their child, attending open days at potential schools is a must. All Scottish independent school open days are coming up between now and mid-November, so it is a good opportunity to visit a number of schools to view their facilities and meet the teachers and students. A number of schools also have open days throughout the year so don’t worry if you miss one now.

Getting a feel for the school will be the top priority and you’ll be able to quickly assess if it is the right environment for your child.  SCIS represents the independent school sector and we are here to help throughout your child’s independent school career, even before they begin. So, here are our top tips to help you navigate an independent school open day.

Child’s perspective

Where possible, take your child with you. They are the ones who will be attending the school after all, so they need to be able to get a feeling for the school in advance.

By being part of the decision-making process, your child can feel enthusiastic about their education straight away. Your priorities as a parent will not be the same as your child, so they will give their own perspective based on what they’re looking for in their schooling.

First impressions

No two schools are the same, so it is a good idea for you to go to visit as many schools as possible. Open days are a great opportunity to get a real feel for the school and this will be a major factor in your final decision. However, try not to make any decisions before you are there. You may find yourself more drawn to one school than you expected to be, and you would only know this if you had attended open days at multiple schools.


Don’t be afraid to ask them – the pupils showing you around will know the school better than anyone, so it is the best way to find out everything you can.

Engage with the students, as they know first-hand what your child will experience as a pupil and it will give a better indication of what they can expect should they attend the school.

Ask open questions – What do they like about the school?  What is their favourite subject and why?  If they could change one thing about the school what would it be?  What is the food like is always a popular question as well. All of these will encourage children to share their experiences and give you a rich source of information to help you make up your mind.

Take the time to view the displays

Every school will have work on display and this is a good way to find out how they cater for children’s different interests and strengths. Does the work display a broad range of skills?

Again, ask the children about the subject matter. What was the process? How is it judged?  Is everyone’s work on display? The school will be proud to put forward the best work, however it should be inclusive and hopefully you will see this by the range of work on show.

Extra-curricular activities

While the school’s results and teaching methods are important, check out what extra-curricular opportunities are on offer as well. These activities will help develop your child’s interests and skills and could be what really helps make their independent school career extra special.

These opportunities could unleash your child’s hidden talents and allow them to try different activities and discover which ones they enjoy most. Children have curious minds and will enjoy trying different things, so make sure the school can offer a varied range of experiences.

Listen to your instincts

You will know better than anyone what is best for your child so always trust your instincts. It’s your decision and is not one to be taken lightly, so sometimes you really need to trust your gut and make the decision that is best for your family with strong input from your child.

We are fortunate to have such a great diversity of choice in our independent schools, so all parents can find a school place that suit their child. We are certain that once you visit the schools you will find the perfect place where your child will feel nurtured and stimulated.


Independent school open days will be on every weekend between now and mid-November (except the October holidays) so make sure to check each individual school’s website to find out dates for any schools that you’re interested in.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for any advice on independent schools or more information on open days, don’t hesitate to get in touch.