Secondary schools open day review: Bishop Justus

Disclaimer: These are the opinions of an opinionated person

This particular review missed an important feature of the open day. I missed the headteacher talk. So we’ll have to do that again. However there’s still a lot to glean.

We got there a bit early and the signage was unclear and we found a door and just walked inside. There were students scurrying here and there preparing for the open evening. There didn’t seem to be anyone to ask and finally saw someone who looked like staff and asked him where we should go to wait before it started. He looked entirely puzzled and unsure about the whole thing. Then a staff in the know came up to us and said, ‘You’re not supposed to be in here, it’s only for children.’ I pointed out the fact that there wasn’t clear signage and no one had given us a clear indication. She said, ‘You’re too early, that’s why.’ And with that pat down answer we were shown out to a door where we queued. Not the best start.

Now the British are known for their queues but the open day organisers made a small hash of it. The headteacher talk was going to start in half an hour and they went down the queue announcing that if people wanted to hear the headteacher talk then they had to straight to the hall before the tours. Again no signage and so what we had was people wanting to go for the talk coming and forming another queue, where the tours were supposed to start.

When that got sorted, we were asked to get in and two young people said we could go on tour and they asked where we would like to go. What? We needed to guided through the place not come on a shopping trip! Then a member of staff spotted us and assigned two other guides to us. And we were handed an application form. No prospectus and no other information.

A reader might wonder why I’ve gone on these small details. I think they count. A shambolic open day or evening could point towards a general organisational culture within the institution. Also how good the channels of communication are. However it could be a one off, which is why we’ll probably visit again.

The tour itself was good. Our guides were excellent. There was a lot on show and the departments seemed evenly matched. The buildings are relatively new, so the facilities are quite good. The music section was excellent, with a real breadth of styles and instruments.

So all that was left was the headteacher’s talk but it was after 8 pm on a weekday and it took as an hour to get to, so we spotted someone who could give us a lift and we left.

In a nutshell, the school had a lot of good energy but seemed to lack a strong structure. We’ll see what the next visit brings up.

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