It’s never too early to plan ahead…

I don’t know about you, but I love making ‘to-do’ lists. As well as being a great way of organising my day, week – life – there’s something very satisfying, almost therapeutic, about completing and ticking off each item, one by one. Buy Amy’s birthday present – tick. Clean out the garage – tick. Book summer holiday – tick. Organise school Open Day…

OK, it may seem a long way off – four or five months to go – what’s the panic? But before you know where you are, these things have a nasty habit of sneaking up on you. One minute your Open Day or Open Evening is at the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list, the next it’s all hands on deck as the big day looms large.

After all, ‘stuff’ happens – as well as the daily practicalities of teaching and learning, there are trips and clubs to think about, the summer drama production, Sports Day, fundraising events, Year 11 Ball and – not forgetting – the end-of-term exams. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

But with a little forward planning, there are a number of ways you can make your Open Day an enjoyable and memorable experience that will both impress and engage all of your visitors. If you’re well organised, then a modest budget should lead to a significant return on investment.

First off, agree your strategy. What, exactly, are you trying to achieve? Do you want to increase the number of students on role, or bolster the Sixth Form? Are there any particular ‘feeder’ schools you wish to attract, or do you want to challenge any negative perceptions?

Consider your marketing channels very carefully, and the materials you will need on the day.

Is your prospectus up to date, and are there enough copies to go round? Is the information it contains accurate and still relevant? Does it truly reflect your school’s values and ethos, and will it appeal to your ‘target market’ of parents and pupils?

Make sure the latest edition of your news magazine is to hand, so visitors can read about all the good things that are going on in your school. What about using your school magazine to celebrate a particular achievement – such as an outstanding Ofsted or your excellent transition arrangements?

Think about using flyers, your school website, and social media such as Twitter and Facebook, both to promote the event and share any relevant information.

Think big. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries and change tired formats. Is your display material or wall art vibrant, memorable, bold and colourful? Does it reflect your school’s energy? Perhaps a ‘Day in the Life’ video, playing in reception as visitors arrive, would showcase your school to its best advantage.

Of course, the satisfaction that comes with ticking off an item on your ‘to-do’ list is derived from knowing it’s a job well done. Whatever your marketing needs, we’re here to help. School Open Day – sorted!

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