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Virtual School Open Days

Looking for a school in these strange times? Unsurprisingly, these clever schools have stepped up to the plate and have arranged spectacular virtual open days for the coming weeks. Fancy a peak? Book in now.

Lock-down is presenting us all with new challenges, not least how to make changes to events previously felt to be sacrosanct. Take independent school Open Days. These are tough times for every business and making swift, sweeping changes in a matter of weeks, with teams working in isolation from their own front rooms is a challenge a number of schools have been faced with. The May and June calendar is normally packed with choice when it comes to visiting schools. So how do you weigh up what each one might offer you and your family, from science laboratories to performance space, sports pitches to vol-au-vents and cake, but all from the safety of your own sofa? The team at Warminster School give us tips on sofa surfing schools!

Be open minded! In the same way you would if you were visiting in person, approach the experience with an open mind. During Warminster School’s Virtual Open Day, families were reminded that the feel of the school is every bit as important as the buildings. An interesting lesson from our lock-down lives is that a natural, ‘gut instinct’ response doesn’t necessarily require a ‘boots on the ground’ experience, if we’ve learned what to look out for.

What does the school focus on? There will be a natural emphasis from schools to focus on what they perceive to be their strengths – the clever bit here is to identify if these factors are the most important for you and your child. Ask yourself what your priorities are?

Explore the material! Look out for Vimeo (film footage) and Flickr libraries (photos). Schools that celebrate and share their archives are providing you with a genuine insight into the daily lives of their pupils. No amount of clever marketing tools can begin to manufacture this kind of promotional material in large quantities. If pupils look happy and fulfilled event after event, they probably are!

How to engage? Do you want to join live ‘chat rooms’ on the day or communicate directly with key staff after the event? A knee jerk reaction to lock down might be that a zoom or 8×8 classroom meeting is a must (who thought ‘to Zoom’ would become part of our vocabulary quite so quickly?). Some schools post their virtual events, as then prospective families have the chance to enjoy in-depth 1-2-1 conversations with their Head.

In some ways a virtual experience can tell us every bit as much as a physical visit – you just have to be alert to what information is being delivered. Make notes, check your gut response and follow up with the right questions. A virtual tour provides you with quite literally a bird’s eye overview of a school and all without the scrum in the car park, the fight for a brolly and the temptation of a large cream tea.

Salisbury Cathedral School, Salisbury, from Saturday 30 May

Set in beautiful grounds in the historic Cathedral Close, Salisbury Cathedral School is a thriving independent day and boarding school for around 200 boys and girls aged 3 to 13. Their ‘Virtual Open Morning’ will be launched on Saturday 30th May at 10.00am. Join them for the opportunity to meet Head Master, Clive Marriott. He will give a welcome talk, a virtual tour of the school from Nursery to Prep, will tell you about the school’s values, their unique spacious setting and what makes Salisbury Cathedral School so special. You will also be able to find out more about boarding and becoming a chorister in their renowned cathedral choir.

After the ‘Virtual Open Morning’, Mr Marriott would like to invite you to meet with him for a 1:1 chat where you will have the chance to find out more about the school and what they can offer your child(ren) and family. To arrange a mutually convenient time please contact Jojo Orange. For more information about their ‘Virtual Open Morning’ and to register to attend, please email Registrar Jojo Orange, orange.j@salisburycathedralschool.com or telephone 01794 340692.

Salisbury Cathedral School, 1 The Close, Salisbury, Wilts SP1 2EQ, tel: 01722 555300, salisburycathedralschool.com

Stonar, Atworth, Virtual Open Morning 16 May

An all-through day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 – 18 based in Atworth, near Bath, this is certainly a school to look at – highly ambitious for their pupils, they also provide a nurturing education which brings out the best in every child. Oh, and there is an absolutely outstanding equestrian centre. Want to know more? Check it out for yourself at their Virtual Open Morning at 10.30am on Sat 16 May. Sign up here https://www.stonarschool.com/admissions/open-mornings-school-visits. Admissions are very much still open, and families can even request a virtual meeting with the Head. Oh, and read our review.

Stonar School, Cottles Park, Atworth, Wiltshire, SN12 8NT, Tel:01225 701740, www.stonarschool.com

Pinewood School, Shrivenham

Set in 84 acres of rolling countryside on the edge of The Cotswolds, Pinewood offers a seriously family-friendly education for boys and girls aged 3-13, in a day and boarding environment. Sport is tip-top here, academics are excellent and there is an all-round vibe of fun and adventure. Want to find out for yourself? To find out more get in touch with Emily Miller, Registrar on EmilyMiller@pinewoodschool.co.uk or 01793 782208. Plus, read our Muddy review.

Pinewood School are delighted to be hosting a “Virtual Open Day” which offers prospective parents the chance to view welcome speeches from the Headmaster, hear the views of current pupils and enjoy a variety of other videos and messages all designed to provide a real insight into life at Pinewood.  Take a look! Also, the Headmaster is available to meet virtually with any parents who may be considered Pinewood for their child / children.  Virtual meetings can be arranged via the Registrar, Emily Miller by emailing emilymiller@pinewoodschool.co.uk

Pinewood School, Bourton, Shrivenham, Wiltshire SN6 8HZ, Tel: 01793 782205, www.pinewoodschool.co.uk

Leehurst Swan School, Salisbury    

Located in a quiet residential neighbourhood overlooking Salisbury with eye-catching views of the cathedral, Leehurst Swan is an all-through, co-ed day school for Reception children to Year 11 which, with its original Victorian family home main building plus fresh and modern new builds, combines a homely atmosphere with a shipshape sense of purposeful activity. Read the Muddy review here.

In these strange time, the schools is very much ‘business as usual’ in terms of considering applications for September 2020 and beyond, and are committed to providing you with the very best personalised support and advice. Although they are open for children of key workers, they are not able to offer visits to the school at this time. However, parents are very welcome to have a live video meeting with the Headmaster; Terence Ayres using Zoom.  If you are interested in booking a video meeting with the Headmaster please get in touch with the School Registrar; Beverley Smith, registrar@leehurstswan.org.uk

Leehurst Swan School, 19 Campbell Rd, Salisbury SP1 3BQ. Tel: 01722 333094, leehurstswan.org.uk. Watch their fab new video!

Godolphin School, Salisbury

An inspiring day and boarding school for girls aged 3-18 with a serious ‘can-do’ attitude. Check it out for yourselves at their Senior School Snapshot Mornings, as well as their Prep School Open Days – book via their websiteRead our review. This term, Godolphin is replacing their Snapshot mornings with One-to-One Virtuals with Head Emma Hattersley who will chat to individual families. Other key staff can join in these conversations if necessary. In the meantime, take a look at their School Film, reflecting the day to day life at the school and capturing the personality and spirit of Godolphin.

Godolphin School, Milford Hill, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2RA. Tel: 01722 430500. www.godolphin.org

Dauntsey’s School, West Lavington

Dauntsey’s School, May 2012

A co-ed day and boarding school for ages 11-18, with great academics and a truly fantastic extra- and co-curricular programme. Despite not being a heavily selective school, it punches with the heavyweights when it comes to results. A local school with an international flavour, it is friendly and outdoorsy. Oh, and sport is huge! Read our review

Dauntsey’s School, High Street, West Lavington, Devizes SN10 4HE, Tel: 01380 814500dauntseys.org

Sandroyd, Salisbury

A traditional prep school for ages two to 13, with acres of bucolic grounds, impressive results and lots of old-fashioned fun, Sandroyd sits in the grounds of the Rushmore Estate, a super-sized playground for day pupils and borders. Read the Muddy review here, then go wander and wonder. 

Sandroyd School, Rushmore, Tollard Royal, Salisbury, Witlshire SP5 5QD. Tel 01725 516264, sandroyd.org

Warminster Prep and Senior School, Warminster

boys roasting marshmallows over an open fire in the woods

Really one should talk about Warminster School not Warminster Prep and Warminster Senior as it really is a blended entity shepherding boys and girls from age 3 to 18 – but there’s so much to see and say, so we at Muddy took the liberty of two visits and two reviews! Read our review to the Senior School, a co-ed, all-through day and boarding school on the edge of Salisbury Plain that prides itself on nurturing happy, confident and community-spirited pupils here. The Prep, the younger sibling where bright-eyed kids and teachers exude confidence and a love of life, is no less impressive – check out our review

Warminster Prep School, 11 Vicarage Street, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 8JG, tel: 01985 224800, warminsterschool.org.uk

Chafyn Grove, Salisbury, 22 May

A co-ed, non-selective day and boarding school for ages 3 to 13 on the outskirts of Salisbury, Chafyn Grove is poised between town and country, giving kids the best of both worlds – along with top-notch academic results and pristine sports facilities. Book ahead for their next round of Open Mornings, and you can read the Muddy review here! Want to delve deeper into school life? Read our feature on how Chafyn Grove deals with stress and anxiety, and how they are turning their attention to what they can offer kids to help them medal not just in lessons, but in life.

The next whole school Virtual Open Morning for this academic year is scheduled for 22nd May, do keep an eye out for their plans but in the meantime Admissions are open as usual. Please call Claire on 01722 333423 to book a virtual tour and meet with Simon Head, Headmaster via video or phone. If this above date does not work, every day at Chafyn Grove School can be an open day so please do get in touch! Chafyn Grove would be delighted to arrange a date and time that is convenient to you. Places are available for September 2020.

Chafyn Grove, 33 Bourne Avenue, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 1LR. Tel: 01722 333423, chafyngrove.co.uk

St David’s College, Llandudno, 10 June

St David’s College is a co-ed day and boarding school for ages 9-19set in the beautiful surroundings of Llandudno. The school is a breath of fresh air – far from trumpeting exam results, this is a magical place where community is of the essence. The school places huge value on supporting each other, on sport, art and (how cool is this?) 4×4 off road driving in a spectacularly battered old Land Rover. Find out for yourself at their Virtual Open Day on 10 June. Sign up here for your place www.stdavidscollege.co.uk/openday.

St David’s College, Gloddaeth Hall, Llandudno LL30 1RD, Tel: 01492 875974, www.stdavidscollege.co.uk

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