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School admissions made easy

Thursday 28 November 2019 Data Insight & Analytics

By Miles Reucroft

Administering school admissions is one of those tasks that sounds straightforward from the outside. Parents lodge applications for their children to attend a school, plus second and third choices, the applications get reviewed against the admission criteria and spaces are assigned accordingly. Easy.

Since most people view this process from the outside, it is important that schools have transparent admissions criteria and that these are adhered to in a transparent and fair way. At a base level, schools aim to achieve 100% admissions. This needs to be achieved whilst affording parents options for their children and making clear why decisions regarding allocations have been made.

Meeting the needs of children

When you then add in the complex needs of children, from children with special educational needs and disabilities, those qualifying for the pupil premium and those who are in care, to more prosaic attributes such as proximity to the school, the attendance of a sibling or those who attended a feeder school, there are myriad complications which make school admissions anything but the straightforward exercise they can appear as from the outside.

So, how can local education authorities and schools bring simplicity to what is, at times, a highly complex and challenging task?

The role of technology

Technology has been making the process of school admissions far more straightforward. By integrating with third-party mapping apps, for example, it is far quicker to determine whether or not an applicant resides within the school’s catchment area, automatically saving a lot of time in manually checking each application for such criteria.

By using an online admissions process, schools and authorities can ensure that parents are aware of the admissions criteria and can make the process a lot simpler for them, too. By logging into a parent portal, parents can complete admissions forms online and track the status at their convenience, making the whole process more engaging, more convenient and paperless – no more filling out forms and visiting the Post Office to submit applications.

Furthermore, adhering to the Department of Education rules for which parents can apply by can be formatted into a technology solution. Then aspects such as the ordering hierarchy by which children are granted admissions can be implemented to deliver further efficiency through the process. To speed up the process further, parents can upload elements such as proof of address earlier in the process, ensuring that there is transparency throughout for both parents and administrators.

Having the data securely stored in electronic formatting reduces the need for re-keying data again further down the process and enables schools to automate vast swathes of the admissions process. Just being able to automatically detect whether or not an applicant resides within the school’s catchment area saves a lot of time in having to manually check this. This is also transparent and can be easily evidenced in the case of a dispute against an admission.

Automation

Furthermore, pupils can be linked to others, making it easier to see if their sibling(s) attend the same school that is being applied for. Other categorisations can be made when in comes to the applications of special educational needs and disabilities pupils, as well as those who qualify for the pupil premium. This offers schools a far clearer picture of who is being admitted and who is not, meaning that adjustments can be made where necessary to ensure that the relevant targets are achieved. If they are not achieved, it can be evidenced exactly why not.

Utilising technology and establishing rules within a system also reduces the risk associated with human error. Putting a workflow in place around the admissions process ensures that all steps are adhered to and all information regarding an application can be automatically produced. Rather than having to manually trawl through records, they can be found instantly. This not only expediates the process but makes it far more accurate as well.

Technology is making the schools admission process easier, faster, more accurate, more transparent and fairer.

For more information on how technology could improve your admissions process, visit our IMPULSE page.

School admissions look easy from the outside, but are often anything but from the inside. How can technology make your admissions process easier, fairer and more transparent?

School admissions made easy