School admissions can be complex and time-consuming, but the right technology can reduce the pressure on families, schools, and local authorities.
With the beginning of another school year upon us, thousands of parents and guardians, schools and local authorities across the UK will be grappling with what is one of the most stressful and complicated areas of education management.
It can be an emotional time, with families wanting to make sure that their child goes to a school that is right for them and struggling to get their heads around the information that is required. From the perspective of the local authorities, the large numbers of applications represent a huge administrative challenge. Not only do they have to place each child in the appropriate school, but they also receive untold numbers of queries from parents.
Fortunately, technology has gone a long way towards making the process more streamlined, and – thankfully – paper forms are becoming a distant memory. The majority of school applications are now made online, with many local authorities turning to dedicated and specialised software to lighten the load.
Creating a better experience for parents and schools
Interestingly, more local authorities are choosing to work on one social care and education management platform, incorporating admissions, to provide a fully joined-up view of children and their families. Luton Council has recently added the Early Years and Education System (EYES) to their Liquidlogic Social Care System.
This means that, from 1 April 2022, everything will be on one platform, where information is more readily available, and less time is spent searching across systems.
More than 8,000 admissions will be handled by the new module, including around 3,000 for the Year R (starting school) intake, 500 for the transfer to infant to junior school, 3,000 for the transfer to high school, and another 2,000 for the in-year cohort.
“We’ve managed school applications online for a long time, but it was time to replace the system that we were using with something that offered greater functionality,” says Debbie Craig, Senior Education Officer at Luton Council.
“Having purchased EYES in May, it made sense to prioritise the implementation of the Admissions module. It will help us improve the experience for parents and boost our own efficiency. Having everything in one place saves time, gives us the full picture of a child and family, including any risk factors, and enables us to share information with schools and other professionals. Ultimately, it results in better outcomes for children and their families.”
Originally in the plans for next year, Luton Council was able to bring the launch of Admissions forward by several months. Their advice is to put a dedicated team in place to handle the roll-out.
“The Admissions module in EYES links with our existing Liquidlogic Children’s System (LCS)/Early Help Module (EHM) systems, which facilitates a single view of a person’s record, will enable more collaborative working between services,” says Natasha Snookes, Technology Business Partner at Luton Council.
“We would encourage other local authorities to ensure existing subject matter experts are engaged from the outset, ensuring they have capacity to maximise the benefits of the integrated platform and transfer knowledge” adds Steven Scott, Application Business Partner.
According to Natasha, the timelines involved with the Admissions go-live have been tight, so being organised and focused is crucial for a successful launch.
Debbie Craig says: “It’s well worth having a central project team and module leads in place to oversee implementation, and to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. We have a fantastic admissions manager who is computer savvy and passionate about making the admissions process as straightforward as possible for families and schools.
“Being well resourced and having someone like that in place that is committed to making the system work makes all the difference. It’s also important that you take your key annual milestones into account, when deciding on a launch date for your new Admissions software. A few dates need to be factored in, such as the deadlines for primary and secondary school applications, along with the national offer dates.
“Having said that, we have been very impressed with the speed that we have managed to get EYES Admissions off the ground. It helps to have a responsive software partner that you have a strong relationship with, and we’re fortunate to have that with Liquidlogic, who we have been working with since 2015.
“Nothing is too much trouble, and no question is too daft. We actually thought we would be looking at launching EYES Admissions next year, rather than 2021, but managed to fast-track the process with the help of the Liquidlogic team. It feels great to be live and we’re excited to see the benefits that it will bring to parents and schools alike.”
Commenting on the successful go-live of the Admissions module in Luton, Liquidlogic Managing Director David Grigsby went on to say: “This has been a fantastic example of partnership working, and we have been impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm demonstrated throughout the implementation.”
Increasing numbers turning to Early Year Education System (EYES) admissions software
The value of having an admissions system with a wider range of functionality and integration possibilities is clear – and increasing numbers are taking Luton’s lead and moving on from more basic solutions. In August alone, a record four local authorities went live with the EYES Admissions module. This is double the number that went live during the same month last year.
“We have seen an influx in local authorities wanting a platform that gives them maximum functionality and visibility, with a number upgrading from more basic online application systems,” explains Liquidlogic Account Manager, Kevin Lutley. “With so much disruption to education over the past 18 months, people are looking for clearer, more flexible ways to manage the application, appeals and placement process.”
“Having an extensive range of tools and features, which includes parent and school portals, online applications, placement planning and admissions dashboards, allows local authorities to have everything at their fingertips. It also means that parents can easily track application progress and manage the appeals process, providing reassurance and peace of mind.”
For more information about EYES and the Admissions module, visit liquidlogic.co.uk or email [email protected].