Our ‘No paper’ policy sees online applications for secondary school places soar from just 16% in 2010/11 to almost 98% in 2014/15!
Communication and support are the keys to success
The authority launched a campaign to ensure that families were fully informed of what they needed to do to apply for the their child’s school place online for the year 2014/15, and where they could get help to do so.
All admissions staff were trained to use the new online school application system – Calderdale Council uses a solution supplied by Capita One. With the no paper policy implemented, we needed to make sure the right support was available for families who did not have access to the internet, or lacked confidence in their digital skills, to apply for their child’s school place.
The Admissions team offered all schools and Calderdale Council public facing staff an hour long training session in how to support parents submitting an online application. Most schools sent a representative to the training session. The schools supported the online application process by organising open days in their ICT suites and local libraries, where members of trained staff were available. We provided the same support in our Customer First centres. These are one-stop shops, run by the Council, for citizens to get advice and guidance on all council services.
We provided a direct web link to the schools admissions page on the Council’s website, and a YouTube video was made available to take parents through the whole pocess of applying for a school place online, step by step. Offering different options for local people to find help easily is essential to getting them on board, and encourages firm foundations for introducing a wider range of digital public services.
Finally, one of the most important factors in the success of the online admissions was that the Admissions team were robust in not issuing paper copies of the application form. Parents who could not access the internet were directed to either the primary school or one of our Customer First offices.
Difference it made to Calderdale
Moving online has cut the number of late applications we receive for school places. Information is captured automatically – we know instantly who has not applied for a school place, and can ask primary schools to liaise directly with the parents. There is no longer any need for the Admissions team to send out letters, or re-key data into the system.
The time saved means that the Admissions team can start the process of allocating school places much sooner. The whole process has been greatly improved. In addition, the equivalent of two months work has been saved for a full-time member of the the Admissions team, who can now spend more time on other tasks.
For more information, see Admissions.