Addressing primary school application decline through digitalisation
The Guardian reported on 16 April 2021 a steep fall in demand for primary school places in Birmingham and London. 63 out of 71 councils in England surveyed by the Press Association also saw a fall in applications from families with children starting school this coming September (2021).
Contributing factors are thought to include declining birth rates since 2012 and the dip in EU migration brought on by the advent of Brexit.
Pandemic a factor in changing demographics
However, councils have also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as having had a strong influence on primary school applications, with altered working and living circumstances having caused many families to move away from urban areas, especially London.
The resulting changes in urban demographics has made it more difficult for councils to plan school places in the medium to long term.
But the pandemic has also exposed a weakness in the school application process.
A system reliant on touch points
According to councils, many parents simply missed the 15 January application deadline. Why? Because the lockdowns imposed before and after Christmas 2020 to combat rising infections interfered with traditional marketing efforts by councils and schools.
The closure of schools meant that, in the run-up to 15 January, many school visits and Open Days – traditional drivers of school applications – had to be cancelled.
Additionally, concerned parents who chose not to access childcare during November, December and January would have missed essential information and reminders to apply before the deadline.
In a nutshell, the primary school applications process is still heavily reliant on in-person touch points and communications. Any disruption to this can have a disproportionate impact on schools and their future pupils.
With above average numbers of on-time applicants reportedly receiving their first-choice schools already, applying late may have affected many children’s chances of securing their first-choice school.
Digitalising the process can help avoid future problems
Many schools responded to the pandemic by adopting digital tools to aid teaching, parent engagement and administration, with laudable results. Digitalising the processes behind school admissions, such as marketing and prospectus production, can help schools and councils to become even more efficient.
We designed MyEd Search to support schools, councils and parents/carers through the process of researching and applying for a place, whether that be at primary, secondary or college level.
Our online service gives every school a platform to showcase its full unique offer, as well as its Ofsted ratings and performance data. Before and after school care arrangements, staff profiles, in-person and virtual open days, informational webinars and much more can all be listed, alongside user-friendly admissions criteria and survey reviews from parents and carers.
Our aim was to give schools the power to engage parents and carers powerfully and directly, even when in-person communication isn’t possible.
A transformational service
Having the most comprehensive range of information in one place makes MyEd Search the go-to service for parents and carers. With information available 24/7 and updated in real time, parents and carers can always get to the information they need, even when it’s not possible to attend an in-person event. And MyEd Search is free for parents and carers to use.
We’ve worked in collaboration with Birmingham City Council to develop MyEd Search as a tool to facilitate the digital transformation of education administration processes. Our service is now available to help all councils to work seamlessly with their schools, collecting admissions criteria and producing compliant prospectuses with a click of a button. For schools, an easy-to-use dashboard helps administrators organise the data the need to submit.
MyEd Search will facilitate more efficient and effective school admissions processes for schools and councils, and more informed, better-planned, on-time applications from parents and carers – next year and onwards, whatever the circumstances.
Find out more
Get in touch with us to find out how MyEd Search can help you transform your administration and engagement processes: firstname.lastname@example.org