Anger over decisions on post-primary school places in Northern Ireland
Primary school pupils in Northern Ireland have received decisions on Year 7 school places over the past weekend. Over 23,500 pupils have received a decision; however, about 280 pupils have not been given a school place.
While pupils have missed out on school places over the years, conditions surrounding this year’s admissions have been unusual. Chiefly, the practice of using transfer tests to admit pupils into grammar schools was scrapped in light of the pandemic. Instead, individual boards of governors made the decision on which pupils their school would admit based on admissions criteria. Moreover, without the academic yardstick of transfer tests to aid selection, grammar schools became significantly oversubscribed, leaving some pupils without a school place, despite having done well on practice transfer tests.
Compounding the problem, frustrated and baffled parents have reported technical difficulties in accessing the online portal used by the Education Authority to make announcements and manage appeals. Although the Education Authority has since apologised for "an issue that some parents are experiencing with the queue system for post-primary notifications", the problems have undermined confidence in the transfer process - which has been fully managed online for the first time this year.
Managing school applications and appeals more effectively
Although in the spotlight today, issues are not limited to Northern Ireland: admission appeals for secondary school places in England have been steadily increasing since 2015, with the number of successful appeals falling. Whether in matching pupils to the right schools, reducing the number of appeals or simply ensuring that schools information is more updated and accessible, the UK’s centrally-managed school applications system must do better.
At MyEd, we believe technology can help create a better schools admissions process for councils, schools, parents and pupils. Our online tool, MyEd Search, will revolutionise the way local councils handle school admissions. From data collection to prospectus publication, communications to compliance, every aspect of the process will be secure, efficient and trackable, allowing councils to save staff time and resources at minimal cost.
Schools and families benefit, too. MyEd Search makes it easy for schools to go beyond Ofsted and showcase their unique offers, allowing families to make more personalised, more informed choices. Free to families, MyEd Search presents a wealth of understandable information, so families can easily find the best match for their children’s needs and preferences. It also advises on the likelihood of acceptance based on admissions criteria, managing expectations and reducing the number of appeals.
Councils, schools and families can rest easy knowing that all the information held in MyEd Search is encrypted and stored securely, with data sharing protected by 2-factor authentication, meeting international levels of cybersecurity.
We will be launching MyEd Search soon. For more information on MyEd Search, or to find out more about what we do, leave your email address in the box below.