Hertfordshire County Council's online school admissions system has created the blueprint for local authorities rolling out systems for the 2007-2008 academic year.
Due to the school admissions timetable, 150 local authorities in England were required to offer an online school admissions system by September 2006 that would enable parents to apply online for the 2007-2008 school year.
Hertfordshire volunteered to pilot the schools admissions system and became the lead authority for the eAdmissions National Project, which is jointly sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Education and Skills.
Hertfordshire achieved 58% take-up for admissions to the 2006-2007 school year, after a big marketing push for the new system.
The council also set up low-key pilot projects with 35 other local authorities for the 2006-2007 school intake, which achieved the target of average take-up rates of 10.5%.
The government also wants local authorities to set up contact centres to assist parents with online school admissions. The top local authorities are expected to process between 5% and 10% of admissions electronically this year for the 2007 academic year, and between 10% and 20% for 2008.
Although councils can procure their own admissions systems, they all have to be based on the guidelines established by Hertfordshire County Council.
Central government gave Hertfordshire County Council £5m over three years to design business processes, set out best practice guidelines and generate marketing material aimed at parents.
The other local authorities have received no additional funding for the new systems. The government expects them to procure and deploy systems using the e-government money that all councils have received over the past few years.
Hertfordshire set up a sponsoring group to oversee the development of the admissions system. It included representatives from the Department for Education and Skills, the Department for Communities and Local Government and some of the 35 councils that were first to implement systems.
Local education authorities wanted to reduce the time spent on administering school admissions by cutting out manual data entry. They expected that automating systems would decrease mistakes by ensuring all the information needed for an application is entered.Comment on this article: firstname.lastname@example.org