Twynham’s School’s long tradition of success is built on two vital pillars. Firstly, high-quality teaching and learning and, most importantly, the value placed on the special relationships between students and school staff. With a highly successful Sixth Form, half of all new joiners come from other schools and they are recruiting up to 250 Sixth Form students each year. Twynham’s School is a co-educational secondary school located in Dorset. Most students are local and there is a comprehensive minibus service to enable students to attend from further afield. We spoke with Chris Nash, Data Manager for Twynham’s School, and a bit of a SIMS expert! An experienced Data Manager, Chris has worked in schools for over 9-years and has seen many web-based platforms throughout his career to date.
We were looking for a platform that could manage a large Sixth Form enrolment day, provide detailed, fast, and accurate analysis, and manage timetabling and data transfer to SIMS. Before we discovered Admissions+, we had a basic form on our website that would capture some of the student’s essential details. Hosted on the school website, the completed data went into an Excel spreadsheet. We then had to manage our interview process which was hugely time-consuming and required many manual processes. When it came to enrolment day, we then needed to capture the remaining information and for that, we had been using a paper registration form
"The more manual inputting is required, the more chance there is for error and things going wrong"
Prior to Admissions+ we would literally spend weeks chasing CTF’s and following them up which is no mean feat when you are up against an Oct 1st deadline for the census, it’s just not realistic.
I was working from home and we were all having meetings online. In August, there was no clarity about results day and whether or not students would be able to come into school. This situation coupled with the issues we had been experiencing around data and time-intensity prompted us to look at how enrolment could really work remotely. Our school team had spent considerable time looking at an online form on the website, but it was overly complex. Students would have had to email in results online and there was still no way to get the data into SIMS. While we were worrying about finding a solution, we got an email from SIMS promoting a webinar with Admissions+. A few of us signed up straight away! That webinar without a doubt sold it to us immediately. We rang SIMS the same day to arrange to get Admissions+. Three main selling points for us were:
- Communications – key especially for interviewing students when they are not in school
- COVID necessitated remote enrolment day management for a high number of students
- The long-term sustainability of Admissions+. The fact that we could manage our entire process from application to managing interviews to enrolment day, including course selection and timetabling, all through the system was critical
Rosy Picture Post Admissions+
Key metrics we found after using Admissions+ were all around the time-saved and ease of getting data into SIMS. A horrendously busy year was completely transformed. The whole week around results day in August, where the Government were changing their minds, if we’d still had a paper form, we couldn’t have managed it. First BTEC’s were in and then they weren’t, and we had to take those results out. It was changing daily, and we could only manage it because we had Admissions+.
"After enrolment day, I could click a button and have all the information I needed in SIMS"
Usually, we have 210-220 students join our Sixth Form, this year we had 250 students join and that was after we had to turn some away who didn’t meet our grade requirements. We managed to do all 250+ Sixth Form interviews in a single day! We rang students and checked that they had got their entry requirements and hadn’t changed their minds about their course selections. Then we could swiftly complete their enrolment using Admissions+. There really is no margin for error with an electronic form. Even subjects that were oversubscribed, we managed on the same day. Before, we used to have to do that additional work on another day. Another key benefit was that all my SLT reporting was so easy. Previously I would have spent a couple of hours at a PC. Now I could show accurate and up to date reporting within minutes.
We had spent quite some time looking at our own in-built system and had done quite a bit of planning. That shows you what we thought of Applicaa, we’d invested that time but were happy to lose it because we knew the time, we would save with Admissions+ would more than compensate for the change in direction. On enrolment day, I sent in a couple of emails. One had suggestions from me for some development enhancements. Within 24hrs I had a new version of the software with then amendments I had suggested! My advice to other schools is to test the system thoroughly yourself as if you were a student. Make sure it works from the student’s perspective.