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County websites gets thumbs up for school applications

15/04/16

Socitm survey reveals that more than three-quarters provide a very good service, but also prompts criticisms

County councils have won Socitm's approval for their performance in providing online applications for secondary schools.

School_uniformsThe public sector IT association's latest Better Connected survey revealed that 78% of the 27 tested provided a very good service, with 67% providing information on individual schools' latest inspections, and 67% helping parents apply for schools outside their catchment areas. One site provided a 'catchment finder'.

Socitm said that most councils have tried hard to sell the benefits of applying online and do so effectively, with clear deadline dates and obvious links to the online application form.

It said the services are important given that nearly half a million online applications were made in a three-month window in 2015, and that the process can be a source of stress and anxiety.

But it also voiced criticisms. One is that too much information is often buried in lengthy PDF documents, and another is that some sites showed a lack of attention to detail, with poor labels and typos.

There was also a tendency for councils to write in officialese language about issues of little direct relevance to users.

Councils winning the recommendation for good performance were East Sussex, Kent, Lancashire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Image by mattbuck, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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