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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

Should we reinvent the wheel of school admissions?

My first answer was no. But now I am not so sure.

There appear to be at least two sides to this tale.

Heads We know that many of our schools suffer from siloed activities and, as Kevin Bartlett once helpfully pointed out, we need to "stop wasting time and energy on work that we’ve all done before."

Take, for example, something as simple as your school's student application form.

We know that 90% of the student data we require at the point of admission is exactly the same as in every international school in the world. How many of us, however, have wasted time creating or recreating this process for our school?

And what about the user experience we give to the families that are applying to our schools? Surely, we should be imagining a future in which we create a kind of School Passport for families that can be updated over time; a common application form that is accepted the world over that travels with our globally mobile families?

Common application systems do exist (This one, for example, by The Enrollment Management Association). We just need, as school leaders, once and for all to make this a priority and agree to focus on improving the user experience of families transitioning between our schools.

Imagine showing the evolution of the wheel across time
Even the wheel needs to be reinvented from time to time.

Tails There is a flip side. And it's captured by an article written by John Nicholson back in 1990. Writing in The New Scientist, Nicholson's point was simple: we go around talking about not reinventing the wheel, but in fact innovation is all about rethinking what is commonplace.

Despite our failure to collaborate on forms, the "wheel" of admissions is pretty standardized these days. But now I am thinking that we shouldn't too quickly assume that what we already have in place isn't worth rethinking altogether.

For example, should we really still be basing our admissions decisions on report cards and school questionnaires?

Answers on a postcard (or comments below).

Or let's just flip a coin.

POSTSCRIPT: To move this conversation forward, I've created a short 3 minute survey. Please consider submitting your thoughts.

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