Headlines: September 20th, 2005

Bristol city council is urging parents and carers of children who are due to start new schools next September to use new electronic services – and as an incentive the authority will make donations to a charity.The deadline for applications for school places is October 21st and as it approaches the council is urging parents to apply online, using a special area of the Local Education Authority’s website. To further encourage them to abandon the paper-based system, the council has pledged to make a donation to the children’s charity Barnardo’s for each online application. The money will come from specially allocated central Government funds.

The council says the eAdmissions system has a number of benefits. It is quick and easy to use and includes help for parents to check for any mistakes in completing the form, it offers parents an email confirmation that their application has been received, it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it allows details to be changed until the closing date. The city council has also given assurances that the system’s security procedures prevent anyone else seeing any confidential information.

It is still possible to make paper applications but the authority says more and more parents and carers are turning to electronic applications, which is the method it prefers. Councillor Jos Clark, executive member for children’s services, in Bristol said, “Online school admissions are quick, easy and efficient. Parents and carers of primary and secondary school pupils should be reassured in the knowledge that this system is secure and their application will arrive quickly.”

Families without access to their own computers can use machines that are available free in libraries. Some schools are also allowing parents to use their online facilities. This is the third year that the eAdmissions system has been available and as well as making the Barnardo’s donations to persuade parents to use it, the council has also launched a month-long bus poster campaign.