Parents worry about whether their kid will get into the right school, making sure they understand the application process and not missing deadlines. School principals and staff worry about having too few enrolments (and perhaps having to lay off staff) or being over-subscribed and having to expend significant resources dealing with anxious parents who miss out.
The Victoria Government now has an excellent website - https://www.findmyschool.vic.gov.au/ - that provides clear guidance on whether a child is elgible to attend a school, the criteria that underpins that decision and the appeal process. The centrepiece is a form where parents type in their address and can see the primary, secondary or special school in their designated neighbourhood.
However, the website doesn't resolve the issues of parents 'school shopping', the desire to find the 'best' school (say based on schools' Naplan or ATAR rankings which various websites and media are happy to offer) rather than accept that the local school is where their child should attend.
We believe that to overcome this 'ranking' focus, schools need to deepen their relationship with parents and influencers (the wider community) in their zone ideally well before the parents are at the stage of choosing a school. We want parents to really bond with their school, and that the designated school become the school of choice.
We believe data has a role to play. Schools that have good intelligence on their catchment area can own the zone. Knowing the population, number of kids, religious institutions, volunteer groups and so on can help the schools engage with that zone.
Unfortunately, although there is a wealth of data out there, the sample area is never the school zone. With school zones crossing postcodes and suburbs, data at this level is very inaccurate, even if schools could easily find it.
Our solution, Schools in the hood, will provide lots of data groups, filtered by relevant school zone. All this happens in the back end using our own api. The school can access the data on a website tailored to their school. The website will have other functionality as well.