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A more efficient school admissions process with OS data

Each year the school admissions team at Rochdale Borough Council allocates pupils with a place at one of the 69 schools in the area. In the past this has been a lengthy process. Yet by using OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network (ITN) Layer and associated data, the admissions team reduced the time calculating the distance between pupils’ homes and schools by 97%.

What were the challenges?

  • Dealing with applications for each of 39 community primary and voluntary controlled schools in the council area.
  • Processing an average 70 applications for each school.
  • Calculating the distance from each pupil’s address to the preference school and the next nearest school (previously this had been done manually, taking more than 82 hours to complete).
  • Also calculating distances between home and schools whose governors decide who can be offered places. The average number of applications for each of those 30 schools is 77, taking an additional 42 hours to process.
  • Footpaths were not included in the analysis – sometimes inflating the distance from the pupil’s address to school which could be crucial when offering places.

What was the solution?

Using OS data provided under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) and working with its technology partner, Higher Mapping Solutions, the council introduced RouteFinder for MapInfo in their admissions team.

Once the appropriate school and pupil data is inputted, the batch processing reduced the overall time taken for the calculations from 124 hours to less than four hours. This time saving has been a considerable help to the Authority in meeting the deadlines for the allocation of school places, including the co-ordination of school place offers with other Authorities and schools. This same benefit applies to applications for secondary school places!

Chris Swift, Rochdale Borough Council, School Planning & Organisation Manager

The software is linked to the council’s pupil database, the Capita ONE system and can automatically determine the distance between home and school, among other things in a simple one-off batch process. The software used the OS MasterMap® Integrated Transport Network™ (ITN) Layer and associated data from the ITN Urban Paths Theme, along with high resolution aerial photography and council held streetlight information, so that only safe routes for pupils were included in the analysis.

What were the outcomes?

  • Calculating the distance between pupils’ homes and schools for all of the applications has been cut from 124 hours to under four hours – a reduction of 97%.
  • Integrating ITN Urban Paths with the ITN Layer Road Network has improved the accuracy in calculating the distance between pupils’ addresses and schools.
  • Results are more reliable, showing sound basis for decisions under scrutiny.
  • Using the road network data under the PSMA and the routing software, there’s potential for other applications such as eligibility of pupils for school bus passes; and provision of special educational needs transport.

The products used

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