The Sorting Hat is Here!

Jeff Clark

Published in Applicaa | January 3, 2023

The Sorting Hat

Happy New Year to you all!

Why not kick start 2023 with a renewed vigour in admissions and retention?

Here at Applicaa we are always working on improving our products and at the end of last year we launched 2 great updates for all of you managing Year 7 transition!

  • The Sorting Hat
  • The Transition Tool

The Sorting Hat

The Sorting HatOne thing that happens in schools in late Summer is that new students need to be placed into registration or ‘form’ groups.

Whilst it’s possible to randomly throw students into groups, most schools actually spend a fair amount of time trying to make sure these groups are as good as possible.

Whilst you may start out with a list of ‘students who must be kept apart’, or ‘students who should be in the same group’, if these lists start to have more than a few students on them, you run the risk of starting to create some ‘imbalanced’ groups where they suddenly aren’t gender-balanced, or the ethnic spread of your intake isn’t the way you want them.

You may have some tutors who are viewed as ‘stronger’ for helping students with certain needs and so you may want to put particular students in their groups. Because I’ve had to do this for several years using lots of spreadsheets and pivot tables, we’ve created the new “Sorting Hat” feature, which helps take out the hard part of creating these balanced groups.

You can now set some ‘fixed’ requirements, and then with a press of the button, the ‘Sorting Hat’ will make sure the rest of the students are evenly distributed across your groups.

We’re hoping that when the time comes to use it later this Summer you’ll find this very useful indeed and it will be especially useful for schools that use Admissions+ for Year 7 enrolment, because the system will automatically know about your intake, so there won’t be any need to key in your student’s names/gender/ethnicity when setting it up.

New Student Transition Tool

Year 7For those of you that use our product, you already know we can securely send requests to referees of applicants to Sixth Form to gather more information about the students. I started to wonder if this could be used to find out information about new students joining schools – either in September as Year 7 or Year 12’s, or even for in-year applicants.

This came from personal experience seeing how the best-laid plans of Assistant Headteachers tasked with ensuring a smooth transition into secondary often hit the rocks – either because of the pandemic, or more common issues such as a simple lack of time to go and visit all the feeder schools.

I remember with some fondness a former colleague, who was a delightful Head of Year 7, would come in with a big stack of notes about new students joining the school hoping I could disseminate them to their September teachers. Sometimes student names would be missing or illegible. 

Then inevitably, over the summer, things change and students change. Did I inform the right science teacher about the student with a fear of insects?

Because I used SIMS on a day-to-day basis as Data Manager, I wondered if there couldn’t be an easy way for teachers at a previous school to type in comments about a new student’s abilities (and arachnophobia!) that could be automatically written into SIMS. Then Year 7 teachers could see an unfiltered view from former teachers, even if they weren’t from your own school!

You can now automatically send a message to a student’s previous school which they open and a referee can write a few lines about a student’s performance, so can the former teacher, and through the use of mark sheets tied to new classes in SIMS, these can easily be made available for their new teachers to read…amazing!

We’re hoping that schools find this useful, and perhaps in a few years, this might end up becoming an easy way for reports on students to ‘follow’ them from one school to the next. We now have schools using this and are eagerly awaiting their feedback so make it even slicker! 

If you have ideas of what we can build for you to make your jobs easier please let us know! For more information please visit

Jeff Clark
Jeff Clark

I joined Applicaa in January 2022 as a Product Manager, tasked with building new features that make the software ever more useful to our customers. Before working at Applicaa, I have worked in both the IT and Education sectors: In IT I have worked for software developers to help them build and configure systems that are useful for staff, and in the Education sector, I worked as both a teacher of Science & Psychology for 15 years, but also in roles overseeing school MIS systems, exams, timetabling and school network administration.