Empowering Admissions Staff: The Role of School’s Senior Leadership Team

Will Conolly

Published in Applicaa | March 25, 2024

The more I reflect on my experience working within the education sector, the more I realise just how much the staff behind the scenes – the back office/support/operations staff – are truly the unsung heroes. They’re the first point of contact, the ones who shape those all-important first impressions and open the gates to our schools. It’s incredibly important. And here’s where you – the senior leadership team – come into play; you’ve got a huge part in making sure these individuals feel empowered. But the thing is, what does that empowerment really look like?

Let me share a bit from my own journey. Back when I was working in a school, wearing my senior leader hat, and even now, working alongside many, many schools, I’ve seen firsthand the difference a well-supported admissions team can make.

It’s not just about giving them tasks; it’s about nurturing them, fostering a space where they can thrive and be effective.

Let’s have a look at unpacking what that looks like!

Table of Contents

  • Providing a Helicopter View and Supportive Listening
  • Clarity of Communication and Defined Objectives
  • Providing the Right Tools and Valuing Staff
  • Let’s Talk

Providing a Helicopter View and Supportive Listening

One of the main responsibilities of a school’s senior leadership team is to take a ‘helicopter view’ of processes, and the admissions process is no different.

It’s about stepping back a bit to see the whole picture – the challenges, the details, and everything in between that admissions staff deal with daily. The goal? To offer new perspectives, suggest tweaks here and there, and help make things run smoother while being ready to jump in when problems pop up.

Listening plays a massive part in this. The people working in admissions are not just filling seats; they’ve got years of experience and a huge amount of insight. When senior leaders really listen to what these seasoned pros have to say, it does wonders. It creates an environment of mutual respect and teamwork.

This isn’t about hovering over their shoulders, trying to control every little thing. No, it’s more about being that critical friend who’s there to guide and help, not dictate. It’s a fine balance, but when you get it right, it’s pretty amazing to see how impactful a member of staff who feels valued within their role can go about their work.

Clarity of Communication and Defined Objectives

At the heart of every effective team, there’s one thing you’ll find: excellent communication. And when we’re talking about school admissions, this couldn’t be truer. It falls on the shoulders of the senior leadership team to make sure they’re crystal clear when passing on instructions. This means laying out exactly what needs to be done, when it’s due, and what specific bits of info they need to get the job done right.

So, here are a few questions to mull over:

  • What instructions have you handed down?
  • Got a deadline for that data you’re after?
  • Which pieces of information are absolutely crucial?
  • And what’s the big picture goal here—maybe you’re aiming to bump up those sixth form application numbers or improve the quality of the transition?

All this needs to be shared, but it’s not just about handing out orders.

It’s crucial that the admissions staff understand the ‘why’ behind their tasks. Whether it’s about drawing more students to the sixth form or making the school a bigger part of the local community, these goals and the strategy need to be communicated. When everyone knows what the end game is, they can pull together in the same direction.

It makes all the effort more meaningful and shows in the way they contribute to the school’s mission. It’s about creating that sense of purpose and belonging, and honestly, that’s where the magic happens.

Providing the Right Tools and Valuing Staff

Ever found yourself juggling so many tasks you can’t even catch a breath? Well, that’s a day in the life for many people in school admissions, and it’s up to us – in senior leadership teams – to make sure they’ve got what they need to keep all those balls in the air. We’re living in times where everyone’s talking about workload, there is undoubtedly an acute problem within education. It’s crucial we hand them the kind of tech and tools that take some of the load off.

For someone to feel like they’re actually valued – that’s a big thing for morale and productivity. By bringing in the right tech, we’re not just making their jobs easier; we’re showing our admissions teams we see the hard graft they’re putting in and we appreciate it. But let me tell you, it’s not only about picking any old software off the shelf.

Here’s a bit of wisdom from my own rollercoaster ride: diving into the world of non-traditional platforms can speed the process up but unless it is custom built for the task you are looking to undertake, there will always have to be workarounds. They might promise to make life easier, but sometimes, they just don’t hit the mark for what is needed in a set of complex tasks like school admissions. For example, stumbling upon tools like Applicaa, tailored for the quirks and quibbles of our educational needs, can be a bit of a revelation. It shows that getting it right means really understanding the unique challenges our staff face and supporting them in the best possible way.

Let’s Talk

You know, being part of the senior leadership team is a bit like being a Swiss Army knife for the admissions staff. We’re there to offer a bit of everything – support, clarity, and the tools they need to get the job done. It’s all about laying down a solid foundation for our school’s admissions strategy. When we get it right, everything runs smoother, and the feel around the workplace? It’s positive, productive, and that’s the kind of environment where everyone thrives. Ultimately, that’s what steers the ship towards growth and success.

It’s undoubtedly a team effort. Ensuring that the admissions process runs smoothly and effectively requires everyone pulling in the same direction. It is so satisfying when you see it all come together.

Got any admission challenges you’re wrestling with? Fancy a chat about how to improve things? Drop me a message – I’m all ears and would love to share a few tales from the trenches that might help.

Will Conolly