The education technology company Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB, which owns the domain name mittskolval.se (my school choice), has created a portal service for municipalities to simplify the procedure for choosing a primary school. Järfälla, a municipality north of Stockholm, was the first municipality to implement the school choice for children, starting from pre-school. This year, another five municipalities have joined. “We have developed a modern application and admission system with an underlying map service that automates the entire school application process,” says Dany Kessel, CEO of Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB.
Until last year, Järfälla municipality, to a large extent, worked manually with the elementary school elections. They had a student management system with a module where parents could log in and choose three different schools. Measurements of distance to school that determined which pupil had priority to which school were carried out manually. The schools then took charge of the administration with support from the municipality management in complicated situations. “It was a difficult and time-consuming process,” says Sandra Backlund, investigator at Järfälla Municipality.
Digital applications have increased by 15 percent
The new “My School Choice” system is designed to allow parents to easily log in to an e-service and register. When the parents’ choices have been collected, the underlying map service of the system calculates based on the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) the distance between the student’s home and school, which determines which pupils take precedence over the different schools. An algorithm is then run to place the students in the preferred schools while respecting the proximity principle. “We first saw a need to automate the process, saving time and becoming more confident with this type of solution. Järfälla Municipality was the first municipality to choose our solution, which we are very pleased with. The system has contributed to an increase in digital applications to the municipality’s schools from 76 to 87 percent and of course, we want many more municipalities to experience the same development,” says Dany Kessel, CEO Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB.
Like most municipalities, Järfälla Municipality had systems that were not optimal for managing the applications and placements of pupils at elementary schools. School elections must be fair, transparent and legally compliant. Systems that are not thought through can lead to extensive extra work, confusion among students and parents and, in the worst-case scenario, unintended breaking of school laws. “We know that our system now meets the requirements and we are very pleased with the service,” says Sandra Backlund.
Nexus GO service set up within a couple of hours
The Nexus cloud service has allowed parents of children in Järfälla Municipality to easily log in with Swedish BankID (strong authentication method) in the “My School Selection” system and apply for a place in pre-school class or grade 6 for their child. “This is a research project with limited resources, we are only four people. I set up the login myself, that was easy. We looked at some different services, but Nexus GO Authentication with Swedish BankID as the authentication method was affordable and very easy to use – it took only a few hours to implement it in a protected testing environment at Järfälla Kommun,” says Joel Smedberg, CTO at Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB.
Behind the portal mittskolval.se, lie years of research. Elisabet Olme and Dany Kessel, both economics graduates, have specialized in school choice and in the kind of system support that is best suited to it. They found that 100-130 municipalities in Sweden need better system support for school elections. Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB, has developed a product that helps municipalities digitize the school application process. The municipalities save both time and money and make it easier for citizens to seek school using the system. “Until this year we have developed an interface that allows municipalities and independent schools to individually manage the administration of the school elections and to follow the results. Another five municipalities have now applied for the service, our hope is that all municipalities will be using the service by next year, “says Dany Kessel, CEO at Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB.
Photo: Dany Kessel, CEO at Svensk Utbildningsteknologi AB