In a short survey conducted at the end of 2020, AMCIS members were asked to reflect on their working life during the coronavirus pandemic. It was very apparent that those working in admissions, marketing and communications, like all those working within the independent sector, had had a very challenging year.
Adapt, adapt and then adapt again was very much the theme of the responses that we received. Members spoke of adapting and conquering Zoom and Microsoft Teams, in double quick time, to produce virtual summer open days that were attended, in some cases, by prospective pupils from around the world — not something that would have happened on a normal Saturday morning event.
Induction days were successfully adapted to online events, with new pupils participating in group acclimatisation activities via video links, meeting fellow pupils and teachers. The biggest challenge, which continues into 2021, was not being able to host on-site visits. With only short windows of time available between lockdowns and other restrictions when prospective families could be shown around campuses, we saw the rise of the “virtual tour”. These came in many different forms but each one was tailored to showcase their school in the best possible way. As the second wave of the virus took a hold during the autumn term, attention turned to scholarship and assessment days and how these could take place.
“Throughout the course of the pandemic, AMCIS members have come together, albeit virtually, in a way I have never seen before.”
Again, normal procedures were adapted, assessment days were hosted online, with Zoom invigilators, and some prospective pupils sat the exams in their current schools. Innovation continues as I write.
Throughout the course of the pandemic AMCIS members have come together, albeit virtually, in a way I have never seen before. The support, encouragement and sharing of ideas and knowledge has, in itself, been unprecedented and humbling. The week-long Admissions Connect Event, attended by record numbers of delegates, included a series of “warts and all” presentations on a range of lockdown events and measures.
A third national lockdown and the closing of schools at the beginning of 2021 brought even more challenges to the AMCIS membership, but we are already seeing the results of the hard work, effort, resilience and adaptability which marked 2020. In many cases, members’ schools are reporting record numbers of enquiries and registrations. Virtual events are continuing, but definitely not replacing the onsite visits, when allowed, but complementing them.
Many members have commented that they find this area of their work, with the new skills required and learnt, exciting and rewarding. The year 2020 was indeed challenging and it is already looking as if 2021 could be equally so, but with the ability to adapt, those challenges can be conquered and we can deliver successful outcomes across the sector.
This article first appears in the termly print edition of School Management Plus.