Case study: Blackberry House Day Nursery
Blackberry House Day Nursery was established in 2002 – then known as Blackberry Farm – by the nursery group’s founder, Deborah Hutler. Over the years, the number of sites has grown and today the group has a total of three settings in Cambridgeshire – in the Wisbech, March, and Peterborough areas.
Bradley Hutler – Deborah’s son – is now operations director and works together with his mum and the wider Blackberry House Day Nursery team to deliver high-quality early years education provision in the south of England.
The group prides itself on its family ethos and high team morale – delivering a safe, inspiring, and stimulating environment for children in which they are nurtured to reach their potential.
The setting also aims to develop and enrich children’s learning outside of the classroom – with a nature garden and on-site woodland areas, this is where children can enjoy and explore the outdoors.
Due to the acquisition of more sites and growth of the group, Bradley and Deborah decided to explore the option of nursery management software at Blackberry House Day Nursery.
Previously, their operations were predominantly paper-based, and they wanted to centralise these admin-intensive processes. In addition, with more sites on the roster, they also wanted a solution that would allow them to consolidate data and give them maximum visibility over this information.
For 18 months, the team researched the options available, trialling three software providers, to try and find which best fit how they operated. Ultimately, they wanted a solution they could have a say in and design to their own bespoke needs – not a one-size-fits-all product that required them to change how they did things.
They also sought a system that would not only allow them to save on admin time – shifting away from multiple Excel documents for child progress tracking and development – but one which also provided peace of mind that their data was safe.
As a result of the transition, management staff at Blackberry House Day Nursery can now add children’s moments at the click of a button – adding detail and photos – and efficiently communicate with parents.
It has also improved the two-way conversation with families. ParentZone allows Blackberry House practitioners and parents to share children’s daily activities and ‘wow moments’ – bridging the gap and creating a more holistic approach to the child’s development. Relationships with each family have also improved, as a result.
Regarding employee training and development too, the setting has also found that the software has helped with supporting staff. The management team no longer needs to manually look through the filing cabinet to review completed paperwork, this can be done online – offering the ability to provide prompt feedback to educators.
An additional key benefit is that the management team can add access restrictions to differing levels of authority throughout the business. This is not only a useful data protection measure, but it also helps with quality monitoring – ensuring junior staff’s posts are checked before being uploaded and sent to parents.
Overall, the investment has not only streamlined and joined up the data and processes across the group’s three sites, but it has saved financial, operational, and environmental resources as a result.