Case Study: Connect Childcare Customer
Child-Centred Nurseries numbers five settings in residential areas of Essex, each serving between 35 and 110 children. Until recently, the company was family owned and headquartered in Colchester. Coinciding with the directors’ retirement last year, it’s now part of a group, which has 90 settings in its portfolio.
Many of the managers and team members on board are long-servers who have worked across all of the Child-Centred Nurseries locations, broadening their skills and experience in the process.
Nursery management agree that their biggest challenge across the settings is having the time to do everything. To allow staff to put the children first, it is essential to operate quick and responsive admin systems.
Until 2021, the nurseries were using paper-based learning journeys on the premise that spending time with babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers took priority over record keeping. However, writing extensive notes by hand — plus printing, cutting, and sticking photos — was deceptively time consuming.
Experienced practitioners on the nursery floor were the driving force for change, approaching management about the idea of transitioning to an online system.
The group consulted the requirements and recommendations of education regulator Ofsted, and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework for learning up to the age of five — as well as the Government’s Development Matters principles which guide the curriculum.
Staff also asked for recommendations, around local schools and fellow childcare and early years education establishments. Following this research, Child-Centred Nurseries settled upon Connect Childcare as a partner, and invested in the summer of 2021.
Trials were set up at one setting in June and July, and the full transition occurred in September 2021 — all in line with Government guidance for such a development in ways of working.
Personnel took to Connect’s integrated system straight away, enjoying the user-friendly benefits of ParentZone in particular, with its ability to easily personalise letters to families.
The additional needs (SEND) functionality has proved useful, making childcarers and educators feel ahead of the times in terms of being up to speed with EYFS considerations. All children’s learning journeys can be seen and checked quickly and easily.
Meanwhile, the invoicing element of the system, iConnect, also proved a hit from the off — with Connect’s helpdesk offering reassuring back-up to any staff member requiring assistance in setting up or operating the software.
An additional bonus is a saving on paper and printing, which has been drastically reduced.
Child-Centred Nurseries’ advice to fellow childcare businesses is to do their research before making decisions about functionality required, and who could provide it. Having everything in one place is hugely supporting for staff — and delivers the instant updates and flow of information that families want, and expect.
Crucially, because admin is routinely handled more quickly, team members can maximise their face to face time with children, which after all is the company’s over-arching priority.