Case Study: The Oaks Childcare CIC
Twenty years ago, The Oaks Childcare was set up by a group of parents, clubbing together to provide after-school care for pupils of Mortimer St John’s Infant School, near Reading, in Berkshire.
The first decade for the setting saw it expand to welcome junior school children, then start a breakfast club. In 2015, soon after a school in a neighbouring village approached leaders, asking if a club could be run there too, it was time to take the leap from a band of volunteers to a Community Interest Company (CIC).
This status is still very much in tune with the founders’ original ethos of community collaboration, as well as offering security for the years ahead.
Today, around 40 staff members – who enjoy high-quality, flexible working opportunities – are employed in nine clubs and a preschool, across four villages. In 2022, in response to parent demand, The Oaks also started to offer holiday clubs. Any surplus funds are reinvested into equipment, or training and development opportunities.
Investment in nursery management software was driven by a need to move away from handwritten lists, supplemented by various Word and Excel documents – all holding vital information. The Oaks – that serves over 400 children now – needed its data in one, secure place, and so Connect Childcare was enlisted.
Connect Childcare has supported the nursery’s growth allowing them to add sites when they needed to, and to help manage their new and busy holiday clubs.
One of the nursery’s biggest challenges is the number of ad-hoc bookings it receives, but Connect can handle this, and its streamlined functionality makes the team’s job much easier.
Connect’s technology provides the team at The Oaks with very helpful support. They appreciate the flexibility of being able to access the software from wherever they are and the ParentZone app has become important for its preschool, too.
Opening its preschool in September 2021 led to The Oaks using more of Connect’s versatile features, but there’s still plenty more functionality for the setting to explore. For example, the nursery wants to move towards logging incidents through Connect and managing its payroll.
The Oaks also intends to use the software to track and support development, for its staff – many of whom have served the setting loyally for many years.