Case Study: The Spinney Day Nursery Ltd
The Spinney Day Nursery Ltd is an independent, family-owned business with two settings in Chester and Pulford, offering a combined capacity of 99. Services include nursery, preschool and forest school as well as breakfast, after-school and holiday clubs. Established 25 years ago, the company puts particular emphasis on fostering professional self esteem for employees. Its childcare practitioners are trained to a minimum of Early Years NVQ Level 3.
The business moved its systems to Connect Childcare back in 2017 and currently operates both iConnect and ParentZone. The two settings had previously used a simplistic, secure database system in their backroom functions, heavily supplemented with paper. While families’ details were held electronically, their bills were calculated manually. Though migration was seen as an investment, requiring careful training of staff, this has certainly paid off, for example in the ability to interrogate data across both sites to monitor, as well as occupancy levels and effectiveness of marketing activity. Management admit they used to ‘hold a wet finger in the air’ to identify trends. Now they always have reliable figures to hand, to inform their decisions.
While Connect’s capabilities are sophisticated, the key for The Spinney Day Nursery was keeping things simple and encouraging staff to concentrate on the elements of the functionality relevant to them. At the outset, inhouse training sessions were held, with and without Connect’s personnel, and briefings continue to be held where helpful, as usage evolves and new staff come on board. The business sees Connect as a dynamic tool that does not stand still and can always offer more. Because The Spinney works hard to enhance team members’ professional self-esteem, as part of a forward-looking culture with a clear and compelling purpose, they were well placed to move out of their comfort zones to embrace the new technology.
Before Connect, a disproportionate amount of childcare practitioner time was spent creating learning journeys in folders. Now, electronic learning journeys in ParentZone are far more interactive and accessible to all-encompassing, too, updates from families about weekend activities, and therefore offering a richer overall picture of a child’s development. Experiences in the nursery can be tracked against EYFS requirements, highlighting any deficits that can be quickly acted upon. For busy parents, reassurance that their child is happy and occupied in fun, engaging activities, can be provided via real-time updates. Information that can easily be accessed electronically has also eased stress at inspection time, providing answers to unexpected questions from Ofsted, that in the past would have led to a paper chase to locate the specific facts and figures required