9th November 2018 All Posts

Empowering Practitioners at Portico

A guest blog from Sarah Fillingham.

It’s been another busy year for Portico Nursery Group, but back in 2015 is where one of our biggest changes began, when we moved from paper learning journeys to iConnect.

One of the biggest priorities for me when finding the right system was that it was very natural and gave us ownership of our practice, and that it allowed us to still be the main decision maker in the process of childrens’ learning and development.

There are so many features in iConnect and because of the great customer focus, the system has grown with us over the last few years. It is so simple and intuitive to use that our practitioners picked it up really quickly, and now train each other as new people join the teams, although the Connect team are always at the end of the phone when we need them. I love the idea of the help desk too, where you can query something really quickly online.

At the same time as searching for an online system we were looking at reducing our planning expectations and using iConnect hasn’t hindered this in any way, rather it has supported us in our aim to take the stress away from practitioners which is what we had hoped for.

With a massive focus on children and practitioners wellbeing over the last couple of years across all our settings, the freedom that using iConnect has given us means that we have been able to have a greater focus on our effective teaching and developing children’s creativity.

Recording what we observe is much quicker and smarter and enables us to have all the information at our fingertips to support the practitioners knowledge of their key children. It also helps us share it much more successfully with parents, and their engagement and what they share with us has grown because of this.

The great thing about iConnect is that although it is a system, you can use the features in ways that tailors it to your needs. It didn’t compromise any of our practice and I love the way you can change wording and headings to the language we use in our settings.

Statement counts help us see what evidence we are gathering, and the next steps feature helps us plan, however, the flexibility of the system means that it doesn’t make decisions for us – our practitioners still have the power to keep it personal for each unique child in the setting.

This is essential if like us you consider where the child’s learning is taking them rather than what a system tells you they should be doing next.

Every early years setting has their own ethos and values, their own ways of doing things, their own expectations about what evidence their practitioners will record, and how they will assess the children in their care.

iConnect has enabled us to continue how we did this manually which has allowed us to keep our own identify and true values, and hasn’t taken any of the credibility away from our experienced practitioners who are still at the very heart of children’s’ learning and development by having the time to be in the moment, and to tune in to children’s needs.

The graphics are very easy to understand and enable you to see progress and attainment really quickly and for managers, the cohort and group tracking helps with team reflection and action planning at the click of a button.

Take a look for yourself and see how iConnect can enable your Practitioners to be more efficient, while preserving your ethos and values.

To find out more about Portico Day Nurseries and the fantastic work they do, check out their website.

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About the Author

Sarah Fillingham is the Area Manager of Portico Day Nurseries' 7 settings. An Early Years Professional with a National Professional Qualification in for Senior Leadership, she has over 25 years experience in Childcare, Sarah supports her Managers and Practitioners to provide consistently high quality childcare.