Five Good Reasons Why Nurseries Should Confine Paper Records to a Filing Cabinet labelled ‘The Past’
The majority of early years settings are slowly but surely moving away from paper-based record keeping, in favour of electronic, web-based systems much more fitting for 21st century business.
But did you know that almost half (45.3%) of key personnel continue to log incidents on paper, for example in an accident book?
Our recent cyber security survey with insurance specialists dot2dot revealed some old habits like this one can be hard to break.
However, we assert that now is the time to confine paper records to a filing cabinet marked ‘The Past’. Here are five good reasons to move on from any form of physical logs, ledgers, files, and forms.
Don’t use it — and you won’t lose it
Online records are only as good as the data that is entered, we admit. But it’s a lot harder to lose a document on a secure and searchable electronic system than it is to misplace a battered lever arch folder containing the one existing copy of a plethora of vital information.
The whereabouts of missing paper files can be a huge source of stress — and even unhelpful accusation — especially at inspection time. Did someone take it home to update? Did it get left in the cafe across the road? Is it in the toddler room covered in poster paint and crayon?
We won’t start on the implications of sensitive information left out on desks under just a clipboard cover, or perhaps even pinned to a noticeboard. We say, if you don’t use paper you cannot lose it.
Printing and ink is expensive
Back in 2021, the BBC website ran a story about the staggering price of printer ink — more expensive than champagne, apparently — and like everything else it has certainly gone up since then.
Anyone who has ever run an office, or indeed worked in one, will know that printers themselves are not only costly to purchase or rent, but temperamental — prone to jamming and the need for a tricky cartridge change in sometimes the most inopportune of moments.
Predictably, the price of paper, too , has risen sharply with supply problems, shortages of materials, higher energy costs, disrupted global markets, and other factors sharing the blame. The lion’s share of such expense can be avoided if far less paper is used.
No-one appreciates slow service
Nurseries upgrading their integrated, online systems are usually thinking about the need to move on from paper files and excessive printing, as discussed, when they make the leap to a service such as Connect’s.
A pleasing and very welcome knock-on effect of going digital is usually that admin processes are speeded up. When things happen quickly, whole settings benefit — from the staff keen to see their holiday request signed off, allowing them to go ahead and book their getaway, to parents treated to regular photos and video clips of their child’s busy day.
Such procedures are invariably slower when handled manually, on paper.
Families don’t want to paper chase
The matter of parent communications leads us on to a misplaced reason for hanging on to paper. Sometimes settings feel that families are happier being handed a letter or a form to fill in, and will baulk at the idea of being invited to read about something, or input information, via an app.
But increasingly, tech-savvy parents expect to do it online. Most adults live their admin lives through apps — from work HR systems to banking, to leisure bookings … even the simple stuff like car parking — and want this from their nursery, too.
The days of fishing out days-old, crumpled, damp, and ripped letters from children’s bags, to find out what’s happening, should really be over.
Paper is precious – and best saved for creative uses
We love paper. A vital commodity made from natural raw materials (trees), it has a myriad of wonderful, creative, potential uses.
So let’s save it for where it is most needed. In a nursery that might be drawing, painting, cutting out and sticking — making paper planes, party hats, or origami birds!
While forest schools in particular know that paper isn’t the only material for mark-making — beautiful, temporary art can be made with sticks, stones, leaves, and shells out in the woods or on the beach — this precious and versatile resource should be cherished.
That means never using a humble sheet of A4 to write an accident report on again.