21st December 2021 All Posts

Highlights from 2021

Just like that, we’re almost at the end of another year – and what a busy, exciting one it’s been for the Connect Childcare team and the wider early years sector.

We’ve worked with so many great customers, industry spokespeople, partners, and journalists to create and share valuable early years insight – creating 102 new blog posts and video interviews alongside our media coverage.

And while it’s been another year of uncertainty with the various challenges created by the pandemic, the early years sector has continued to show real strength and resilience, and we couldn’t be prouder of our staff and customers.

There have been so many key moments worth celebrating over the last 12 months, but here are some of our highlights… 

Celebrating growth

We started the year having secured a £4 million investment from Mobeus Equity Partners to roll out our new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, launch a new streamlined payment offering, accelerate functionality for existing users, and strengthen our sales, marketing, and customer success teams – and we’re happy to report that we’ve achieved it all!

We’ve also boosted our workforce to 71 – taking on 16 new employees in 2021 alone – and we’re looking forward to welcoming more fresh faces to the Connect family during 2022.

Getting ready for the updated EYFS framework

2021 was a milestone year for the early years sector, with the widely anticipated updated EYFS statutory framework coming into force in September. This was a huge focus for the Connect team, as not only did we have to ensure that our software was compatible with both the Development Matters and Birth to 5 Matters guidance documents – which settings were using to help shape their approach – but we launched our EYFS Reforms Hub to share resources and keep customers informed with software releases and FAQs.

We also unveiled our 10-part EYFS blog series, featuring thought-provoking discussions with Beatrice Merrick, chief executive at Early Education and Chair of the Early Years Coalition, who developed Birth to 5 Matters.

We also collaborated with industry experts to create a new Early Years Nutrition Hub – featuring videos, eBooks, blogs, and tips – to help practitioners navigate the often confusing and contradictory advice within the sector.

Delivering a host of webinars

2021 was also the year of the webinar for the Connect family – we’ve delivered an array of online events for early years professionals, linked to the EYFS, sustainability, and more!

Linked to the new EYFS, we hosted a number of online sessions, interviews, and guest articles with contributors such as Sue Asquith, David Wright, June O’ Sullivan, Penny Cartwright, and Jo Caswell

And anyone who knows Connect knows that we’re ‘people people’ and we love supporting our customers. That’s why we also launched our brand-new product workshops to give our clients the first-hand low-down on anything new – such as features and updates – along with tips and advice on how they can best utilise them for maximum benefit to the setting.

Linked to this, we also kickstarted our fortnightly live Q&A sessions, where customers can ask their ‘how to’ question to our software training and development coordinator, Charlotte Woods – which has proved to be really popular!

Making our sustainability pledge

This year, we made a commitment to help promote greater environmental sustainability – pledging to plant 250 trees by July 2022 and creating our own ‘Connect Forest’.

The great news is that we’ve already planted 102 trees across Madagascar, and we aim to have over 250 planted by the end of 2022. So far, we’ve sequestered 30.60 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – the equivalent of 76,904 miles driven by the average UK passenger car!

Receiving award-winning recognition

It’s been a fantastic year for awards for Connect. Firstly, we’re incredibly proud to have been awarded the Best Companies 2 Star Accreditation for demonstrating ‘outstanding’ levels of workplace engagement, and we were also on the final shortlist for the ‘Customer Service’ category in the regional Red Rose Awards.

In addition to our industry accolades, we also achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 98% – which is consistent year on year – and exhibited at lots of face-to-face events up and down the country. It really was great to get back out and about, and we hope to continue this in 2022!

Boosting our technical credentials

At Connect, we’re extremely proud of our technology and we’re always looking for ways to enhance it for the benefit of our customers’ settings, which, in turn, has seen us release 21 software updates throughout the year.

This included launching our new contactless payment feature on ParentZone – which has the lowest transaction fees on the market!

So, what’s next?

We’re incredibly excited to start 2022, as we already have an assortment of activities in the pipeline.

From taking part in some tree planting with Go Outdoors Learning, creating additional advice-led content, and attending even more events – including the Childcare and Education Expo – to creating a hub of eco-activities resources, it’s already shaping up to be a super year.

And, of course, we’ll be upholding our sustained commitment to bringing the latest technological innovations and updates to our customers, to make sure our software continues to meet the needs of modern-day nursery settings.

Christmas opening and closing times for your diary

  • We’ll be closed from Christmas Day until 3rd January
  • Our phone lines will re-open at 8 am on 4th January

However, that doesn’t mean we’re leaving you to it – far from it! As well as our 24/7 helpdesk, which will remain in operation during the Christmas season, you can also still raise support tickets over the festive break, which we’ll respond to as soon as we return. Please email: support@connectchildcare.zendesk.com 

Thank YOU!

We would like to end the year by saying a huge thank you to our amazing nursery and childminder settings, all the parents and children we work with, and friends of the business for your continued support. We’re sure you’re with us when we say, roll on 2022!

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Marketing Lead at Connect Childcare