16th December 2022 Nursery Management Software All Posts

Highlights from Connect Childcare in 2022

Here we are – December already! What a busy and exciting year it’s been for the Connect Childcare team and the wider early years sector. 

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

Getting into the flow of the new EYFS statutory framework

As we carried on adapting our software to meet the changing needs of the sector, the ‘new’ Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework 2021 continued to be a huge focus for the Connect team in the early months of 2022. 

Based on customer feedback from our product workshops, our focus was on ensuring you had all of the tools you needed to provide your teams with visual representations of child development within iConnect. This saw us release 3 updates to our iConnect platform including two brand-new reports, the Event Checker and The Big Picture Report and some additional benefits to the Age and Stage Report.

In addition to this, we helped to celebrate the fantastic work of the Birth to 5 Matters coalition by sponsoring the Birth to 5 Matters Spring Festival. This allowed them to provide further free training and guidance to practitioners on how to help children to live in the complex world of the 21st century. 

Bolstering our security credentials

We take security and data protection very seriously, and we’re always looking for ways to enhance it for the benefit of our customers’ settings. In turn, this has seen us become the only nursery management software provider on the market to be certified for both ISO9001 and 27001. We’ve worked hard towards our ISO 27001 accreditation and it demonstrates that we have defined and put in place best-practice information security processes. If your setting is looking for ways to keep important data safe, take a look at one of our recent blog posts.

Accelerating contactless payments 

The demand for contactless payment solutions rapidly accelerated last year after the spread of Covid, and Connect Cashflow has now become the new norm for our customers.

Over 40 settings and groups are now using our contactless payment solution, processing almost £3.5m via the ParentZone app, as they enjoy the quickest and most affordable way to receive payments from parents.

Our in-app payment solution continues to have the lowest transaction fees on the market with a promo rate of 0.99% + 15p per transaction for the first 6 months and a standard rate of 1.2% + 15p per transaction after that.

Rewarding loyal customers

We put a lot of thought into how we can reward and stay connected with our loyal customers and introduced our brand-new customer loyalty scheme. This fantastic scheme has a point-based system, where you can earn points for completing different loyalty tasks. Each quarter, the customer at the top of the league table will win a bundle of well-being-themed resources, with the first winner due to be announced on Friday 27th January. We already have 474 customer contacts on the loyalty leaderboard!

Bringing together the sector’s expert voices

We’ve worked with so many great customers, industry spokespeople, and partners, to create and share valuable early years insight – creating 175 new articles and 36 free guides across our site in 2022 alone.

We were extremely proud of the launch of The ABC of Early Years Education guide which has seen over 1000 downloads so far. We worked with a catalogue of spokespeople and experts across the sector to cover some of the most prevalent topics facing the country’s early childhood educators. This saw contributions from Alistair Bryce-Clegg, Jennie Johnson, June O’Sullivan, Kathy Brodie, Alison Featherbe, David Wright, and Cheryl Hadland, to name just some of the authors featured.  

We found that one of the key topics continues to be the impact of recruitment and retention challenges on the early years sector, which led to us gathering top tips and resources from a variety of sector voices and launching our very own Early Years Staffing Hub – a free online platform for you to enjoy.

Fulfilling our sustainability pledge

Last year, we committed to helping 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 smashed this target by planting 351 trees via the more:trees scheme, sequestering a total of 105.00 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of an estimated 1,209,600 miles driven by the average UK passenger car.

We even extended our commitment by supporting Go Outdoors Learning, a local forest school, to plant an additional 300 trees as part of the Woodland Trust Free Trees for Schools Scheme. It’s been extremely rewarding to see the impact that our initial pledge has generated, and getting ‘hands-on’ with Go Outdoors Learning has helped to bring it all into focus locally, here in Lancashire. 

Celebrating growth

We’ve boosted our workforce to 77 – taking on 6 new employees in 2022 alone.
We appointed Matthew Kelleher as our chief revenue officer (CRO) in June to help deliver our company’s ambitious growth plans. Matthew is the driving force behind helping our business to treble in size – boosting the number of settings that use our technology from 3,700 currently to over 11,000. 

Matthew is heading up the roll-out of the latest version of foundations to a wider audience. This is the new version of our sector-leading software, set to go live for all new and existing customers in 2023. Thank you to the many clients who have continued to support the development team in bringing Foundations to the market.

Receiving recognition

We see workplace engagement as a vital part of our organisation’s success, so it has been extremely rewarding to be named by Best Companies as one of the UK’s Top 100 Companies to Work For. We’re currently sitting at #89 in the best small company to work for in the UK in Quarter 4 and we achieved a 1-star accreditation in 2022 – meaning we’re officially a ‘Very Good’ Company to Work For.

We also made the final National League Tables of 2022 for the top 50 Best Companies to Work For in the technology sector as well as the final shortlist for the Technology Product of the Year category in the National Nursery Management Today Awards.

Our ParentZone App continues to be the best-rated parent engagement app on the app stores too, with an overall rating of 4.8/5 stars from over 22.5k reviews.

In addition to our industry accolades, we achieved a customer satisfaction rating of 98% – which is consistent year on year. 

Thank YOU!

Whilst Government action still needs to happen to tackle early years underfunding crisis, the early years sector has continued to show real strength and resilience, and we couldn’t be more proud of our people and customers. 

We’re incredibly excited to start 2023, as we already have an assortment of activities in the pipeline. 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 childcare settings.

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 2023!

Christmas opening and closing times for your diary

  • We’ll be closed from Christmas Eve until 2nd January
  • Our phone lines will re-open at 8am on 3rd January

Our 24/7 helpdesk will remain in operation during the Christmas season and you can  raise support tickets over the festive break which we’ll respond to as soon as we return. Please email: support@connectchildcare.zendesk.com

Find out how Connect Childcare gave back to children this Christmas here.

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Marketing Lead at Connect Childcare