1st September 2021 All Posts

How can software help with reducing paperwork in line with the EYFS reforms?

How can software help with reducing paperwork in line with the EYFS reforms?

There’s naturally been lots in the early years sector media about the new EYFS reforms – after all, it’s a monumental milestone for the sector.

And one topic that’s been up for discussion has been around time-saving. In fact, you may have heard that one of the key aims of the updated framework – and the government’s Development Matters guidance – is to reduce paperwork to free up more of practitioners’ working hours to dedicate to child development.

But with jam-packed daily schedules – many of which may be paper-based, depending on the setting – just how exactly can you, childcare professionals, shrink your mountain of admin? 

This is where technology should be seen as a trusted friend and an enabler for the sector.

Streamlining the observations process

Whether you’re a nursery manager or practitioner, you have lots of responsibility when it comes to the development of the little ones in your care.

The updated EYFS is therefore aiming to reduce the administration that has previously been associated with observations and learning journals. And instead of being data-driven, child progress and development tracking will now be led more by practitioners’ judgement.

Early years leaders are empowered to use their knowledge and expertise to determine what should be logged. The priority is upon truly knowing the children – noting their achievements and any areas they may need further support, and tailoring activities to meet their individual needs and requirements.

The main takeaway point is that the decision around what does and doesn’t need to be noted lies with the practitioner. If you deem it useful and if it offers valuable insight into how a child is learning and developing, then of course mention it, but don’t feel pressured that everything has to be written down, as Ofsted will not be looking for data-backed observations.

Essentially, under the updated framework, it’s clear that observations must never be seen as a tick-box exercise, they should offer real value – otherwise, they’re not serving their intended purpose.

For settings that are operating using a paper-based method of recording too, making the shift to digital can help to cut down some of those precious minutes usually spent on admin. With everything being accessible on one centralised system – whether observations, registers, invoicing, or parent communications – there’s less room for error and also a reduced risk that a document will be misplaced or lost for good.

But the ‘paperwork debate’ goes way beyond solely observations. 

Paperwork comes in various guises

It’s great that the EYFS reforms are aiming to tackle early years childcare providers’ administrative burden, but this challenge extends beyond observations and into the operational side of the business too.

In order to run like a well-oiled machine, your setting undoubtedly has to have its financial ducks in a row – with a systematic approach to invoicing, chasing payments, and reporting. Staff should also be able to take daily registers, access learning journals, oversee grant funding, manage child contact records, and communicate with parents. This amounts to a lot of cogs that are all whirring at once.

That’s not to say that technology is needed to help with all the above though. Ultimately, it should be implemented to help you tackle the areas that are most challenging – or time-consuming – to your organisation.

Before investing in any tech, the question you need to ask yourself is, ‘what am I trying to improve?’ This will help you to really evaluate which tool and features you need. 

After all, it’s easy to get distracted by the plethora of fancy features a management software solution can offer without ensuring that it’s truly tackling your original requirement. But, in order to ensure your setting reaps the maximum return on investment (ROI), it’s vital to understand why and where you need support.

Some full-time settings, for example, spend an average of 12 hours per week on invoicing and finance tasks – which equates to 600 hours per year – whereas with the right software in place, this can be reduced to 0.4 hours. Others may spend four hours communicating with parents when – with the assistance of technology – this could be reduced to 0.2.

Of course, every environment is different, but the time-savings are all relative and you’ll know in which areas staff are feeling most stretched capacity-wise.

The key is to choose a management software solution that answers a real need within your setting, and if the EYFS reforms are supporting childcare professionals in cutting down the admin, then it might be useful to sense-check any other areas of the business that are admin-heavy and draining time away from child development. 

Technology should and could never replace the sector leaders who have the experience, knowledge, and passion for early years. It can be that trusted friend and burden alleviator that not only supports enhanced child development, but helps your business to remain both sustainable and profitable well into the future.

If you’re keen to find out more about how to calculate what the return on investment would be for your setting, check out our free, downloadable eBook‘calculating return on investment for nursery management software’.

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About the Author

Campaign and Content Manager at Connect Childcare