In a survey we conducted in March, we asked early years providers what their attitude was to using new technology in their setting. The majority – 71% – agreed that they tried to embrace technology whenever possible. However, there were some concerns raised by providers about data protection and keeping children safe whilst using digital devices.
Of course, you’d be right to have concerns. It wasn’t long ago that Cherubs Pre School in Kent was downgraded to ‘inadequate’ because staff were using the setting’s mobile phone to send photos of the children to parents. Their defence was that they actually had parents’ permission to do this, but this did not wash with Ofsted. Clearly, there’s a balance to be struck between using technology to improve the way your setting runs and making sure you adhere to the rules.
So, how can you embrace the use of technology to make your setting more efficient and build a better relationship with parents, whilst also keeping children safe? Here are some suggestions:
- If you use tablets in the learning environment, ensure that staff are fully trained on how to share information securely with parents and colleagues
- Consider having a password protected area on your website which is just for parents, so you can share information which is specifically for them (like your monthly newsletter)
- If you intend to buy new software for use in your nursery, ask your software provider to explain what measures they take to keep personal data safe and secure
- Always get parents’ permission to use images of their child on platforms like your childcare website and social media page
- Outline separate policies at your setting for dealing with different aspects of data protection and safeguarding eg a mobile phone policy, a photograph policy and a use of social networking sites policy
- Make sure your policies and procedures are up to date; ensuring that staff members know exactly what they are and aren’t allowed to do
As long as you adhere to safeguarding protocols, using technology can improve your setting’s relationship with parents by facilitating two-way communication. If you provide mums and dads with a means of catching up with their child’s day whilst they’re already using their mobile phones and iPads, then they’re more likely to engage and interact with the information you’ve provided. So, why not consider using more technology at your provision today?
If you’d like to find out more about using software to strengthen parent partnerships, we can help!