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Essential steps to choosing the right nursery management software for your setting

Essential steps to choosing the right nursery management software for your setting

Nursery management software is an exciting but daunting thought. You know you need to embrace technology, go paperless and enter the world of nursery management software. You understand the need to “go digital” to allow yourself and your staff the freedom to be able to spend more time doing the job you and they are so passionate about instead of spending hours completing the paperwork that is essential to running a successful nursery.  But the inevitable task ahead seems so overwhelming! Allan Presland, CEO of Parenta, compiled his top tips to help you choose the right software for your setting.

What benefits would a nursery management software system bring to your setting?

Anything you can do to reduce time spent on lengthy admin tasks, enabling you to have an instant insight into the many areas of your business will benefit. If you’re currently using traditional methods of data admin and manually filing reports in your setting, then going digital will certainly save you a lot of time in the future. When Parenta conducted its National Childcare Survey, customers said that since installing Abacus Nursery Management software, its planning and preparation time had reduced by an incredible 50%!

Affordability vs. long-term gain

Purchasing any piece of software can be costly. However, when it comes to buying nursery management software, consider what the long term ‘return on investment’ potential will be. If it’s going to save you time and money in the long run, then it could be a great financial investment for your business - many even come with their own payment plans. Nursery management software is designed to help you manage and organise every aspect of your setting including invoicing, staff rotas and timetables, tracking the children’s progress and securely holding sensitive data - eradicating lengthy admin tasks. So, if you and your staff are saving valuable time, money and resources you can focus on what really matters - the children.

Research!

A simple on-line search will result in a multitude of nursery management software companies offering what at first glance seems to be “much of a muchness”. Many software systems will offer similar packages and features, so we recommend that you invest some time into researching various providers.  Find out who their customers are and if they have a wealth of experience in the sector. Look for a company that is well established, with a good reputation and credit rating, has positive customer feedback and places customer experience at the forefront of its company values.

What are the company’s policies on data protection and storage?

If you choose to invest in nursery management software, it’s best to pick a company that is up to date with the latest government legislation and requirements, especially with the new GDPR regulations that came into effect recently. Look at their website for news and updates. This will give you a good indication as to how professional they are and how seriously they take data security. Look at things like how and where your data will be stored and hosted, how often it is backed up and look for confirmation of ISO accreditation which is the international standard in information security management. All of these things will give you peace of mind with regards to cyber security and help you make the right choice.

Capability

Due to Ofsted requirements, as part of the EYFS Statutory Framework you’re required to keep a record of each child’s development - so do look out for nursery management software that makes it quicker for you to identify where each child is in their own development pathway, by linking your observations directly to an online portal that meets the EYFS curriculum requirements. Safeguarding forms a substantial part of day-to-day life in your setting, so a package that gives you clear visibility on things like staff ratios and each child’s individual profile (which would include allergies etc.) is vital.

It’s also incredibly important to be able to see at a glance two important variables within your business: Gaps in staffing and capacity within your setting. Look out for software that allows you to quickly identify these elements of your business – this can help you to decide when to place an advert or do a local leaflet drop if capacity is low and also when to advertise for vacancies, even at short notice.

Embrace the change!

Any new system brings change. Initially, all of your data will need to be uploaded into a new system which at first glance may seem like a huge task but try and remain focused on the long term benefits.  All reputable providers will allocate a dedicated account manager and customer care team to you who will be on hand to assist with that initial migration of information, all of which should be included in the initial set up cost.  The majority of software these days is hosted online, and will be tailor made to your needs. Look out for offers that guarantee your money back if you are not happy with the system.

Most software companies will provide demos. It’s recommended that you use this demo time as a key part of your research. How helpful and insightful is the demo? Are you receiving fantastic customer service? Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!

The amount of data that the software can handle (both now and in the future) is quite important, especially if you envisage your setting will grow in size. Ask in more detail about how the software is updated to meet specific changes to legislation and whether this holds any additional costs.

Training

It’s important to understand how the system is actually going to work on a day-to-day basis and how you can get the most out of your chosen software to enable you to use it to its full potential.  Make sure you chose a provider who will offer you a comprehensive training package and not just take your money and run! Ask if there is a limit to amount of training they provide or if there is any additional charges for training.

Look for phrases like “unlimited, free of charge training” which in some cases could include up to 12 hours a day of phone support, face to face training, online video training, or even screen sharing training which is a blessing when trying to navigate your way around a new software system. Ongoing training, not just for the initial set up is always helpful, so choose a provider that is happy to continue free of charge training even after the initial period.

Reporting

The subject of reporting is one that is often cited as being the most time consuming and therefore frustrating in this industry.  It is key to choose a system that allows you to run reports on every aspect of the business to ensure nothing gets forgotten.  Running a report that gives you a quick snapshot of room capacity, staff ratios, registers or dietary requirements is just as important as running full, comprehensive and detailed reports on specific data e.g. outstanding payments, free entitlement allocation, registers, milk or occupancy.

Any setting will need to report on its profitability status at some point during the financial year, therefore detailed present and future financial reporting is fundamental.  Reports such as ‘aged-balance reports’ and ‘future fee predictions’ which sound intimidating but can be run with minimal effort and provide you with significant insights into the financial efficiency of your nursery. Within a matter of minutes, you can discover how much revenue your nursery will generate over a period of up to a year, based on your current occupancy – giving you the tools to guide you through any future decisions relating to the management of your childcare setting.

If you are one of the many childcare providers who struggle to recover nursery fees, look for software that is integrated with a ‘fee collection’ option which effectively enables parents to pay their nursery fees to you every month via Direct Debit, allowing the software provider to chase any outstanding fees, not you.  This way, you can keep your administration completely separate from the everyday care of the children, avoiding any potential breakdown in relationships you’ve worked hard to build with parents.

Many of our customers say they save on average, 5 days a month on invoicing, when they move from a paper-based system to Abacus. That’s 3 working months a year more to spend on the things that matter to you, like providing great childcare.

Upgrades

The digital world is moving at a fast pace and the majority of software on the market will consist of different elements, which can become out of date in time.  Ensure you pick a provider that will offer you not only an in-house development team dedicated to adding new features as older versions become out of date but one that will provide and install these essential upgrades free of charge!

If you want to spend more hours with the children in your setting and find that administration tasks cut into this precious time, the nursery management software from Parenta will provide you with the ideal solution.  Designed for use by all childcare providers, from small pre-schools to larger settings and nursery chains, Abacus simplifies your administration tasks into one easy-to-use system. With their system you get everything you will need including a complete management systems for invoicing, registers, financial reports, EYFS tracker, daily diaries as well as a parent communication app and so much more.

All-Inclusive Early Years Software - Limited Offer!

Choose Parenta's All-Inclusive Early Years Software and cut your nursery admin time in HALF.

Better yet! Become a Parenta software customer and receive a FREE laptop and tablet for your early years setting! (T&Cs Apply).

With this offer, you can use the FREE tablet in your rooms for easy EYFS observations wherever you are. 

There's more! Try our software RISK-FREE with our 30-day money back guarantee. If you're not happy, we'll refund you in full.

This offer is limited to the first 50 new customers so hurry up and get in touch with just a few clicks!

All-Inclusive Early Years Software - Limited Offer!

Choose Parenta's All-Inclusive Early Years Software and cut your nursery admin time in HALF.

Better yet! Become a Parenta software customer and receive a FREE laptop and tablet for your early years setting! (T&Cs Apply).

With this offer, you can use the FREE tablet in your rooms for easy EYFS observations wherever you are. 

There's more! Try our software RISK-FREE with our 30-day money back guarantee. If you're not happy, we'll refund you in full.

This offer is limited to the first 50 new customers so hurry up and get in touch with just a few clicks!

All-Inclusive Early Years Software - Limited Offer!

Choose Parenta's All-Inclusive Early Years Software and cut your nursery admin time in HALF.

Better yet! Become a Parenta software customer and receive a FREE laptop and tablet for your early years setting! (T&Cs Apply).

With this offer, you can use the FREE tablet in your rooms for easy EYFS observations wherever you are. 

There's more! Try our software RISK-FREE with our 30-day money back guarantee. If you're not happy, we'll refund you in full.

This offer is limited to the first 50 new customers so hurry up and get in touch with just a few clicks!

ICP Nurseries selected as the Apprentice Employer of the Year 2020

ICP Nurseries selected as the Apprentice Employer of the Year 2020

Press release from ICP Nurseries.

ICP Nurseries are thrilled to announce they have been selected as the Apprentice Employer of the Year 2020 by Eden Training Solutions. ICP Nurseries have been recognised for their commitment to training and career progression and their contribution to creating development programmes, such as ICP’s Leaders of the Future award.

Tracey Storey, CEO of ICP Nurseries expressed how “I have a huge passion for training, development and career progression and want all our staff to have access to excellent study programmes – which we have with Eden Training -  so I am absolutely thrilled for the Company to be recognised for its contribution in this key area.”

ICP Nurseries recently celebrated National Apprenticeship week where they used the time to recognise and applaud apprenticeship success stories across the company. They value greatly the level 2 and level 3 childcare qualifications that Eden Training currently offer to over 50 of their staff.

To find out more information about ICP nurseries or Eden Training please visit : icpnurseries.com or www.eden-ts.com.

 

An extra year given to schools for Ofsted’s new EIF

An extra year given to schools for Ofsted’s new EIF

Schools have been told they have an extra year to bring their curriculum into line with Ofsted’s new inspection framework, after it announced an extension to its transition period.

The new framework, which places greater emphasis on curriculum content and less on outcomes, came into effect in September 2019. But Ofsted allowed for a 12 month transition period so that schools can be judged on the fact that they are currently in a phase of implementing the curriculum changes, as opposed to being judged on being fully ready. This means that school’s which have plans in place to review their curriculum in line with the new EIF and can demonstrate “genuine action” to do so are not penalised.

Ofsted’s national director of education Sean Harford has now revealed that this ‘grace’ period will be extended for another year, meaning schools will have this protection until July 2021.

Schools can still adopt the revised early years goals (EYG) in the EYFS a year before early years settings - from September 2020.

In his blog post last Thursday, 13th February he wrote: “We know that a great curriculum does not just appear perfectly formed overnight. It takes a great deal of thought, preparation and work to plan it. I’m also aware, through conversations with the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers, that some heads and senior leaders are concerned about getting their curriculum to where they want it to be by this coming September. Some schools are further along their curriculum journey than others.

The decision follows a fierce backlash against the new framework, which heads say penalises schools that have difficult intakes.

Source: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/ofsted-extends-curriculum-grace-period-for-a-year/

 

Summer-born children struggling with basic key skills

Summer-born children struggling with basic key skills

Although not a new notion, early years experts have said that there is now a “wealth of evidence” that a child’s month of birth has an impact on academic grades and sporting achievements.

The latest Department for Education (DfE) data shows that in 2019, 62% of children in England born between May and August had a “good level of development” based on teacher assessment at the end of their first year at school – meaning 38% did not reach this level.

A “good level of development” means they were reaching the level expected of them in their communication and language skills, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy and maths.

In comparison, 81% of their classmates born between September and December had a good level of development – a 19 percentage point gap.

The statistics also show that 61% of summer-born children were achieving the expected level in all the early learning goals, compared with 79% of those born in the autumn (a gap of 18 percentage points).

A Department for Education spokesman said it is “perfectly normal to see younger children performing less well in early years”, adding that evidence shows these children make faster progress, with the gap narrowing as youngsters move up through primary school.

Source: https://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/summer-born-children-more-likely-to-struggle-with-basic-skills-figures-suggest-11364428938553

 

Gillian Keegan appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education

Gillian Keegan appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education

Following the recent Cabinet reshuffle which saw Gavin Williamson hold on to his position of Education Minister, last Friday (14th February) Gillian Keegan was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education - with a likely remit of Apprenticeships and Skills.

Gillian has had a lifelong passion for Apprenticeships and Skills, is a former apprentice herself and is the first degree level apprentice in the House of Commons.

Education Secretary will advise his daughters to consider an apprenticeship

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has revealed that he will urge his children to do an apprenticeship instead of paying £9000-a-year for a university degree, insisting he would not necessarily point daughters Annabel, 15, and Grace, 13, towards higher education.

Speaking during National Apprenticeship week, he said that he believes there are too many stereotypical opinions about vocational training and “outdated views are holding young people back from pursuing their dream career.”

He said; “Every parent wants the best for their children and when they ask you for advice about their futures, it’s incredibly daunting. But I know I will absolutely encourage them to consider an apprenticeship.”

Figures show apprenticeship uptake dropped nearly 5% in the first quarter of the 2019/20 academic year.

Sources:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7959009/Education-Secretary-says-urge-children-apprenticeship.html 
https://www.fenews.co.uk/fevoices/42370-gillian-keegan-was-appointed-parliamentary-under-secretary-of-state-at-the-department-for-education

 

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