Customer Success Stories

At LearningBook we often hear of customer success stories; how LearningBook has helped support early years settings’ practice, learning journeys, morale and children’s learning and development.

One particular LearningBook customer success stories is from Debbie at D-Dee’s Day Nursery. D-Dee’s Day Nursery was opened in Faversham, Kent by Debbie Gunn in September 1996. It is described as “a special place where early years children are nurtured and allowed the space and time to develop at their own pace”. D-Dee’s are proud to be constantly reflecting on their practice; enabling them and their children to be the very best that they can. Ofsted Outstanding and the longest established early years setting under the same ownership in the Kent area, D-Dee’s also have a number of awards under their belt including, Individual Nursery and Nursery Team awards at the NMT Nursery Awards 2017!

Debbie and her team have given insight into the experience and impression LearningBook has had in their nursery.

When was LearningBook first introduced to you?

Our first encounter with the LearningBook team was at the Nursery World Show a few years ago, they had an obvious passion for their product and showed a keen awareness to listen to the sector and provide what they really needed.

What problem(s) were you trying to solve when you became a customer of LearningBook?

We started to look at technological systems to support our recording of children’s observations with us due to time. The time that we have with our little people is so precious. We wanted to use as much of this as possible to engage and interact with them rather than writing, sticking and printing away from them.

What made LearningBook stand out from other digital learning journeys? Why did you choose us?

The locked-down tablets were a major advantage for us. The safety and security of the data alongside the tablets provided by LearningBook made them stand out from the rest.

What have you been able to achieve since using LearningBook?

We have always reflected on our provision, but LearningBook has enabled us to do this with much more accuracy. Our staff have used assessments and progress reports to support children needing additional support from outside agencies. We have also used them to support training needs for our team and environmental re-organisation within our setting. The time saved has been huge and parental engagement has been great, we have noticed more engagement again since the launch of the Parent App. It’s been a great success!

What’s the main reason why you recommend LearningBook?

It is simple, easy to use and gives the team the support that they need to add real value to their practice for each individual child.

What is your favourite feature of LearningBook?

We really like that our team’s professional judgment can override any learning journey assessment made of our children. Our team know the children so very well, but the system can only know the knowledge that we have entered. We have seen real progress made by all thanks to the fact our experienced team have the option to physically change things based our professional judgment combined with the auto-assessment.

I’d just like to say that the support team are great. We have not had to call them very often but when we have, mainly due to our own user error they have been brilliant. They never make us feel silly and are always so positive, happy and bright. Thank you ‘Team LearningBook’!

Read more of LearningBook Customer Success Stories, here.

 

How can your early years setting boost your parental engagement?

LearningBook can help empower staff to build partnerships with parents and improve early years parental engagement

One of LearningBook’s aims is to transform how parents engage and interact with their child’s early years education. We understand the importance of early years parental engagement and boosting parent partnerships within your setting. To do this to benefit children’s well-being and development, not only to appease Ofsted. Parent involvement in early years education can introduce new experiences. A child can have lots of influences varying from the classroom to home. A parent who recognises what their child does at school, pre-school or nursery has a better understanding of their child’s ability and which areas they need to work on to improve their development.

Some ideas to get parents engaged is to invite them to ‘stay and plays’ so they participate in activities and get an idea of activities to do at home. Parents bceome more engaged and motivated with LearningBook. Using different features to keep them updated on what’s going on at their child’s early years setting when they’re at work or out-and-about. We’ve spent considerable time on features that help early years settings target parents in a number of different ways.

1) Dedicated Parent Portal

MyLearningBook is a dedicated Parent Portal accessed through any web browser using a secure log in, parents can access their children’s learning journeys at any time. For example, when they’re at work or on the moce – they will never miss a moment. Parents can upload photos from home to be included in the learning journey, comment on individual observations and view and contribute to termly assessments.

2) iOS Parent App

A beautifully designed iOS app available on iPhones. Parents can download and log in for free whilst they’re out and about. Parents can do everything the Parent Portal does but it is designed to be more user-friendly for iPhones and easier to logon and keep informed. They will receive notifications when a setting shows an observation or assessment.

3) Keepsakes

LearningBook allows parents to cherish their child’s memories forever by printing their learning journey in beautiful hardback books and compact memory sticks. A permanent keepsake to show children, parents and families just how far they’ve come and what they can achieve.

4) Complete Control

LearningBook gives settings full control over their parent management. Staff can setup and manage parent details and logons, enable and disable accounts and share information at their discretion. Above all, staff are in complete control of what information they choose to share and when.

LearningBook gives parents the visibility they need to support their child’s education beyond the classroom. We have introduced multiple features to encourage the growth of early years parental engagement.  If parents can how their child learns and what they do day-to-day, as a result partnerships with parents will be made stronger.

Customer Success Stories

At LearningBook we often hear of customer success stories; how LearningBook has helped support early years settings’ practice, boosted parental engagement, improved learning journeys and children’s learning and development.

One of our LearningBook success stories is from one of our oldest customer, Footprints Day Nurseries; a two nursery group, based in Cheshire, North West England. Established in 2002 it has proved itself as a high quality group, with Ofsted Outstanding ratings at both nurseries. They also boast numerous awards for excellent childcare and commitment to early years from daynurseries.co.uk and NMT Nursery Awards. With upcoming plans for an expansion, Footprints use LearningBook as a unique selling point alongside their passionate staff and beautiful locations just outside the Peak District.

We sat down with Rachel, Nursery Manager at Footprints’ Bollington site to discuss her LearningBook success story. We got to to know her and discuss the impact LearningBook has had on her nursery.

How long have you been working in early years?

I’ve been an early years professional for around 20 years. I started with Footprints not long after receiving my Level 2 diploma. I was one of the first nursery nurses to be employed by the company. I’ve come through the company as a nursery nurse, to room leader to nursery manager.

When was LearningBook first introduced to you?

LearningBook came in to Footprints during its early stages of development. The nursery has seen how LearningBook was during its very beginnings, after that, it has grown from strength to strength with its rich number of features.

What problem(s) were you trying to solve when you started using LearningBook?

We needed something to save the staff time and to cut down on paper, ink etc. At Footprints we found that staff were spending more and more time completing observations and learning journeys rather than engaging with our children and planning their activities to aid development. LearningBook helped boost staff morale, give them more time to focus on the children and we were able to save money. The design of the system also meant we weren’t losing out on the engagement from parents which was a big part of why parents chose us over other nurseries in the local area – we have that family feel.

What have you been able to achieve since using LearningBook?

We were able to focus more on those children who needed the extra support and provision. LearningBook helped us identify where children needed one-to-one support or where staff needed extra training as well.

What is your favourite feature of LearningBook?

The parent portal and app! Having a child of my own in nursery means I can view his achievement and his well-being. As a manager this is ideal to keep parents engaged and to motivate them to contribute photos from home,. We also use the parent portal and app to encourage parents to make comments on assessments which we have discussed at Parents’ evenings.

What’s the main reason why you recommend LearningBook?

That’s a hard one! The quality of each aspect of LearningBook is great. When I used the system as a nursery nurse it was ideal for taking observations and planning – above all the safeguarding aspect is key. Similarly, now that I am a manager, I can track cohorts, children and groups in lots of different ways. This not only helps improve our practice it also ensures we give children the best outcomes. For the staff that use LearningBook everyday it feels like each part of the system has been thought out.

Read more of LearningBook Customer Success Stories, here.

LearningBook joins forces with Just Childcare

Nursery group Just Childcare is teaming up with leading education technology company LearningBook to deliver a top spec recording and development tracking system across its sites.

The award-winning chain of over 30 nurseries will use LearningBook’s safeguarding-aware digital learning journey in a rolling multi-year contract, enabling staff to perform observation recording and tracking in half the time*.

Dr James Huntington, founder of LearningBook, comments; “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Just Childcare. Our system will help Just Childcare deliver a more comprehensive and efficient level of data collection, ensuring they continue to meet national and Ofsted standards, while having more time to help develop the children and engage parents.”

Liz Carroll, Nursery Operations Director at Just Childcare, adds: “Our team have found the system so simple to use, while allowing for a real depth of information to inform staff of children’s progress – and parents and carers really appreciate the unique safeguarding element and having the ability to view and contribute to their child’s education at home. We knew quite soon into our trial that we would be looking to roll the technology out across all our nurseries.”

 

LearningBook is based in Manchester and Macclesfield and is run by Dr James Huntington. The company was started when James’ family, who own Ofsted Outstanding nurseries, spotted a need for a more streamlined, safe and simple system for staff to track children’s early years development. James, a cloud computing company owner, combined his IT knowledge with ex-head teachers and nursery owners to create the system, launching it in 2014. It is the only company in the UK to offer the technology to clients on tablets which are stripped of all other applications, delivering a higher level of safeguarding than other companies. LearningBook now works with over 1,000 schools, preschools, nurseries and childminders all over the UK and further afield.

Liz concludes: “Thanks to LearningBook, we can spend more time improving the development of the children in our care, and communicating it really effectively to their parents and carers, who love the safeguarding element.”

Getting to Grips with the GDPR

GDPR in Early Years

You may not think that the GDPR will impact early years setting but it does. It’s important to get to grips with what it all means and what steps your establishment should take to be compliant.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a directive by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU). The GDPR will replace the current Data Protection Act.

The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to individuals over their personal data and covers all companies that deal with the data of EU citizens. The EU definition of “personal data” is “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person”. Above all, the GDPR is intended to create a uniformity of rules to enforce across the continent.

On 25th May 2018 the GDPR will be enforced across Europe.

Think that the GDPR will not be enforced after Brexit? Wrong. To clarify, it has been confirmed GDPR will form part of UK law following the country’s withdrawal from the EU. Therefore, companies including nurseries and other childcare establishments are advised to begin making appropriate steps to make their setting GDPR compliant.

How will it impact the Early Years Sector, including your setting?

For your nursery, preschool, school etc. personal data will likely be information on children, parents and your staff. For instance, names, dates of birth, addresses, allergies, medical information, photos, bank details, national insurance numbers and qualifications. All of which are personally identifiable and therefore concerned under the GDPR in early years settings.

Under the GDPR there are certain key areas to consider:

Awareness

Key people within your school or nursery aware of the changes in law to the GDPR. These people may include managers, owner, directors, or governing body. Importantly, they should also understand the impact this will have.

Information

You should hold a record of what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with. Something to bear in mind is who in your setting has access to what. By limiting how many individuals can access information and what information will, consequently, reduce risk.

Consent and Privacy Information

Firstly, you should review how you seek, record and manage consent. Secondly, find out whether you need to make any changes to your current procedures. Review and renew existing consent forms now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard. For children, who are not able to give consent of their own data until they are 16, you should think about your current system for obtaining consent from parents or guardians. Furthermore, this consent should also cover privacy policies or notices to give individuals your identity. It also means they know how you plan to use their information.

Individual Rights

This includes the right to be informed, to access, to rectification, to erasure, to restrict processing, to object, and to not be subject automated decision-making and profiling.

A nursery or school should check the policies and procedures in place to ensure they cover the rights individuals have under the GDPR. This can include how you would delete individuals’ personal data or provide them with their data if requested. LearningBook allows you to download and export data in formats suchs as PDF, CSV etc, so this is something to consider when it comes to GDPR in your early years setting.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

If you don’t comply with GDPR then the Information Commission’s Office (ICO) has the right to fine your company an amount up to £20million or a 4% global turnover. The level of the fine depends on which is greater. The ICO will likely only audit you if there has been a breach.

Find out more:

3 questions you must ask your Digital Learning Journey provider

Why Digital Learning Journeys?

Some practitioners are spending as long as seven hours each week assembling paper learning journeys for the EYFS. Many practitioners are expected to complete these unpaid, after work hours. It’s not surprising when you consider the complicated processes that go into these learning journeys. Some practitioners write sticky notes and keep them in pockets before filing them in the correct scrapbook. Many nurseries tie a notebook to the play area, so practitioners can jot down observations, which then have to be copied out. Of course, these paper Learning Journeys are prone to damage and getting lost; yet they aren’t much use to parents sitting in a tray at school. That’s why Digital Learning Journeys were invented!

Digital Learning Journey observations are much easier. Using tablet computers, practitioners can:

  • Make photo, video, text or voice recording observations;
  • Save the details to a child, or even to a child’s specific learning outcome;
  • Receive parents’ comments and recordings of activities outside the home, for a more complete picture of each child’s progress.

Digital Learning Journey systems finally allow for the truly spontaneous observations practitioners have been long been expected to provide; instead of the reality of rushing to complete scrapbooks in time for Parent’s Evening.

Some practitioners using the old scrapbook learning journeys say they struggle to observe something for each child every term. Digital Learning Journeys make observations so quick and easy you can make observations whenever you choose.

Three questions you must ask before you choose Digital Learning Journey provider

The advantages of Digital Learning Journeys are clear. However, with new Digital Learning Journey systems added to the market every day, it can be difficult to know which to choose.

You must ask:

1. Is it secure?

Some early years settings restrict mobile devices and cameras due to fears around sharing images. It would be very easy to share an image of a child on a social network via a mobile phone. For this reason, concerned headteachers and managers should avoid Digital Learning Journey systems which are simply downloaded to open devices.

LearningBook’s locked down ‘SmartTablets’ are closed. The ‘SmartTablets’ cannot download other apps and software, such as Facebook, YouTube or email platforms. Data is protected from data loss and cybercrime because it is backed up and stored securely. Only accessible to staff and parents via secure logins. Practitioners enjoy all the benefits technology brings, with none of the fears.

2. Will parents use this?

The chief advantage of Digital Learning Journeys is their power to engage parents. When parents partner with practitioners, the effect on educational outcomes is immeasurable. Practitioners will already know how much easier it is to build relationships with parents who understand what goes on in their setting.

LearningBook has received much praise for its parent portal; which parents say is easy to use. LearningBook case studies show just how much parents enjoy finding out what their child is learning about.

3. How much is it?

LearningBook is the professional and secure choice. Although it is one of the most established systems on the market, it is priced competitively.

Safeguarding-aware tablets vs open devices

As you’re probably aware there are guidelines and policies in place to ensure that mobile devices are not used in early years settings. The reason for this is to prevent the intentional or unintentional distribution of children’s data.

It is a safeguarding best-practice for early years settings to restrict mobile devices and cameras due to fears around sharing images; it would be very easy to share an image of a child on a social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, email or other forms of online communications, via a mobile phone or tablet. To avoid this many managers implement policies to restrict the use of open devices in their settings, sometimes mobile phones have to be locked away during the day etc.

You may have heard fairly recently that a nursery that was previously rated as outstanding has been downgraded to inadequate after staff photographed children on their mobiles and sent the pictures to parents. Whilst there was a photo policy in place, signed by parents, meaning they only receive pictures of their own children, the use of open devices in the setting poses a risk to children’s information, data and images.

Furthermore, many settings begin using open devices, such as iPads and mobile phones in the rooms to record observations as part of children’s learning journeys to track their progression. These devices are likely to still have access to applications that allow sharing of images and videos making it easy for staff to do so, and therfore counteracting the nurseries priorties for children’s safety. It also allows the productivity of the staff to drop. With a range of applications available on open devices, staff may become distracted during quiet times or nap times where they access these application. This may be detrimental to the setting and could pose a risk to the children’s education and well-being, as well as staff motivations and role.

What options are available for my setting?

When it comes to online and digital learning journeys, motivating staff and engaging parents make sure you choose a provider that takes safeguarding seriously and is one of the company’s top priorities. LearningBook uses locked-down SmartTablets only, which cannot be used to access Internet browsers, social media, emails or other applications and ensures that no images can be taken outside of the learning journey or uploaded to anywhere outside of your control. All observations can only be uploaded to a secureAdministration Portal for staff and a password protected Parent Portal for parents to view and comment on.

Practitioners and managers enjoy all the benefits technology brings with none of the fears!

Early Years Planning

Discover how Digital Learning Journeys can help your Early Years planning

The way it works now:

Practitioners are expected to make spontaneous changes to long-term, medium and short term plans tailored to individual children. Some best practice advice recommends adapting schedules “based on your observations from the previous day”.

Staff are so hands-on. Practitioners may not be getting the bigger picture of progress across groups or the whole setting. Although each practitioner has an excellent picture of their key children, this information to colleagues may be ad hoc. It can also be easy to forget to measure attainment separately for children of different ages in mixed settings.

How Digital Learning Journeys can help:

Troubleshooting is much easier with access to data. For instance, medium term planning can be adjusted if the Digital Learning Journey data reveals that children across the setting aren’t making the same progress in literacy compared to other goals. If children whose second language is English aren’t progressing as quickly as their peers, they could receive more attention from teaching assistants in the following weeks.

Planning can become even more spontaneous with help from parents. Digital Learning Journeys share information so much more quickly than termly parents’ evening. Parents may even be able to incorporate learning from that day into evening activities. For example, asking their child to halve the pizza at dinner time if they have been learning about fractions. Practitioners can do the same; a message logged by a parent after school may inspire activities the next day.

Of course, it’s possible to over-plan; the EYFS requires providers to ensure a balance of child-initiated and adult-led play based activities. However, the more up-to-date information you have, the easier it is to provide releavnt activities for each child.

Ideas for early years planning:

  • Many councils advise finding out about the festivals children from different backgrounds celebrate. Have parents mentioned any festivals via the Digital Learning Journey parent portal?
  • This useful pack advises that birthdays could inspire cooking activities in school.
  • Is there a popular book children are reading at home which you’ve missed?
  • Have you appropriately chosen mixed ability groups for each learning area?
  • If parents report an interesting family hobby, could this inspire an activity? It’s best practice to ensure activities ‘build on children’s prior learning’.
  • Could parents who are engaged on the parent portal be invited to participate in a trip?

Next steps

Paper learning journeys contain invaluable information, yet are often left to languish on shelves. Unlike paper learning journeys, Digital Learning Journeys bring this information alive. As a result it is an invaluable resource for planning and evaluation.

Why your school or nursery needs learning journeys

Learning journeys can be hugely beneficial for early years practitioners when it comes to tracking progress, benchmarking and planning. That’s why it’s important to invest time and effort into school and nursery learning journeys.

What us a school or nursery learning journey?

A learning journey is a collection of pieces of information that, when connected together, creates a picture of a particular child. It’s a valuable tool for:

  • Assessing a child’s development.
  • Providing a record of a child’s time with you.
  • Helping you plan activities.

You should be able to see at a glance the child’s stage of development and what they need to cover next. Learning journeys enable you to keep track of a child’s development, link it to areas of the EYFS and use your knowledge, as well as information from parents and other relevant professionals to plan activities.

Learning journeys tell a story

Make the learning journey the story of a child’s time and development with you.

  • Start at the beginning with the “all about me” information you gathered during the child’s settling-in period.
  • Ask about the child’s likes, dislikes, routines, comforters, what they like to play with, and any special people or pets in their lives.
  • Give the child the same activity at the beginning and at the end of their time with you to see their progress, for example, draw a self-portrait.

Discover what works for you

Some early years professionals enjoy creating beautiful scrapbooks and journals that can then be kept by parents, but if this isn’t for you and you find it time consuming, find ways to speed up the process. Look at the online tools and apps that are available. Find one that you can take photos with, tag children, and make comments on a mobile device then sync with your computer.

Learning journeys create an up-to-the minute picture of a child’s development, making planning, reporting and benchmarking easy.

How can LearningBook help?

LearningBook transforms how staff capture and analyse progress, and enhances how parents interact and engage with their child’s early years education. Our digitial learning journeys save you time and money, and above all ensure your children and their data is safeguarded and secure.

Find out more or book a free demonstration and trial.