Deerness Valley is a single-site nursery school in Durham. Owner, Headteacher, and Lead Educator Hannah Dexter opened the nursery in a purpose-built wooden cabin (in her own giant back garden) in 2020, with the help of her best friend, and Deputy Manager, Jenny Morecroft.
It also means doing their paperwork with as little actual paper as possible. And that’s where Famly comes in.
I sat down with Hannah and Jenny to find out all about how Famly fits their eco-values.
When Hannah and Jenny talked about opening a setting, they discussed their shared values first and decided they wanted to try to have as little environmental impact as they reasonably could.
“We knew when we started we didn’t want to have paper that was unnecessary. It’s a waste of time, a waste of money, and it’s not very environmentally sound,” explains Jenny.
And paper takes up space too. The secure storage of paperwork, like a filing cabinet, was a lot of real estate for the size of the cabin that houses the nursery, and Jenny and Hannah knew that space could better serve another purpose - like room for the children to play.
The Deerness Valley team use Famly for invoicing parents, all the observations of children (including observations from parents), logging meals and nappies, for planning the rotas, registering children, and all their parent communication… which would be a lot of paper.
The entire Deerness Valley setting is mixed-age, where children spend their time at nursery in what Deerness Valley call a ‘family group’. Having a mixed age group is a core part of the Deerness Valley values, but unfortunately, the software that Hannah and Jenny had chosen previously wasn’t flexible enough to manage mixed-age ratios.
“We had a system where we booked children in with the software and then having have a paper system where we worked out ratios for the room. We were basically doubling up on the work. There were a number of things like that where, as we grew, the old system didn’t work for us anymore.”
So they had to look elsewhere.
“We found that Famly did everything we needed it to do!” says Jenny. Including allowing for mixed-age rooms.
Another draw to Famly for Hannah and Jenny was the changes Famly made, in line with the new EYFS in 2021.
“I could feel a real desire from Famly to take things back to basics,” says Jenny “ And not have any of the stuff you don’t need. ‘Let’s be flexible, let’s allow you to use this in the way your setting wants to use it.’ Which we were really keen on.”
This is exactly what we, at Famly, were trying to do.
“We liked that really wholehearted grabbing of the new curriculum and what that means,” Jenny adds, “Rather than ‘let’s find the boxes to fit children in and tick things off’. We’re not a very ticky-box setting!”
Famly is continually changing and improving. “We found that [Famly] are very responsive to changing things or adding things. And whenever we’ve requested things to be done, they have generally been done - so that’s great! Things get tweaked or changed or made more user-friendly.” says Jenny.
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.