Learning Links is a New Zealand childcare organisation dedicated to supporting play-based learning within loving, sustainable, nature-based environments.

While their pioneering Hamilton centre has operated for more than two decades, the organisation has grown rapidly over recent years following a rebrand and opening eight additional centres throughout the country between Dunedin and Auckland.

Director Gavin Hazelden says the rapid growth highlighted the inadequacies of their traditional paper-based processes.

Each centre was left to manually conduct their regular checks on paper forms, which would then be verified by the group’s Operations Manager during on-site visits.

“As a Director you have to be absolutely confident the process is being done in a correct and timely manner and we soon realised this system was not sufficient.

“We wanted to be able to view the condition of each environment, know what needs to be corrected and respond quickly, which is why we went to 1Place,” says Gavin.

Real-time visibility through interactive dashboards

The organisation was drawn to 1Place as a cloud-based compliance solution that could be used from devices anywhere.

Staff use the software to undertake compliance-related checks at each centre, including daily open and close procedures, weekly and monthly checklists such as fire drills and hazard checks, and termly checks such as getaway procedures and first aid supplies.

The move to online compliance tracking has been painless for the teachers carrying out the regular checks too.

“1Place is very easy to use. All teachers already have their own iPads and use other software for student management so they’re familiar with a paperless environment.”

With 1Place, Directors, Operations Managers and Administration staff get visibility across the organisation through real-time dashboards.

“We’re receiving checklists from every centre in real time, and a weekly consolidated report that covers all centres arriving in our inbox as well. This visibility is hugely important for us,” says Gavin.

1Place delivers beyond compliance

1Place also supports Learning Links in ensuring their sustainable values and vision are reflected in the day-to-day environment at each centre.

The organisation aims to make the link between nature, food and wellbeing as visible as possible for children, giving them the opportunity to take part in gardening, cooking, eating and connecting with the natural world.

“There’s no plastic, artificial grass or AstroTurf. It’s all real trees, real grass, real plants and lots of wooden products.

“1Place allows us to see [through the photo capture feature] whether the learning environments are staged for the children the way that we all envisaged it to be. It’s more than just compliance.”

Customisable software primed for growth

Gavin says the ability to customise 1Place to suit their unique needs is hugely beneficial.

During drought over summer, staff were able to utilise the software’s photo capture feature to visually document the health of the grass at each centre.

“It meant we could easily see and respond more quickly than we would through monthly visits.”

Soon, accident and incident processes will be incorporated in 1Place, as well as a number of other checks that will support centres in delivering a consistent high-quality experience.

While it’s too early to identify trends, Gavin and his management team are beginning to consolidate the data and are looking forward to seeing trends coming through as accidents and incidents are logged.

“It’s great how the 1Place team can customise and modify the software based on our feedback.

“They are incredibly responsive and able to cater to our evolving needs. It’s a really good partnership.”