Nursery World Awards 16: Initiatives - Online and Social Media

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Little Forest Folk, London

onlinesocialmedia

Little Forest Folk started back in 2014 to give children in London the opportunity to connect with nature and to learn in a safe as well as stimulating outdoor environment.

Since the outdoor nursery revamped its website in January, traffic to the site has gone up by 213 per cent. In April there were 4,962 users and 17,975 page views.

Little Forest Folk operates in outdoor forest settings in Wimbledon and Chiswick, and the new website provides information to prospective parents about the nursery’s ethos, sites, staff team and what the children typically get up to there.

The nursery says that most people find out about it online, where they can discover all the information they need and make bookings. The website has also attracted ‘fantastic staff’ to the setting.

The nursery is also planning to open a setting in Wandsworth Common and uses the website to keep interested parties up to date on its progress.

Information on the website includes the status of waiting lists, frequently asked questions and open days.

A food page hosts details of the current children’s menu, cooking lessons and recipes, to encourage parents to try them at home. The website also includes a ‘parents’ portal’, where parents can log in to see their children’s online learning journals.

Most of the traffic to the website is generated by the blog, which covers ‘our week in the forest’, news and events. Meanwhile, the nursery’s contact information and social platforms are easy to find, with a Twitter feed on the homepage and an Instagram feed on the press page.

The nursery’s presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is used to communicate with parents, as well as more widely with potential parents, local organisations the media, and those interested in early years and the natural environment.

At the time of entering this competition, the nursery had 883 Twitter followers, which had grown to more than 1,500 by the time of going to press. The nursery has more than 2,000 Facebook fans.

Little Forest Folk shares its adventures in the forest and activities back at base online through photos, video and the blog. Social media is used to share articles, activities, events in the area, quotes, reports and recipes in order to spread awareness of the nursery’s ethos, which revolves around children connecting with nature, child-led play, learning through play, and healthy eating.

The website also provides a place to advertise the nursery’s holiday camps, enrolment, site tours and jobs. Information on tours of the settings, enrolment automation and registering for the holiday camps has been improved on the new site.

The recent holiday camp online form led to the Wimbledon camps being sold out within 48 hours, and site tours in Chiswick within four hours.

Future plans for the website’s development include improving the management of the waiting list process by including online payments. There are also plans for the videos on Facebook to be made available on the website, a photo gallery and adding YouTube.

Other improvements considered are adding a map to the website with more details of the different setting locations.

‘Interesting content. Easy to find. Informative’ - Parent

Highly commended

Fennies Day Nurseries and Pre-Schools, Surrey

Fennies has a modern, clean and engaging website designed to be user-friendly and appealing to prospective parents. Website and social media updates are already having an impact on nursery occupancy.

Finalists

Childcare East Midlands

Daisy Chain Pre-School, Leeds

Criterion

Open to early years providers (nurseries, schools, pre-schools and childminders) and services whose website and use of social media is informative, accessible and innovative

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