It is stressful being an early years provider, but spark will give you the control back, so all adults involved can strive for outstanding EYFS practice in order to get everything right, ultimately for every child at this time of rapid brain development.
It is stressful being an early years provider, but spark will give you the control back, so all adults involved can strive for outstanding EYFS practice in order to get everything right, ultimately for every child at this time of rapid brain development. 0203 390 2412
You receive the EYFS in a very practical way, putting each child’s learning goals at your fingertips.
spark offers practical, hands-on activity ideas for educators across all areas of learning and development, spanning all age-ranges.
Caregivers (teachers and parents) work with infants and toddlers know exactly what to look out for when working with young children, taking your service far beyond business as usual.
A prompt and knowledgeable response from the spark support team is guaranteed.
spark provides on-the-go training and support for all early years staff, at no extra cost.
You will be able to make sure that no child is left behind. Gaps are recognized early on, interventions are created where necessary to support each individual child.
Staff performance evaluation is made easy, as managers and administrators are provided with information and evidence to support this process.
You are able to generate the necessary and relevant reports for both the parents and the school’s internal information.
Your software is very user-friendly!
Differentiated instruction and learning just got easier with the spark software.
spark creates the balance between child development and academic achievement, in order for you to provide a wholesome early childhood experience for each learner.
You can provide your families with daily updates on what their children are learning and how they are faring within your early years community; ensuring that parents do not miss a thing and are enabled to build on progress.
Our support team follows your team from the beginning and until they feel confident to enhance practice in your school.
"The team leader checks every child's profile regularly to ensure that key persons make frequent observations and use the system proficiently. This enables her to keep an extremely sharp focus on each child's progress, to identify any gaps in children's learning quickly and to monitor the effectiveness of the key person's observational and assessment knowledge." – Ofsted Report
“Having all of the planners to hand is brilliant as it allows me to monitor activities at the click of a button. In my senior role, I can see if practitioners are updating their review of plans consistently whilst considering their key groups next steps. These tasks were previously very time-consuming.”
“sparkearlyyears is a fantastic software that has helped our school overcome many of the challenges that we have faced in the past; with the brilliant innovation of the instant, next step suggestions for all the seven areas of learning… It has also helped us to provide our parents with instant and simple reports and the response from them has been really positive.”
"I had a chance to use spark@HOME and today found it extremely useful. This totally keeps us in the loop and helps us track Jael's progress as well as start to prepare her for the next steps as much as we can. I think it is a brilliant tool that should even be used by primary schools, as it is difficult for parents to keep up with a child's progress these days."
"We want to really set the foundations from day one and using the home software has really helped to encourage parents to become involved in their child's learning and also to work with us. This has really been a unique tool when we have shown prospective parents around the nursery. The feedback has been 100% positive."
“The sparkearlyyears app has really revolutionised the way that we implement our EYFS Curriculum… You absolutely cannot miss any learning milestones with the app.”
"Initially feeling daunted about the 2-3 progress check I can safely say as a team we now feel completely confident. The step by step guide ensures you are fully aware of each point you need to consider and gives you a very thorough understanding of your key child. Also, this involves the parents in such a positive way, as well as other professionals."
"I find it hard to believe how everything is made so simple."
“Parents love it and staff are really enjoying it!! It really is great and it's making a huge difference to the amount of time staff spend with children and not writing things up! Well worth the investment!”
"Practitioners use their observational skills to assess children's development and input their observations onto the nursery's computer software program. This system is effectively used to track and follow children's progress." - Ofsted Report
"Staff were admittedly a little apprehensive about this change, however, after one training session all their prior concerns evaporated, and the staff were extremely excited about the programme and how it would impact upon their working lives. Not only did they feel it was a much easier ways of recording children's learning and development, but they felt that it would be quicker, allowing them more time to spend with the child, which is obviously the most important part of their role."
"A key strength of spark is its ability to free practitioners up to get on with the important business of being authentic/sustained shared moments with children." - Sue Gascoyne - Early Years Author.
“sparkearlyyears is one of the best things that has ever happened to me as a practitioner in the early years…. it helps me to think outside of the box by preparing the right resources and materials that child would need to achieve that milestone… I also love the evaluation method, it’s instant; you don’t have to wait for a later time.”
"We have just bought sparkPRO and as an established, experienced nursery, we already recognise the benefits. The system can be used in any nursery, but I would have snatched spark's hand off for this years ago when I was starting up. I would thoroughly recommend to new inexperienced nurseries too."
A Differentiated Approach to Promote Great Parent Partnerships
Great parent partnerships are key in the early years. spark is software designed by early years educators to ensure parents too can ‘get it right’ for their child with the software and alongside the Educator’s support. Research clearly shows that children do much better when parents are interested and more so if they are actively involved in their child’s learning. spark aims to encourage families to take this active role in supporting and extending their child’s learning and development building upon what the child already knows and can do, alongside the setting. After all, it is at this time, before school when the brain is growing most rapidly. We want to encourage parents to be brain-builders too.
spark provides a range of tools to support good communication; to, with and from parents and carers. Some of these tools are included in sparkESSENTIAL and sparkPRO, such as Learning Journey Profile reports (plus Learning Journey presentations, and graphs and charts as appropriate), The Progress Check, sparkLINK (parent portal) and Learning Stories (shared on sparkLINK/spark@HOME). Additionally, sparkDIARY may be added and the parent’s and carer’s own software spark@HOME. spark@HOMEis generally purchased by the family, this way they have ownership of their own child’s learning journey and build their own record alongside observations made by the setting.
sparkDIARY sends messages out from the whole setting, the child’s room and for the individual at a regular time or a time set for a particular child. It allows Practitioners to quickly record the physical care of babies and toddlers (naps, nappy changes, feeds etc) and for little ones sparkDIARY can be set to go out on each day of attendance at a time that suits the family. Alongside this information and for older children and where the setting uses sparkPRO the special activities the child has enjoyed can be shared with the parents too, encouraging conversations at home. Settings generally send out an older child’s sparkDIARY on the last day they attend in a week.
The relationship with and family involvement is an integral part of work in an early years setting. As educators ourselves; we firmly believe that we should differentiate practice to match parents’ needs, rather than provide a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Similarly, good practise does not deliver the curriculum to children in that way, either. Furthermore, as recent neuroscientific research and longitudinal studies show, there is a greater understanding of the importance of optimum brain growth before school and how this success impacts on future exam results, adult choices and overall quality of life.
Through our research, children do better where parents have truly engaged; a parallel and cohesive approach in facilitating the child’s learning and development. Our study showed parents who used their spark@HOME all demonstrated their children were doing much better than those who opted out. There could be a 10-month difference between children of the same chronological age in some examples. One example, child A and child B, both came from nuclear families. They both began simultaneously and only attended this one setting and for the same amount of sessions per week. Parents of child A had fully engaged and used their spark@HOME. Their child had the most significant improvements in Understanding the World and Communication and Language, over child B. Child A was significantly ahead in all other developmental areas too.
This study pushed us to act and gain feedback from our customers on the challenges that e what could be changed to increase engagement. Our surmise was that spark needed to encourage parents to log on. The outcome of talking to parents and other settings showed, time-starvation, parents fear of failing or not meeting the set expectations were the most prominent reasons for non-involvement with the software.
With all this in mind, in 2003, spark set about to create something genuinely innovative. Rather than just sharing lovely photos illustrating the child has been happy, and the setting has been doing something today, we have developed something better.
To that aim, additions are available, to complement and recognise that not every parent can, or want to, embrace our premium spark@HOME product. The commitment was perceived to be too great. Now, settings can encourage parent participation by providing various ways online to match parents aspirations and lifestyles. Once engaged, then there is the opportunity to scaffold them to become more and more involved with their child’s learning and development, until they are participating equally with the setting and vice versa by using spark@HOME.
In addition to the original reports that embrace a ‘low level’ of input by the parent or at the other end of the spectrum spark@HOME, we have introduced sparkLINK and Learning Stories within our standard packages (sparkESSENTIAL and sparkPRO) to further culture this connection.
Introducing new features has instigated improvements to the original parts, particularly with spark@HOME (parents own this software but it also ‘talks’ with the other standard packages sharing information both ways). Busy drop off and pick up times do not encourage lengthy conversations about everything that has happened at home or in the setting. Also, with many Key Children for the Educator to remember the detail of many messages. spark enables such information to flow and shared with the Key Person, team and seniors at a time that suits the family and in private.
At its most basic level, spark creates Learning Journey Profiles (plus possibly supplemented by learning journeys, charts and graphs). These prepared to share with families either via email or through printouts. They are quick, need minor quality checks by seniors, and include parents’ ideas to undertake at home, including ways to do them. These are chosen by the Key Person or Educator and generated by spark. An invitation is sent to parents and carers to give feedback on the software on the child’s progress. Likewise, with the statutory 2-3 Year Progress Check; again, all can be involved. sparkLINK is the next step up and is an integral part of sparkESSENTIAL and sparkPRO. This feature is accessed online by secure passwords. The innovation in this is that it is a way to encourage involvement in cohesive learning between setting and home without overwhelming families or giving direct instruction. There are ideas and useful information that when used, pertinently guides parents’. In turn, this enhances planning in the setting around schemas, interests and home scenarios. Parents/Carers also receive some stage-appropriate suggestions in what they might like to help their child with at home. What’s most important is that parents can begin to identify what they have achieved with their child and gain extra satisfaction from that.
Part of the process is to enhance the conversation’s content between ‘formal educator’ and ‘primary educator’ and shared learning. We have designed ways to keep tabs on how often parents’ use their software. Hence, educators can influence and support them, to ensure features across sparkLINK and spark@HOME don’t become a ‘lip service partnership’ where there is no real benefit for the child. By measuring engagement, we enable educators to meet needs accordingly.
Every parent enjoys photos, but we wanted these to be more meaningful than a child’s snapshot with an activity. sparkLINK has the option of adding Learning Stories, designed to showcase the child learning a skill through a sequence of photographs. These can show that children are happy when they are settling in or moving into a new age-group. Parents receive these in real-time but need to click past the other features (ideas for progress and communication jotter). These ‘stories’ also encourage parents to look at sparkLINK and motivate their engagement with additional information. In the same way on spark@HOME.
In 2020, we improved spark@HOME to make it easier for parents to access on their mobile phones. We also extended the ways the app can encourage quality engagement at home, between parent and child, promote extended learning built upon the Learning Stories shared by the setting, and extend the child’s Communication and Language skills during shared experiences at home. Furthermore, to extend how spark@HOME joins up the adults and the setting with home, to support and generate feelings of well-being for both the child and parent. These also contributing to and promoting the child’s ongoing and future good mental health.
In summary, both sparkPRO and sparkESSENTIAL have a multi-faceted and differentiated approach to improving families’ involvement with their child’s learning alongside their early years setting.
“[spark@HOME] is so logical in its ordering so following through my child’s sequence of learning and the progress he’s making makes so much sense. You can also track back so you can see very clearly where he’s come from, where he’s at now and where he’s got to go next.” – parent feedback.
“I have used the comments feature, and I think having further communication with the people looking after him all of the time is really important . . . being able to record things that have been noticeably significant for him has been really beneficial for me and I know that that’s fed into what he does at nursery. That’s really encouraging knowing there are links between what he does at home and what he does at daytime.” – parent feedback.
“This software has contributed in boosting parents’ confidence in our practice. They are now, more assured that every step of their child’s development is captured; a gap in development identified and early intervention proffered.” – A Foundation School in Nigeria.
“It is very easy to use because there are some prompts at the side, which gave me ideas of the things that I could say and I felt happy that I was able to talk about my son and the staff know some of the things that he likes.” – parent feedback.
“spark has bridged a gap in the nursery industry, where practitioners, practice, child development and parents can share information about a child’s learning. spark has achieved this from a nursery development perspective; and by enabling the setting to track their own progress, the child’s learning is continually supported.” – A pre-school in Kent