Image of children using a Sharp Interactive Touchscreen Table

Little Owls Nursery innovates with colour photocopiers and interactive touchscreen tables.

Founded by Sharon Holtby in 1992, Little Owls Nursery prides itself on offering an outstanding early years education and childcare service to parents across Scunthorpe. Beginning its life by providing services out of the Church Hall in Scunthorpe, due to growth, Sharon now manages 3 nurseries across the town, taking the number of staff in her employ from 5 to 30, and the number of children in her care to almost 200. The jump in staff and child numbers meant that existing print devices were unable to keep up with demand, and keeping children engaged was a key priority, so Sharp was called in.

Acquiring technology suitable for all

A constant challenge for Little Owls Nursery is ensuring that the activities programme is kept fresh and engaging. Director and Owner of Little Owls Nursery, Sharon Holtby says: “We have almost 200 children altogether across our three sites, which is a lot of children to keep busy and entertain!”

Another challenge for Little Owls is meeting and exceeding Ofsted requirements year after year. Sharon explains: “Early years education institutes have to work to an Ofsted framework, which comprises of 7 key areas, one of which is ‘understanding the world’, and within that is technology. It states that children should be introduced to a breadth of technology they may encounter in later life. So for us we really wanted to bring in technology that would not only fulfil the Ofsted criteria, but also give our children a head start in using such devices before advancing to reception!”

Because Little Owls caters to children of all abilities, some with autism and learning difficulties, “the next challenge was making sure anything we introduced could be used by all of the children in our care”, says Sharon. “We wanted something that could be picked up by everyone easily, including staff. Because my staff have to remain in control at all times, they can’t really afford to figure out how to use a device or correct something mid-activity.”

A final challenge for the nursery was with print. Sharon says: “Before we moved to our current site I was working out of a home office and was using a small desktop printer. Once we became Ofsted registered we had to evidence and document everything, so we needed something much more robust to support the entire business.”

A child using Sharp's Interactive Touchscreen Table

Innovative solutions that cut costs

Since Sharp’s involvement, Daisyfield has enjoyed many benefits. Joanne Said: “A lot of our old boards had a problem with the projection, but the BIG PAD picture quality is so much better. The touch is smoother like pen-on-paper - I know the teachers like having control over content again, they can freeze frame and prepare the next portion of the lesson on their laptop, so it’s really handy.”

Secondly, “Our new printer is excellent”, says Joanne. “The quality is amazing, we can print everything in-house and to a really high standard, from letters to our school prospectus booklet. We actually shopped around to see what else was out there but Sharp’s device came out on top!”

When talking about the Early Years Touchscreen Table, Joanne said: “The touchscreen table continues to be a worthwhile investment. The apps are brilliant because they work on developing fine and gross motor skills, and we’ve already noticed marked improvements in our pupils handwriting. The Yellow Door learning apps are also fantastic because they make numeracy and literacy lessons fun, and they use a feedback/reward system that keeps their learning on track.”

Costs have also been reduced. Joanne says: “Sharp worked very hard with us to drive down colour printing. PaperCut lets each person see how much they are spending and how much waste is being produced, and I can see it too! So they’re being less wasteful and not printing colour unnecessarily. Sharp helped us achieve our 40% colour to 60% mono target within 90 days which is just phenomenal.”

Joanne concludes: “Essentially it boils down to the relationship. We don’t want someone to flog us technology, we want someone that’s going to provide us with solutions, and Sharp really have done that - I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.”

Technology that helps early years learning

The most notable area where the Interactive Touchscreen Table: Early Years Edition has had an impact is in education. Sharon says: “We’ve been genuinely astonished at how the children have improved. The Yellow Door learning games have helped them to recognise numbers, letters in the alphabet, and their mark-making and handwriting is neater, which is useful because the older children are getting school-ready. They’re advancing much quicker than when we didn’t have it. One of the apps gets the children to move wobbly lines, which is also fantastic for their gross motor skills.”

Sharon adds: “All the staff think it’s fantastic. They open apps for stories and videos, we actually use the table to monitor each child’s learning journey through our learning app, so it helps us log who has done what, when, and next steps.”

Furthermore, the table is helping to encourage good behaviour. Sharon says: “Our older children have a turn-taking number system which is teaching them to be patient, it’s brilliant. They work together.”

When talking about the durability and safety of the table, “It’s not only incredibly responsive and easy to use” says Sharon, “but the reinforced glass is super handy because some of the kids when they first use it they hit it! We’ve had no problems at all, and with nearly 200 children using it it’s safe to say its durable.”

Finally, by upgrading their desktop device to a more economical MX-3061 multifunction print device, Little Owls are able to print and document what they need to. Sharon concludes: “I can’t even remember how we coped with the old machines! This new device is great, it never jams, it prints quickly, and the quality is immaculate!”

If you would like to know more about Sharp solutions and how we can help improve your business reach, please Get In Touch for a demonstration.