Busy Bees Australia takes shape as centre openings and acquisitions bed down
The last twelve months have been very busy for Busy Bees Australia Chief Executive Officer Rob Hughes. After having managed the transition from Foundation Early Learning to new owners, the UK headquartered Busy Bees, he set about laying the foundations for the groups next phase of growth in Australia.
Commenting on the post transition period Mr Hughes noted that “Since, our acquisition by Busy Bees in 2018 we have been busily integrating our systems and processes into the global group, as well as scaling up the business to support the planned strategy within Australia.”
Busy Bees Australia currently has 52 centres in its network, spread across Queensland (19 centres), Western Australia (15 centres), the ACT (8 centres), New South Wales (7 centres). Northern Territory (2 centres) and Victoria (1 centre).
32 of these centres transitioned to Busy Bees in June of last year, with the balance having been acquired or built since. The most recent acquisition, the six centre WA based Maragon Early Learning Services group, followed last year’s acquisition of ten Go Kindy group centres and three of their development sites.
Focus on quality amplified by high standards of Busy Bees UK
Busy Bees Australia currently has 81 per cent of its services rated as meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS) and continues to focus on improving quality standards across the network. Part of the pursuit for quality comes via more traditional means such as ongoing investment in teams, environments and premises, however the Group is also starting to access the huge pools of experience in their parent organisation to ensure that the Australian network captures the best in global best practice.
The parent of Busy Bees Australia, Busy Bees Childcare, is headquartered in Staffordshire, England, and has been involved in the delivery of early learning services in the UK for over 35 years. The Busy Bees operation was founded by three teachers who were not able to find quality care for their own children, deciding to create the kind of care they believed their own children deserved.
Two of the three founders are still involved in the business with one of them, Marg Randles, the driving force behind the delivery of exceptional quality standards through her position as Chief Academic Officer.
Over 98 per cent of the 375 UK Busy Bees centres have achieved a quality rating of “good” or above in the UK assessment and rating system – roughly equivalent to Australia’s meeting or exceeding the NQS. In addition, Busy Bees UK were recent recipients of the Queens Award for Enterprise for their work in promoting opportunity through their sister company, Busy Bees Training Academy.
The Training Academy, which is rated as “Outstanding” under the UK tertiary regulatory system, delivers management qualifications, apprenticeships and short courses to existing Busy Bees staff and external candidates.
Global educational conferences and educator exchanges increasingly prominent
The Busy Bees group is a global operation, with a presence in Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and China, in addition to the UK and Australia, 607 long day care centres worldwide. A spokesperson for the company said it is this foundation of strength that creates a network of experience that is “unparalleled in the early childhood education and care sector globally.”
Speaking with Mr Hughes, he outlined the plans for Busy Bees Australia to tap into that network of expertise via annual education conferences, with the next to be held in Malaysia in June this year, and a global educator exchange program which enables Australian based educators to experience first hand the practices of other countries ECEC professionals and vice a versa.
Australia will be the host of the next Busy Bees Talent Exchange Program this year, with Mr Hughes noting the excitement of the Australian team to be welcoming educators from across the network to Australia later in 2019.
The educators will spend three weeks collaborating in centres in Australia and will observe practice as well as exchanging ideas that will add value to their global network of knowledge and best practice.
Commenting on the outcomes of last year’s Global Best Practice Exchange Program Mr Hughes noted that Australian participants had found the experience a valuable one.
“The experience they had plus the ideas and knowledge they brought back has added to the early learning and care we provide every day.” Mr Hughes said.
The global nature of the company provides opportunities for those working for Busy Bees to work internationally, with Australian educators being sought after internationally, as well as having opportunities to leverage from the company’s Australia wide presence. Equally, many educators from within the network welcome the opportunity to work within Australia.
New energy brought to centres through Busy Bees buyout
The Australian team have felt a renewed sense of energy, Mr Hughes said, through the influence of Busy Bees, as the group seeks to deliver on their vision to provide all the children in their care with the best start in life.
Over the course of 2019 the Group has been undertaking a re-brand of their entire portfolio including refurbishing of buildings, deployment of new and consistent signage and branding, provision of new resources and furniture, and the rollout of a standard uniform across our portfolio.
This, Mr Hughes said, has brought a sense of excitement to the Group, with educators and leaders feeling as though they are part of something bigger than just their own service and something that has global opportunities for them to learn and develop.
“Our entry into the global Busy Bees group has definitely re-energised many of our services and staff with the possibilities that lie ahead,” said Mr Hughes.
With the foundations now in place, the Australian team can focus on key priorities that will enable them to continue to fulfil their mission “to deliver high quality childcare and exciting learning opportunities for every child, giving them a head start as they prepare for school” to more and more children across Australia.
For more information on Busy Bees Australia please click here.