During the first outbreak KCS, founded over 90 years ago, set up its Connect website to provide families with the ability to buy some of the items of stationery, cleaning materials and outdoor play equipment which schools would normally purchase in bulk. Parents were also able to access a range of arts and crafts, games, puzzles, and sports kit as well as learning resources.
The plan at the time was to offer the facility to parents through the pandemic until schools returned to normality which was expected to be last September.
However, the second lockdown has prompted KCS to step up again with an improved ordering service and a bigger range of items available to parents and carers who are tasked once again with home-learning and entertaining youngsters who are unable to attend school.
It has relaunched its website as a home-learning and support hub, working in partnership with The Education People and lesson-planning experts PlanBee.
The most important change to the site has been the introduction of a secure payment portal, so customers can now build a basket of products and pay for it securely online. This is game-changing for many parents and makes placing an order far quicker and easier.
The site also offers free next day delivery for orders over £25 (£3.95 for orders under this) and now has an increased product catalogue of over 2,500 items, handpicked to better support learning and play at home. This includes hundreds of new lines, including a range that is exclusive to KCS and includes specialist art and craft sets.
Group Marketing Manager Paul Ratcliffe said: “Connect was originally launched in March as a direct response to the pandemic, supporting teachers, parents, carers and learners through the sudden closure of schools and the instant need for home learning.
“Because of the urgency in getting it live, the original catalogue was small and focused on curriculum essentials and hard-to-find classroom resources, and a member of our customer experience team took payment over the phone. Despite this we sent thousands of orders to families all over the UK.
“We’ve now relaunched the site as a home-learning and support hub, working closely with The Education People and PlanBee, an independent partner made up of former teachers and experts in lesson-planning and classroom resources.
“As well as the ability to order and pay for our products online, we now offer an ever-growing range of downloadable and watchable content, most of it free, for parents to use as they wish. This includes educational activities and learning guides, links to videos and online lessons and, crucially, advice and information on coping with the pandemic with a focus on mental health and wellbeing.
“We have tried to build a resource that contains everything needed to support families at home.
“What’s key for us is that this remains a community support project in partnership with curriculum and teaching experts and is something that we will continue to develop.”
This comes on the back of KCS’s work with KCC and the local resilience forums to deliver more than 14million items of PPE to frontline care and support workers throughout the pandemic, as well as a critical role in the set-up and ongoing support of asymptomatic testing sites.
To contact KCS Connect, go to kcsconnect.co.uk, email [email protected] or phone 0808 281 9440.