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Deputy Chief Academic Officer

Developing an industry-first digital learning platform to give the best possible start in life for more than 40,000 children every day has been 30 years in the making. A vision that’s only become a reality over the last 12 months.

Busy Bees is one of the largest and most renowned childcare providers, operating more than 350 nurseries in the UK and more than 500 globally. Founded over 35 years ago by Marg Randles and John Woodward, their mission is to provide exciting, innovative care for children to give every child in their care the best start in life. Employing 10,000 practitioners in the UK alone, they deliver learning to over 40,000 children every day.

30 years ago, Marg had a vision for a tool that could be used by everyone across the business to deliver a world-class learning and development experience for the children in the care of Busy Bees. Working in partnership with 383 for the past 12 months, this vision has become a reality.

The result was a platform that consists of a web app, native app and an API, providing Busy Bees with a future-proofed solution that can be scaled out internationally. Featuring a bespoke CMS for dynamic content updates, the native apps for both iOS and Android, provide a rich set of content covering audio, video and interactive experiences that allow practitioners to deliver innovative childcare. It also includes a version for parents, allowing them to extend learning at home and on the go, giving parents a greater degree of inclusion in their child’s development.

At Canvas, you’ll hear jointly from Busy Bees’ deputy chief academic officer Yvonne Smillie and 383 Product Director Leon Barrett, the insider story on how this vision was made a reality through three stages - imagining, defining and building the platform. You’ll get an insight into the tools and methodologies used - from stakeholder and customer insight through to physically designing and building the product. Expect to hear not only how the product was created first-hand, but how the client-agency relationship was redefined through a true partnership. Launching fully in September, the timing is perfect to give you an insider view at Canvas of what it took to design and build the new product.

Our Speakers

We seek out speakers at the cutting edge of their particular discipline or industry, who can share their insights of building exceptional digital experiences. You’ll get actionable insights from each and every one that you’ll be able to take away and start to apply in your day to day.

Introducing our rockstars

Introducing our rockstars


Lisa Vigar

Senior Product Manager


Ella Fitzsimmons

Head of Narrative Strategy


Stephanie Donald

UX Designer


Lucy Blackwell

Chief Experience Officer


Martyn Reding

Head of Digital Experience


Rebecca Dibb-Simkin

Product & Marketing Director


Rob Muir

Chief Digital Officer



Keep your eyes peeled

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