To think people should be a little more appreciative of volunteers entertaining their children

(53 Posts)
FillyPutty Sun 24-Feb-13 23:08:22

We went to look at a Stagecoach school.

£27/week. The owner had his Porsche parked outside in the disabled space (there were plenty of free spaces, I presume this is a Porsche thing that you park in the disabled space not to get your car scratched or something, I don't really know.)

16 children being taught to sing by one teacher.

DS was a member of a non-profit choir previously. There were about 10 children, three qualified volunteer staff and it cost less than £27 for the whole term.

He also does Scouts, again it costs less than £27 for the whole term, they do lots of activities and again several volunteers giving their time without payment.

From what I can see people don't really appreciate or respect the time given by people running these groups, and would rather sign up in droves (apparently Stagecoach are beating people off with a stick) for expensive and inferior profit-making groups.

And while Stagecoach is £27 a week, because ds2 is in an extra group he gets 4.5 hours of tuition a week for that. £6 an hour isn't so bad - cheaper than his swimming lessons, or surfing lessons, or drum lessons. He was actually offered another 3 hours on top of that as well for free, on a different day, but it clashed with ds3's swimming so we had to say no as we couldn't get him there. If he'd taken that up he would have been paying £3.60 an hour.

Bargain!

My kids go to commercial and voluntary activities. I like to think I'm nice to all of them.

I sometimes park in the disabled bay when I drop ds2 at Stagecoach. IF I have ds1 (who has a blue badge) with me. I don't always display the blue badge though because it's on private land, on a non-working day.

When ds2's Stagecoach singing teacher coached him for free in a lunch break for an audition I gave her some maltesers. When he got the part I gave her a bottle of wine grin I try to say thank you to people who do more than they have to (whether working for a voluntary or commercial activity).

DS1 also attends drama groups attached to the local (regional) theatre. They are much cheaper than Stagecoach but presumably get part funded by other organisations. (Although their sessions are shorter as well, and they may pay their staff less - I know Stagecoach pay teachers reasonably well).

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 09:30:19

teacher, ours sounds in the middle between your voluntary one and the flashy one: they do charge but not huge sums, the teachers are professional but a lot of the organising around the shows is done by parent volunteers, shows are very good (have won awards lately) but not expensive, some children do go on to drama schools

as you say, it's about choosing what suits you

I asked around and chose the non-Stagecoach option, partly because it was cheaper, partly because it was well spoken of in the community

doesn't mean Stagecoach then has to be inferior, just that I made a different choice

ReallyTired Mon 25-Feb-13 09:23:10

The only free choirs I know of for children are church choirs. Royal College of Church Music choirs are run by professional musicans, however the commitment that the children are expected to make is far higher than somewhere like Stagecoach. Most high quality church choirs are funded by the children singing at weddings which the children do get pocket money for.

However singining in a church choir is a very different experience to stagecoach. Certainly the children in an RCSM choir get excellent tution, but they also get religious instruction. (Which some parents may object to.)

Prehaps a happy medium is county organised music activites. My county offer some fanastic drama and music activites, but has no budget to advertise.

teacher123 Mon 25-Feb-13 08:42:28

I have coached for youth theatre companies for years. One group I work with is staffed pretty much entirely by volunteers and has created the most amazing performance space for them and has contributed greatly to the local area by regenerating a disused building and making it available to the local community. They have a wealth of talent in their volunteers and give their time generously and put on fantastic shows. Another group is commercial in the extreme, charge incredibly high fees per show, hire out professional theatres, but also gets great results. But they are two totally different ventures. Neither is providing a 'better' service, but the second is much flashier, has the budget to do 'bigger' shows. Both have had students go on to drama school and become successful. You pick the environment you want for your child.

Sirzy Mon 25-Feb-13 08:27:09

It would appear that this is nothing to do with volunteers and everything to do with having a go at stagecoach. Do their staff not deserve the respect you find so important?

TheFallenNinja Mon 25-Feb-13 08:19:38

It's a dangerous game to judge a company's moral merit on what's in the car park and a bit futile

Plus, porsches can scratch really badly

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 08:12:06

FillyPutty Mon 25-Feb-13 00:53:55
"I'm perfectly entitled to say that a particular part of Stagecoach is inferior to another free group. Not even close to libellous.

I haven't dealt with drama before, only music lessons (paid) and choir (voluntary), but from what I've seen the available services appear to be all/mostly commercial. Which is fine."

Fair enough but you can't expect us to believe it unless you explain exactly how you know that they are inferior.

With a theatre group, staff ratios just don't prove anything. The fact that you don't happen to want everything they provide doesn't make them inferior either.

Them not providing exactly the package you want doesn't make them inferior either. The sailing club down the road is not inferior because they do not provide horse riding, nor is is likely that the parents who sign up for it are deluded by external considerations: in all likelihood they sign up because sailing, and not horse-riding, is what their children want to do.

As you say yourself here in the above post, available drama services are commercial. It follows that if you want drama, rather than something else, you have to pay. Parents who pay have already considered this point.

MidniteScribbler Mon 25-Feb-13 01:00:58

Oh geez get over it. If you don't like their services, then don't sign your child up for it. It's none of your business what other parents do with their money.

Here is how your post should have read:
"AIBU to feel disappointed that people don't appreciate the work done by volunteers to provide activity groups for children? I am involved with a choir group and the teachers spend a lot of time chasing parents for the smalls subscription fee, to ask them to participate to raise funds to provide equipment for the group, or to help with supervising children or even just to be on time to pick them up?"

You would have had a unanimous response then. No need to talk about a business you really have no experience with, porsches, disabled parking or anything else completely irrelevant that you have gone on about.

FillyPutty Mon 25-Feb-13 00:53:55

I'm perfectly entitled to say that a particular part of Stagecoach is inferior to another free group. Not even close to libellous.

I haven't dealt with drama before, only music lessons (paid) and choir (voluntary), but from what I've seen the available services appear to be all/mostly commercial. Which is fine.

I'm sure parents all want slightly different things. We want only drama, not singing (for reasons explained), and not dance (because DS has two left feet). Obviously other parents are looking for all three, in one convenient three hour package, and no doubt they get what they pay for. Which is good, because they are indeed paying for it!

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:40:33

But if you don't know about Stagecoach qualifications, why did you refer to them as inferior in your OP? That struck me as close to libellous.

And you still haven't found me a non-charging stage school. The fact that professionals might run choirs isn't much comfort if you happen to want to act. The reason we fork out for acting lessons for dd though every school has a free choir is because she doesn't want to sing in a choir, she wants to act.

Parents aren't necessarily allured by the promise of fees: they may simply want one kind of activity and not another.

FillyPutty Mon 25-Feb-13 00:34:23

> jaw dropping slightly open at the thought that dd could have learnt more from 3 unqualified amateurs than from one professional...

Who said anything about unqualified amateurs? The man who runs the volunteer choir is a music professional with over a decade of experience. I have no idea what the qualifications are of the people running Stagecoach. They may be better or worse, they are not detailed on their glossy website, so it's hard to say.

Again, not really the point. No doubt the best commercial children's activities are very good. That's cool, people sign up for them and hopefully get what they pay for.

However in the case when you haven't paid anything, then a little engagement with and appreciation for those offering their time would be nice.

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:32:02

Show me a single stage school that does not charge fees and provides superior tuition to the ones that do charge. I challenge you- just find me one.

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:30:38

But you did say that the commercial services were inferior, as per your OP (quoting again):

"would rather sign up in droves (apparently Stagecoach are beating people off with a stick) for expensive and inferior profit-making groups"

I keep pointing out that in this particular context qualifications and experience are not inferior to higher staff ratios and you don't respond to my posts.

ivykaty44 Mon 25-Feb-13 00:30:14

what I object to is you coming along and telling me that people should appreciate something more because you say so

I appreciate the volunteers that have helped and coached my dd's over the years, given up their time for free, put time and effort in.

i think volunteers do a marvelous job

but I can tell you that without going to see a stage school that charges money to pay their staff

FillyPutty Mon 25-Feb-13 00:25:28

Picturesinthefirelight: I wasn't criticising Stagecoach's fees. IMO, if you/Stagecoach want to charge £100 a week, that's your choice, and no doubt if the opportunities and staff were good enough, then people would sign up. Lots of people run businesses relating to children, parties, entertainers, drama schools, and so on, and it's great that people have the option to purchase these services.

My point was to contrast the actual fair price for these services (£lots) with the price that people pay for volunteer-run services (next to nothing), and suggesting, as I said in the title, that people should therefore be more appreciative of volunteers' efforts.

ivykaty44 Mon 25-Feb-13 00:21:48

How do you know that I don't appreciate the volunteers that coach my dd hmm ?

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:20:21

jaw dropping slightly open at the thought that dd could have learnt more from 3 unqualified amateurs than from one professional...

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:19:20

"Obviously Stagecoach are not in the same sphere as Scouts, however in my OP I did directly compare the staffing ratio at the (essentially free) choir with the (commercial) Stagecoach singing classes."

But why should the staffing ratio matter? Surely what matters is the qualifications and skill of the teachers?

Why do you need more than 1 teacher to teach 16 children to sing in a choir or do a dance number? Surely choir singing and acting are communal activities, not a 1-1?

MidniteScribbler Mon 25-Feb-13 00:17:02

One professional fully qualified and trained teacher can much more easily manage and control a group of students than a couple of parent volunteers. They will also be able to teach much more effectively than someone without teaching training. It's why teachers are paid and parents helping out with reading activities are not.

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:16:52

Would you have the same attitude about your dd learning an instrument- that it was foolish to parent to pay for her to be taught by a professional?

Personally, I don't pay for private school, because state school teachers, like private school teachers, are actually professionally trained. But if state schools were run by hard working volunteers of no know qualifications I would be busting a gut to find the money for fees.

FillyPutty Mon 25-Feb-13 00:14:59

"so where is your evidence that Stagecoach do provide an inferior service to your Scout group?"

Obviously Stagecoach are not in the same sphere as Scouts, however in my OP I did directly compare the staffing ratio at the (essentially free) choir with the (commercial) Stagecoach singing classes.

In addition to this point, I was also comparing the relative cost of volunteer-run services, such as Scouts, with those run on a commercial basis, such as Stagecoach, and suggesting that those who are taking advantage of the goodwill of volunteers to entertain their children, should be a little more appreciative of volunteers' efforts, given that they are not even being paid for it.

MidniteScribbler Mon 25-Feb-13 00:13:10

But why wouldn't you expect more if you're paying a premium for it? I compete with my dogs. If I go to the local dog training club and pay a gold coin, I know that the person leading the class is a volunteer who may or may not have competed with their own dogs, to whatever standard they did, which may not be as high as me. I know that it's just an opportunity to train and don't expect to learn anything new. If I pay a thousand dollars for a week long seminar with an overseas visiting professional trainer, then I'm damn well going to expect that I come away from the week having learnt a lot more than I did before I went.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 25-Feb-13 00:12:41

I run a Stagecoach school. I also work for an unrelated company in the week. The car I drive (not a Porsche) is a company car belonging to my other job

When I hire the premises I park right next to the doors in the at ground/area that wouldn't normally be allowed due to the loading and unloading of lots of heavy equipment. It's my school for the day, not a public place

Fees are charged because myself and my highly qualified teachers have houses & families to pay for.

We provide tuition

I also spent today volunteering at some auditions (chsperoning children) for a show that will cost £1 per week to take part in. Dies that excuse me.

cory Mon 25-Feb-13 00:12:22

But how do you know there is an amateur outfit which teaches drama with equally qualified teachers etc?

Personally, I don't know of any stage school/youth theatre group/ballet group with professionally trained teachers which does not charge fees. I have never heard of such a group. Given how difficult it is for actors to make a living, I'd be surprised if there is one.

As it so happens, dd attends a cheaper youth theatre than Stage School. But she is taught by qualified actors with a background on the professional stage who can teach her all the tricks and tell her about life in the profession, the shows are choreographed by a professional dancer who work with them on their steps and encourages them to get involved in the choreography.

How would you say that level of expertise is inferior to that of your local Scout group?

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