Preschool committee advice needed please!

(20 Posts)
Domino2512 Sat 21-Sep-13 14:52:54

Hi all.

Feeling a little out of my depth and hoping for some advice please! My son has been at a charity run preschool for a little over a year now and I've been roped into joining the committee..... I was happy to do this as it was explained that it would only involve an hour a month meeting with occasional fund-raising duties. However, the treasurer resigned a few months ago and a new one is yet to be appointed and it was raised two months ago that the chair is unable to obtain a CRB check because he worked abroad for a period of time and to get the necessary paperwork would cost thousands of pounds. Does anyone know what will happen should we not have a treasurer or chairperson? It all looks a bit sad at the moment!

Many thanks for reading!!

Ineedmorepatience Sat 21-Sep-13 18:16:21

As far as I know you cant run without a committee, you definitely need a chair, a treasurer and a secretary afaik.

How much do you love your pre-school??

In my area we have gone from 4 to one very over subscribed one [where i work] in around 7 years sad

You might need to mobilise your community, good lucksmile

Goldmandra Sat 21-Sep-13 20:32:02

I would suggest contacting the Charities Commission for advice.

FinnTheHuman Sun 22-Sep-13 16:18:44

Ask your early years advisor for some support. They will advise you on the correct route to proceed along to get a committee up and running again. It doesn't take too long to end up running with a poorly informed committee managing by the skin of their teeth.

You cannot run without a committee and will have to inform parents that they need to become involved or the preschool will have to close it is as simple as that.

The committee run model is just awful and with the demands of ofsted, the charity commission as well as the actual running of the business I don't see how it can be sustainable in the long term.

We have found that parents have so many demands on them that becoming involved can sometimes be damaging to their well being. Preschools should be a support to families, and I feel the committee structure leads to stress, backbiting and sleepless night.

Mention the idea of a community interest company to the early years advisor and see if any local preschools have gone down that road.

Good luck, having been on the committee side and the staff side I can say it can be utterly pants.

lougle Sun 22-Sep-13 22:25:41

<shudders>
The bottom line is that you have a big problem.

Ofsted will require the Chair to become a 'Suitable Person'. The 'chair' can't possibly be the 'chair' because they don't have a DBS (old CRB) check. They actually can't be on the committee without it.

The Committee has to have a treasurer, chair and secretary. You need to advertise the roles. If no-one steps forward, you must tell the parents that should no-one step forward, the preschool will have to close.

If, after doing this, there is no response, you must call an Extraordinary General Meeting, where you state that if no-one fills the roles, the preschool will close on X date.

On that date, you shut the doors.

You could see if the PLA will help you, or ChildrensLinks. They can sometimes parachute some support in on a temporary basis.

It's awful, truly. Our preschool closed the doors in 2011 and I'm still trying to finalise the affairs.

ShadeofViolet Mon 23-Sep-13 17:04:01

Do you have a preschool learning alliance co-ordinator? They should be able to help you.

The charities commission also put restrictions on the percentages on parents/non parents you have on the committee. I think its 60/40.

And I agree with Lougle - the chair cant be a chair without the DBS checks being clear.

Could you do it?

Domino2512 Mon 23-Sep-13 17:36:37

Thankyou so much for all of your replies

The current chair will announce at the next meeting next month if he has been able to gather the relevant checks (unlikely) and then it will be asked of somebody else to take over.....

I am considering stepping up as I actually have a level 5 qualification in early childhood studies. However, I've read so many horror stories on here about how difficult it can be and how huge the workload Is that I don't know that I really want to!

The staff aren't very respectful of the committee and always seem to be fighting against them. I currently have a great relationship with them which I feel benefits my child, I'd hate my becoming Chairperson to jeopardise that.

I'd better get thinking!

ShadeofViolet Mon 23-Sep-13 18:34:18

But if he hasn't completed the relevant checks he isn't the chair, so it may still be the person who was chair before who still holds the position.

I am a chairperson of our local playgroup. There is quite a bit of work to be done, but it also depends on how much work the staff do. I don't do the self evaluation forms for example, the staff do that, but I do work on admissions and making sure we are full, staff appraisals, other admin, making sure we keep our heads above water etc.

The staff need to realise that without a committee there will be no playgroup and they will have no jobs. Is there anything in particular staff are unhappy about?

lougle Mon 23-Sep-13 20:02:08

He isn't the Chairperson unless he's had his 'Suitable Person' interview and has been approved. If he hasn't had his DBS check, then he isn't actually entitled to sit on the Committee at all.

ShadeofViolet Mon 23-Sep-13 22:54:48

And without a DBS check I doubt he has filled out an OFSTED EY2 form, which registers all committee members.

What is the demographic of parents? Are they likely to want to rally round?

PrimalLass Mon 23-Sep-13 22:58:54

Check the constitution as the office bearers may not have to be parents. We considered drafting in members of the community so that the committee didn't keep changing.

Domino2512 Tue 24-Sep-13 16:47:22

As I understand it he has filled out the relevant forms and obtained a uk CRB check. However, as he he was abroad for X number of years he also needs a certificate from that country. Without this certificate the checks are not "complete".
The staff are lovely girls but appear annoyed that the committee "employ" them when most know nothing about childcare/running a business. The manager seems to do everything and the committee do nothing, possibly what is causing some of the resentment......

lougle Tue 24-Sep-13 17:13:07

Both the manager and the committee need to realize that the committee is legally responsible if the much hits the fan. Not the manager. All committee members are individually responsible and can be pursued in the event of a problem. If the preschool goes into debt, they can end up paying that debt and there is no protection.

Also check that last year's account has been filed with the charities commission, because it's due soon.

lougle Tue 24-Sep-13 17:13:08

Both the manager and the committee need to realize that the committee is legally responsible if the much hits the fan. Not the manager. All committee members are individually responsible and can be pursued in the event of a problem. If the preschool goes into debt, they can end up paying that debt and there is no protection.

Also check that last year's account has been filed with the charities commission, because it's due soon.

gintastic Tue 24-Sep-13 17:20:31

Didn't want to read and run but I'm dealing with kids ATM. Will be back later, I took over a committee as chair in similar circumstances 2 years ago and we are doing brilliantly now. But it is hard hard work, but v rewarding.

gintastic Tue 24-Sep-13 17:43:08

OK, kids fed and watching beebies.

I became chair when the entire previous committee quit en masse, I had a serious outstanding complaint from a parent that hadn't been dealt with and a seriously pissed off and demoralised staff/manager.

I started by laying it bare with the staff that yes, I knew nothing. But this was how it was, and they nor I had much choice in the current set up. They seemed willing to work with me, especially the manager, which got us on a better foot.

The childcare development office for the county (if you are Oxfordshire they are amazing!) sat down and went through everything with me.

If you are solvent, consider employing an administrator. I did this for 6 hours a week and now she deals with all the invoices and funding stuff which really helps.

If you are not solvent, you do have big problems. Committee members have financial liability for preschool debts, which unfortunately includes redundancy payments for the staff.

Consider converting to Charitable Incorporated Organisation status, which removes the committee liability.

The first year was horrible. Second better. I'm just starting my third year as chair, and it now takes me a couple of hours a week plus extra round fundraising times.

You do really need to get the parents on board though...

PM me if you need any hand holding, you name it we've been through it in the last 24 months. (Complaints, landlord woes, threatened financial ruin and mice. And lots more!)

If you don't want to be involved, then resign at your AGM. Don't feel guilty, you can only do what you can do. The staff may be able to run it themselves as a community interest company, your preschool advisor will be able to help :-)

Good luck! We are now oversubscribed with happy staff and children, it can be done. And a fantastic group of involved parents, going from strength to strength.

Domino2512 Thu 26-Sep-13 13:44:13

Gintastic, trying to PM you but it's not allowing it?

Thankyou all for your replies, I will let you know what happens at the next meeting....

gintastic Thu 26-Sep-13 17:19:15

Domino, see if you can reply to my PM? Will send you my email address if not.

Domino2512 Thu 26-Sep-13 18:12:40

Gintastic, have replied, please let me know if you receive it!

gintastic Thu 26-Sep-13 18:21:47

Yup got it.

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