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Preschool politics -- are they inevitable?

(13 Posts)
lljkk Thu 12-May-05 20:25:17

How do you resolve things when staff don't like something the committee want to do? Who "runs" the preschool, staff or committee?

lljkk Thu 12-May-05 21:12:23

everyone else has really lovey-dovey relations between their preschool/playgroup & the committee, then?

JulieF Thu 12-May-05 21:24:22

I would imagine that as the committee employ the staff then the staff run things, though they may chose to employ a manager/head to deal with the day to day running.

No experience of this myself though, apart from being a school governor in the past.

coppertop Thu 12-May-05 21:25:24

It's usually the committee who make the big decisions IME but after consulting the staff to get their input.

lljkk Thu 12-May-05 21:34:53

Everyone is muttering that the committee "runs" things but apparently the lead member of staff thinks she should be able to veto ideas and it has created bad feeling on the committee (who didn't have a chair person for awhile)... I am new to the committee (so is the chairperson) and we don't really understand how to handle things... do we talk to the staff member direct about what is her job (educating) and what is ours (fund-raising, non-educational events) or take a softly softly approach with her?

Any advice?

coppertop Thu 12-May-05 22:06:09

I was on ds1's pre-school committee. The staff are allowed to come in to the meetings to give their opinions but it is the committee who have the final say. What kinds of things is this person vetoing?

choccychic Thu 12-May-05 22:07:33

It's interesting to hear that you are having similar (I think) experiences to those we have had in our pre-school. At the end of the day the committee is the responsible body under both OFSTED and the Charities Commission so sometimes we have to take a fairly firm line, but mostly we try to go for the getting everyone involved approach. A staff member attends the committee meeting and vice-versa. A common and true point we hear a lot from our supervisor is that as the committee may change each year the staff provide some continuity in decision making.Do you have any specific areas of contention? I can happily tell you how we deal with specifics if it is of any help? ( Not that it is necessarily the right way of course!!)

lljkk Sat 14-May-05 12:27:57

For instance,

The preschool put on a fun day at end of summer term. It's "always" been a free-of-charge day (bouncy castle, face-painting, entertainer, all paid for out of preschool funds that we the committee raised, preschool is a charity, too).
The committee would like to have some fund-raising stalls there this year... the staff think that some parents really can't afford to pay (20p for a decorated biscuit, etc.), although we are in an average area economically. Why should parents who are very skint be excluded from the fun day?

Staff say that parents will remember it was all free last year, why should they have to pay anything, parents might be annoyed & give staff grief, or slag off the preschool around town -- but the preschool normally has a waiting list, I will have had to wait almost a year to get my dd (now 3) in there. I suppose preschool does have a good reputation, which it does want to protect, or it wouldn't be full at the beginning of the year, every year.

Committee are as annoyed as anything about staff insisting "no stalls". We are running a raffle on the day for certain, at least.

The staff wants to run a big party for the preschool's up-and-coming 30th anniversary. I think staff want a huge school-Fete-like party, licensed, lots of activities, raffle to the public, etc., but the committee thinks that's totally unrealistic.

Problem is that for a while nothing was getting discussed properly when it was first suggested, then the staff think it's a go ahead, now we have to tell them we've changed our minds.

Don't think our committee normally sends anybody to their staff meeting, should we? Is that usual?

It's all so sensitive & political, that's why I started the thread. Is this kind of wrangling normal, inevitable?

choccychic Sat 14-May-05 18:02:10

Such a huge topic, I could waffle on all day! We started attending staff meetings because we had a year group at pre-school with some fairly challenging behaviour. Some of the staff felt that the supervisor was not taking a firm enough line and felt unsupported , but they had no formal channel through which to communicate with the committee. As a committee we felt that it was important that we understood what actions had been taken and that we were comfortable with them, especially as we are responsible to OFSTED etc. Attending the meeting ensures that we hear the views of all the staff in a formal setting, not just what the (excellent) supervisor passes on.

You might be interested to hear that we have our sports day tomorrow, at which we have just cancelled stalls! Mainly because we struggle to man them and we have loads of other events during the year when we have plenty of fundraising opportunities. It does always seem to be a bit of a diplomatic training course being on the committee, so many views and feelings to take into account! You must all be doing pretty well though to be able to afford any large scale free events, we do a Xmas party and subsidised school trip but thats about it for free.
Do you mind me asking what your fees are like?

Sorry, told you I could go on all day!!

WideWebWitch Sat 14-May-05 18:05:50

When I was chair of a pre school the committee agreed everything democratically, by vote. The staff were welcome to come to the meetings but iirc the constitution said they couldn't vote. But we had a similar situation to yours lljkk in that the lead staff member thought she ought to have more of a say than everyone else, it was v irritating. Anyway, she didn't get her way. I don't think yours should either. Take a vote, point to the constition (and if there isn't one, talk to the pre school learning alliance, I think we only had their bog standard one) and do whatever the majority want. That#s what I'd do anyway. Playgroup politics always used to really do my head in! Good luck!

ponygirl Sat 14-May-05 18:34:40

Blimey. I was looking at active convos just now and saw the thread title and thought I'd done some strange telepathic thread-starting thing! We have exactly this problem at our pre-school. I am in fact having an email ping-pong match this afternoon over concerns that I have raised with the committee and staff over a major issue that we currently have.

We've got into a bit of a tricky situation over the last few years where, having struggled to get committee members, we've become over-reliant on the staff in terms of their input/advice on how to run the pre-school and now they think they run the place (or ought to). I have enormous repect for our joint playleaders, and for the job they do, but I think the line has blurred between the responsibilities of the two. It doesn't help having a weak chair: I don't blame him really, he got volunteered in his absence by his partner! I'm not sure how we get out of the situation now, though, without putting noses out of joint. We're in a small village, so there aren't endless numbers of people to be involved and do the jobs that need doing.

I'm in a funny position on this one, atm, as I've been a parent with a child at the pre-school for nearly four years and still have two to go. I was treasurer for three years but managed to get someone else to take it on this year, and now I'm technically staff as I help out on one afternoon a week while an assistant is training. I retain voting rights though, so I have a foot in each camp.

I think the crucial position is a strong chairperson. A little voice at the back of my head says I should step up and volunteer, but I really don't want the responsibility, and don't think I'd handle the personal politics very well. Aaaargh! that's what I say!

ponygirl Sat 14-May-05 18:35:15

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is, probably, yes!

coppertop Sun 15-May-05 18:21:38

I agree with www's idea of referring the staff back to the constitution. It's the role of the committee to take charge of these things.

FWIW I honestly don't believe that having stalls where people pay is going to put people off the pre-school. IME parents choose pre-schools on the basis of how good it actually is rather than how much they charge at fun-days etc. If the staff want to have funds available then they have to understand that this money has to come from somewhere.

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