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Help! Have just joined ds pre-school committee and no one knows what they are doing

(14 Posts)
mrsdelboy Sat 07-Jul-07 11:43:09

The previous committee all resigned and so everyone on the current committee is new. Someone has said that if anything goes wrong with the pre-school and say it has to close, then the committee are financially responsible. Is this true?

Also we have a list of trustees but we do not know who they are or what role they are supposed to play. What is the difference betwen trustees and committee members?

Can any one help? Thank you.

WakeUpCall Sat 07-Jul-07 13:33:17

My understanding is that if your charity is unincorporated then, yes, you are liable for the debts of the charity. Those debts would be mainly redundancy money, rent and any pre-paid grants.

Frankly after 10 years on committees at various pre-schools, my advice would be to resign today. Not much help to you I know. Pre-school committees are a huge responsibility, timesuck and very devisive. I made some great friends but also saw lots of good friendships fail under the stress of keeping groups going.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would have put mine in nursery for a couple of days a week and been done with it. Would have been much better for my whole family.

mrsdelboy Sat 07-Jul-07 16:52:25

Thanks for the advice. Mainly joined due to the fact that the pre-school would close if there was no committee.

I am a sucker for emotional blackmail and no one else was voluntearing. Now I know why!!!

alarmed Sat 07-Jul-07 16:56:20

Have a look at the Pre-school Learning Alliance website - that should answer some questions. Plus you should have an LEA contact who should be able to advise you.

No idea about trustees - sorry.

It is pretty hard work on the Committee, but I got quite a lot out of contributing to my community, and I made some good friends.

LizP Sun 08-Jul-07 09:39:28

Find out who your PLA local contact is and ask them to come out and give you the 'Committee Hand Over Pack Training'. They are only funded to do this until the end of July, so if you can't find a folder in the stuff you have been given get the training in quick - ours is going to be in the holidays as the mail was never to sent to lots of us round here and we have only just found out about it. It was sent out nationally, so your area may have been missed as well.

Our trustees have nothing to do with the day-to-day running. They are mainly there for charity commission reasons I think. I expect even they don't know what their responsibilities are. One comes to events etc and likes to see reports. The other I have never seen. Trustees have normally been linked to the pre-school at some point so may be a source of knowledge.

If the previous committee have left with such bad feeling that they wont help out what about the chair before that, are they still local? Would they meet with you for some pointers?

Where are you? Are there other local committee run pre-schools near you that could mentor you? Do your staff do training where they have made links with other pre-schools and you could get some guidance.

My experience hasn't been as bad as WakeupCall and I've enjoyed most of my time on pre-school committee. But then maybe that is because it hasn't been a struggle to keep the group running. Think I only really fell out with one person and that would have happened anyway at some stage while our children were at school, and we would never have been close friends anyway.

In your position I would get the committee pack from the PLA and then arrange a meeting with the new committee, the staff, any trustees and any of the previous committee who are willing and decide how you are going to run things from now on. Good luck!

prufrock Sun 08-Jul-07 09:55:06

You should also have a point of contact on your local Early Years support team - a council funded bady which is their to provide help to all childcare providers. Go to your councils website and look for childcare, then childcare providers

geogteach Mon 09-Jul-07 16:01:47

If your group runs using the PLA constitution it states that trustees are the chair, treasurer, secretary and between 2 and 9 elected others. The charity commission has useful documents about what it means to be a trustee on their website. If you can't find your constitution (we couldn't) the charity commision will provide a copy free of charge. Running a group is challenging but it has certainly got my brain back in gear. I am in process of rewriting our committees job descriptions so if you want some idea of what different roles do let me know and I can email it.

LizP Mon 09-Jul-07 19:33:13

you're right about that geogteach - I was thinking of the "trustees" we have, who don't get mentioned on the charity commission forms, but have been around from when the playgroup was started who I'm not sure what they do, but served a purpose at sometime. I guess our committeee never call themselves trustees, unless they are signing the form. I was just assuming (wrongly!) everyone thinks like this.

mrsdelboy Tue 10-Jul-07 05:47:49

Thanks for all of your advice. You have given me lots of pointers to start looking into. Just hope it all works out ok!

Thanks again.

lljkk Sun 15-Jul-07 14:41:44

In an unincorporated charity preschool the committee members ARE the trustees. There is no difference, from Charity Commission perspective.

Yes, trustees they could be found financially liable, but the creditors would have to prove financial negligence on the part of the trustees. This is very difficult and expensive to do in a court of law, the real risk is negligible as long as you act sensibly and promptly. I had detailed email exchanges with Charity Commission about these matters to clarify all that.

PLA is a godsend, suck 'em dry for every ounce of help they offer.

nimnom Tue 17-Jul-07 19:00:11

Just to give you a bit of moral support - I am on the Village pre-school committee & yes it is a thankless job- constantly trying to raise funds, being ignored by parents and staff alike and various other downsides. however, on the plus side we have a great pre-school which prepared my son really well for reception and will do the same for my other son when he starts next year. We're getting a lot of interest from far and wide which shows we must be doing something right.
Don't worry too much and don't be scared to ask the old committee for some pointers as well as all the other places already suggested. We often ask the old chairman for advice.
Good Luck!

bubaboy2002 Sun 17-Jul-11 19:08:52

Hi All,

Have taken over as Chair of my youngest son's preschool this April due to preschool having to close without one am fish out of water completely! Could really do with some advice on bad payers and any on how to be a good chair !!! Am a bit overwhelmed at the mo and wishing i hadnt agreed to do it but at same time do want to make a difference and help out. Any advice is gratefully recieved x

Scottie87 Wed 20-Jul-11 17:26:33

Pre school learning alliance should have someone to help you and early years... phone and get someone to talk to you
It can get very complicated... I was until recently chair and the more I dug the more there was and the more the staff lied to me so I resigned

My advice get all roles and responsibilities sorted out and make sure everyone knows what is expected.... You are the employer so make sure all the committee are aware of this

You may have to have stern words with people who will be looking after your children so please think very carefully if this is the right choice for you

I had a manager attempting to sell a computer.... without the informing or againing the authorisation of the committee.... You can imagine the conversation we had about that

Hanleyhigh Wed 20-Jul-11 17:36:34

I agree with WakeUpCall.

I (and fellow committee members) ended up at an Employment Tribunal due to the actions of previous committees.

Even with the support of the Early Years' Team and the PLA, who were great, it was a nightmare and changed everything. Two years of fighting with solicitors etc. was just so exhausting.

I would always advise people to run a mile from Pre-School Committees unfortunately, there are seemingly few limits to what you can find yourself accountable for even if you were no where near at the time.

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