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new preschool treasurer asking for help! (please)

(30 Posts)
bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 10:45:48

I thought I'd better stop hijacking the other thread, so have started a new one!

old thread here.. full-parents

anyway - situation is we're a small preschool (16 children max) and lost a huge amount of money last year we're solvent (just) thanks to two previous year's profits. I'm currently trying to work out our long term finances but have run into trouble. Most of my questions can only really be answered by our senior staff member. I asked her some last week, she was going to get answers to me by today, but is off sick. I'm hoping some of you more expert preschool committee members can help!

Can anyone tell me....

how much we get paid per funded (3 and 4 yo) per session (2.5hrs)?

whether we're allowed to ask parents to pay for the snack even though their children are funded? (I'm guessing we can ask for donations towards, but not make it complusary)

anything about sustainibility grants? have been told if we can prove we've got children waiting to join (when they're older) we might be able to get cash now to help us manage

do the charities commission require audited accounts every year? as I'm fairly sure we've not submitted any for the last two years trading.....

thanks for any help!

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 11:29:57

oh and also...

with the milk refunds, do we ever need to show receipts? it has been suggested that we should claim for 1/3 pt per child per session, even though we don't buy and use that amount....

TheFallenMadonna Thu 02-Oct-08 11:33:35

We get 8.25 per session, but check with your LEA.

We also expect parents to bring in the food for snacks. We don't provide them.

I'm afraid I don't know the answers to your other questions.

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 11:36:01

If you provide longer than 2.5 hours per session you can charge what you like for the extra time. It could be as little as 10 or 15 minutes and charge £2. Is it possible for you to open for longer? It would be advisable to start offering 3 hour sessions anyway because in the next year or so the vouchers will be for 3 hours anyway.

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 11:37:06

We get £9 something here in Surrey. I need to tackle the milk money so don't know, but you do need exact numbers of how many attended each day and you can backdate for 2 years.

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 11:42:09

How many children are there each day? Are you overstaffed? Would it be better to only open 4 days per week so it was full attendance on the days you are open?

What hours do your competitors offer?

Tell us lots more and we will try and help get you solvent!

You could take children from the age of 2 or 2.5 and charge them.

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 13:08:35

ok - we've been claiming for the milk, but I'm not sure how much we've been claiming for. The senior staff member sorts it and I've not quizzed her about it yet - it's on my (very long) list....

We open 4 mornings a week (5th morning hall is used for a toddler group) for 2.5 hours. We've got 12/11/10/13 children depending on the morning, most are funded (2 not). We can take up to 16 (Ofsted number I think).

The main reason we lost so much last year was the staffing costs. We had 4 staff members every morning, despite not actually being full. Also the committee from 2006/7 increased wages for last year by £1 per hour and added an extra 15 mins per session to the pay to allow for tidying up.

We've already dropped to 3 staff members per session for this year. Apparently we can't run with less than 3 (of which 2 must be qualified) which sounds reasonable 'cos of toilet trips etc).

Competition is tricky. We seem to be losing children to preschools and nursery units attached to lower schools (we're 3 tier here, so lower schools are reception to yr4). They are often open more sessions per day (afternoons and also lunchtime sessions) and every day per week.

We are based in a town center church hall, so very central, which is good. Trouble is that despite being open more than 15 years we don't seem to be very well known! we're tucked away at the top of town, with the hall hidden a bit from the main road. I know we need to advertise more, but it seems very expensive and other groups that have paid £££ for it have reported no new children brought in that way

We take children from 2y6m now and I've wondered if we started to offer places to younger children would be a good idea. Tbe staff seem a little reluctant (they seem so tiny at 2, not sure preschool is really suitable), but I thought it might give us an edge over other groups, and once we've grabbed them, we're likely to keep them!


CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 13:15:41

I think you need to push opening for 2.75 or 3 hours becaue then you can charge what it costs. Perhaps you need to point out to the staff if you don't increase numbers then the pre-school will close. Perhaps you could have a lunch club afterwards???

Having 3 hour sessions means people have more time to go home between dropping off and picking up.

Is there a glut of places in the area because if there are you may have to admit defeat and accept it is not viable anymore.

You can advertise for free perhaps on netmums, childcare link for your LEA put posters up, flyers at all the toddler groups etc.

coppertop Thu 02-Oct-08 13:27:39

Have you looked at getting money from groups that aren't directly associated with pre-schools? By this I mean that there are often community groups who will donate money to local groups, including pre-schools. Sometimes they will give you a few hundred pounds. It's not a long-term solution but might help to tide you over for a little longer.

If you hire a local hall could you ask them for a temporary reduction in rent? The fact that you are a long-term regular user group of the hall might work in your favour. If you have to close down the group then they will lose a lot more money in the long-term as it will be hard for them to find another group to take your place for those hours.

coppertop Thu 02-Oct-08 13:30:16

Have you tried contacting your local newspaper to see if they will run a "Save our pre-school" type of story? Not only will it give you free publicity but sometimes local businesses will step forward to make donations.

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 13:32:20

Yes charities need to have audited accounts submitted every year! You won't need accrual accounts but basic ones, you need an accountant to sign some bits of paper all that are supplied by the charity commisson.

peanutbutterkid Thu 02-Oct-08 13:36:13

You can charge for snacks, it's up to you. 50p/session would be about right.

Charity Commission requires you to have annual summary of finances IF anybody asks for them.

I assume your income is well below the 5k threshold (I think that's threshold) where you have to file accounts with the CC.

There's a complicated formula, dependent where you live and how many children claim for how many sessions, how they figure out what to pay per funded child, but 8-9 quid/session is about what to expect.

If you open for all day (keep children over lunch, and they continued into a funded afternoon session), then you could be in a unique position to offer nearly all-day care for a relative pittance, which is very attractive to many parents.

It doesn't cost much to advertise, many shops will let you put up flyers for free/nearly free.

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 13:37:33

ok LEA have confiremd £8.69 per session, which is better than I thought I hand't reaslied it varied by area, so thanks for telling me to contact them

I'm off to do some calculations on longer sessions. LEA have said the 15 hours funding will start Sept 2009 or 2010, depending on whether we're deprived or not. They've not made a final decision on that yet though.

I don't see how there can be a glut in places. They are building 1000s of new homes in this town, family homes as well as apratments. There must be preschool children out there....

We did approach the paper about the save our preschool thing last term. I'll have to find out what happened.

thanks again

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 13:39:31

our income was over £15k though due to funded children, so that must be above the basic threshold for the CC

will try and be brave and call them!

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 13:41:41

The charity stuff is all on line. The advantage about offering 3 hours now is that you can charge for the extra half an hour so it is worth it.

nlondondad Thu 02-Oct-08 16:02:06

Do you have a local voluntary action council? if you dont know try asking your local Council. Anyway they advise on charity status etc. Hence will advise on your accounts requirements.

But just talking to the charity commission would have merit.

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 16:42:52

I got brave and called the CC. We are 3 months late with the forms for 2006/7. They're sending me a password so I can complete the forms online.

I've never met the trustees that are currently listed as they left preschool the term before my dd started. They're husband and wife though, one was chair and the other treasurer - is that even allowed? guess it's a bit late to be worrying about that now!

The forms need to be filled in by the trustees as of the day the form is filled in. Seeing as how I only see one member of last year's committee, that's going to have to be the new committee as of this year's AGM.

Aparently we've got to submit accounts to the CC and say they're correct. But I'm not happy to do so as I've not got the supporting paperwork and the accounts haven't been audited shock

I've just googled the local voluntary action council and found them they're approx 30 m from my front door grin

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 17:43:08

I would very quickly get some legal advice and no I wouldn't sign it to say it is correct - it needs to be someone independent anyway which you aren't.

Are you members of the pre-school learning alliance as they may have some legal people to advise you also your EYFES LEA co-ordinator. Our EYFES has loads of grants on offer at the moment.

DaisySteiner Thu 02-Oct-08 21:34:41

You should be able to take more than 16 children with 3 staff unless a high proportion are under 3. (You can actually run with just 2 staff, we do on 3 mornings a week, but we have fewer children at the moment than you do).

The trouble with extending your sessions to 3 hours is that you can't force funded children to stay for the full 3 hours and pay extra, you have to let them just do 2 1/2 hours and then go home if they want and you would then still have to pay staff for the extra time with no guaranteed extra income.

We started taking children at 2 years rather than 2 1/2 and it's fine, they sometimes just need a bit longer to settle in and the other problem is that they need a higher child:staff ratio which means the overall number of children you can have at the same time is lower. It's a balancing act, but if you can get children at 2 when most other preschools won't taken them, then they tend to stay with you the whole way through.

Your numbers aren't too bad actually - certainly ours are always much lower at this time of year and we always make a profit over the year as a whole.

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 21:37:45

Yes you do have to explain to people that they don't have to do 3 hours but we bill people termly in advance so they know what they are committing to IYSWIM. You need to research the other pre-schools in the area and see what you can offer that they can't/won't.

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 21:58:38

have found out since I last posted that we can take up to 24 children, so yes we can have more than 16! the staff members I spoke to this morning (not the team leader, she's off sick) were sure we couldn't run with fewer than 3 staff members present though. Will have to quiz them further (they must love me coming in and asking all these questions!).

I've had a look at the other preschool info on CIS website and can't see anyone else running 3 hours sessions (apart from the private nuseries who offer full days).

I'm also wondering if we should look at changing the hours. It has been suggested by one of the other parents that it would be better to open at 9.15am rather than 9.30am, as at the moment there's a long gap between dropping off older siblings at (all other locals) school and preschool starting (preschool not on same site as schools). Perhaps offering an early drop off by 15 mins and charging extra would be an option. Staff are there anyway as setting up (not sure what health and safety implications are for that - kids getting underfoot might be an issue).

DaisySteiner Thu 02-Oct-08 22:03:27

I might be wrong, but I bloody well hope not because otherwise we're in trouble!

I think we probably are OK because our Early Years council worker comes in regularly and has never said it's a problem and we've been inspected by OFSTED since we started only having 2 staff on some days too.

It depends how much setting up the staff actually have to do I think as to whether it would be safe or not. If it's only getting the toys out it might be OK - we have to put everything (inlcuding tables, chairs, notice boards) away and get it out again at each session so it wouldn't be safe in our setting at all.

CarGirl Thu 02-Oct-08 22:03:37

Where I live (shortage of LEA nurseries) all the pre-school (private business & charity ones) offer more than 2.5 hours because we cannot break even on our EYFES amount. It's surrey rent & salaries are just way out there.

Send a questionnaire to parents asking what would make them use all 4 sessions what they think the strengths and weaknesses are. Would they use 2.75 hours for a small fee every session.

How much do you charge for those not in receipt of their EYFES funding

DaisySteiner Thu 02-Oct-08 22:10:14

If you only have 2 children at the moment who are under 3 then I think you could potentially drop down to 2 members of staff on the days when you have 10/11 children. No, it's not ideal, but then needs must sometimes if it helps you stay open. As I understand it, the rules are that you must have the correct ratios (1:4 for children under 3 and 1:8 for those aged 3 and 4), have a level 3 member of staff and 50% of the remaining staff must have level 2, but nothing to say that there must be a minimum of 3 staff.

bumpybecky Thu 02-Oct-08 22:25:17

well we have to get everything out for each session, but they're paid 30 mins setting up time. I figured (in my completely non expert way, having never set up preschool!) that they could set up the big stuff for the first 15 mins, then let in the early starters, and continue setting up for the bit without all the kids......

makes perfect sense to me!

I will be sending out a questionnaire to parents, but there are so many options (start early, finish later, lunch club etc) I'm worried they'll get confused! might need to have a meeting to explain, (not sure they'd turn up!)

At the moment we have 11 funded + 1 unfunded, 10 funded + 1 unfunded, 8 funded + 2 unfunded, 11 funded + 2 unfunded

But some of the staff are unqualified. I know we need a minimum 50% qualified in any session, but not sure about the remaining 50% at level 2. Does that mean if we have only 2 staff they both need to be qualified? and if we've only got two of them, is that OK for toilet trips? we'd briefly have 1 staff member with more than 8 children (while the second staff member took child to loo).

Also for ratios, does it depend on the atcual age? I know that soudns silly, but I've heard of OFSTED counting 4yo as 5yo in some circumstances. One of out unfunded children is now 3 (birthday just after cut off for funding), would she still couhnt as 2 as she's not funded?!

We charge £6 per session for unfunded children (last increase was Jan 08, previously was £5). We will probably increase in January, but at the moment it will only affect 1 child (the other unfunded child will be funded by then).

more thanks for all the help and advice

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