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Hi there

 

I am new here but very keen to share with you all.

 

I run an out of school club in a community association, we are a company limited by guarantee and registered charity. We have been asked by our local playgroup (charity) to take them over as they had so few members of the managment committe that they were in dange of closing. We agreed to take over but only if they converted to also become a Co limited by guarantee. (word of warning - make sure you know your liabilities if you are a charity only).

 

All is going well and we feel that now is a good time to re-brand and get rid of our image a cosy parents playing with the kiddies set-up. We all feel that the qualtiy standards we are expected to follow should be reflected in a new image.

 

Anyway, I have met with the playgroup's development officer and she asked is we had consulted with the parents about this. To be honest we haven't, but what do you think - should we? Or should we just announce our intentions and inform parents of our intentions to provide an ever improving provision for their children?

 

Any comments will be most welcome.

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Guest toddleo

Hello there and welcome.

 

Can you expand a little on what it actually means to be a "Co limited by guarantee?" and also expand a little on (word of warning - make sure you know your liabilities if you are a charity only).

 

Makes me feel stressy... we are a charity committee run preschool

 

Thanks!!

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Hi Reader Rabbit, :oxD

 

When you say you want a change of name so that you can get rid of the 'cosy parents playing with the kiddies set-up', why is that? Thats the kind of setting I chose for my lads and offered when I was leader.

If the charity is committee run, presumably by parents of children attending, then its the parents who own the group and so you should talk to all of them.

Have they had Ofsted inspections in the past? What did that read like?

Are they members of the PLA? That may have a bearing on what happens, as a charity if they have taken on the PLA's constitution they would have to re-name, swop ownership and close, under specific rules.

I applaud your intention to offer improvements but some parents might be happy with what they have already. But you should talk to them at a committee meeting where all parents are invited. :(

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I agree with what others have said -you should definitely consult with parents - a meeting would be best and maybe also a questionnaire for any that cannot attend -and also with the children themselves if possible, in a way appropriate to their age and level of understanding. I think that if you try and impose something you risk alienating some of the very people you are providinh the service for?

 

Good luck - let us know how you get on....and welcome to the forum! :o

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Being a company limited by guarantee means that the trustees can reduce their own personal liability to say £1, which they can't do as just a bog standard charity.

 

When you say discuss with parents do you mean the change of name, or the pre-school being taken over? The latter is essential to be discussed with parents, of course. I would be tempted not to change the name of the group, after all we are all expected to follow the same quality standards regardless of who make up the management committee. I wouldn't change the name, personally it may look like you are doing more of a take-over than anyone orginally thought.

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Hi there

 

Thanks for all of your comments so far. I may well have not put my point across very well in my first post so I'll try to respond more fully to your comments:

 

1. toddleo - as alm rightly says a company limited by guarantee does indeed mean that the members are each only liable for a set amount (in this case £1), should the organisation get into difficulty and end up with outstanding liabilities. This is not the case with a straight forward charity, where the trustees are each equally liable for paying things like redundancy payments,etc, if the organisation has run out of funds. Sadly a lot of people who become trustees are not fully aware of this liability, which in a worse case scenario could cost each member a great deal of money. It is not difficult to set up a company limited by guarantee but it does mean that you end up with a new chairty number and registered person and have to re-register with Ofsted. I am in talks with them at the moment about making sure we have no break in the two registrations.

 

2. Rea - The current mangement committee of the playgroup is made up of only 4 people, all of whom are those long suffering souls whose children left ages ago and want to leave, but no one else will take it on. This is why they approached the community association (CA) to ask for help. The committee had got the end of their tether with trying to get new blood and were ready to walk at the end the summer term, closing the playgroup down. Sadly, there is no real parental input in the managment of the group at the moment. This year's cohort have all been approached to come on board but have all declined.

 

Although the group is a member of the PLA the constitution is over 30 years old and does not really reflect what actually goes on today. The consitution makes provision for winding up the current charity so it's quite straightforward to transfer the assets to the new company (we have got legal advice ongoing about this at the moment).

 

Perhaps I didn't explain very well what I meant by 'cosy parents playing with the kiddies set-up' - by this I mean that quite a few new parents don't really appreciate that playgroups are no longer just a room full of toys for the children to play with whilst being looked after by a group of volunteers. Rather, as you all well know, they are high quality places providing learning through play (with all of the lovely paperwork that goes with it), staffed by qualified (and poorly paid, in general) committed staff.

 

3. alm - the decision to change the legal status of the group and to change the name actually came from the current trustees and it is they who have passed a resolution to change the name to one of their choice, so to be honest it is not something that the CA has forced upon them. Also it will be set up as a separate company from the CA, so it not a take over but rather a collaborative project (as we were advised to do by the charities commission).

 

The name change will serve two purposes. At the moment it is called 'X' Playgroup, and is near to 'X' Infant School (very oversubscribed). Many parents are convinced (despite being told otherwise) that the playgroup is a feeder to the school, leading to an automatic offer of a school place. This is not the case and the current staff and trustees do get a lot of grief from parents who don't get a place.

 

So, the resolution is to re-name it 'Y' Preschool - which the trustees felt would give it its own identity, whilst foccussing on the message that 'learning' takes place through play.

 

I hope that I have answered everyones points, but let me know if not.

 

However, I have taken on board your advice and think that a meeting is a good idea. This will give us the opportunity to make sure that everyone is on board with the idea and also (hopefully) avoid those kinds of misunderstandings that end up with the whole communtiy up in arms.

 

Thanks all.

 

RR

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