Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Voluntary Committees


 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all! I am having a little rant which I hope will lead to advice. Here goes....

 

I am a Playleader in a village Playgroup and we are 'run' by a voluntary committee (I say run very loosely). Now don't get me wrong my committee are very useful but we have such a problem finding new members for the next year. We are currently begging parents to think about joining our committee for this coming September and out of 15 children, we have only had one parent say yes. How am I supposed to find members when we can't even get parental support for fundraising activites (there's another rant for a later date), let alone mention the word Chairperson or Treasurer???

 

Voluntary committees seem a very prehistoric concept. Yes they have their place and it makes my job somewhat easier in that the buck doesn't always stop at me. But I end up dealing with a lot of the staffing issues/Ofsted issues etc, which I believe is down to the Chairperson and I am guessing that only a very small percentage of committee members know anything about the early years sector. My committee first and foremost listen to me, which is great but I fear that when a new committee comes on board this may not be the case and they have the power to over rule me, even though they may not have any experience of early years.

 

Now in their defence, I understand that they are voluntary and being a Chairperson or Treasurer takes up a lot of their free time and I am very grateful for this, so they are not to be moaned at, but what I do moan at is the concept. Which makes me wonder if any other committee run Playgroups have this problem or have found an alternative or are allowed to have an alternative?

 

All comments gratefully received! - This is a huge worry for me! :o

(I am absolutely sure that there are some successful committees out there who do a fantastic job! What is your secret?)

 

Playplayplay

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Boy have we all had a rant about this - I even wrote to the PSLA. I do believe that it's outmoded, yes, and especially galling as we all become more qualified. Ok, when I first started with playgroup 26 years ago, the people running it were just parents like me with no training at all, and I could see that a committee-led idea was a good one, a co-operative almost. But nowadays I do think it's time for a re-think of the system

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ooh yes I so agree with you, play play play.

 

We are in the same boat. We only changed to committee run 7 years ago and we had a committee who were all great friends and got very involved (perhaps too involved as we the staff thought at the time ie who were they to tell us how to do our jobs?) and we had a lot of ups and downs and falling outs.

 

Since then it has calmed down and we are all a happy bunch, the original chair stayed for 4 years and did a lot of work and I did feel she knew what was what, but since her children left, no one has really got to grips with what's required. The committee think they're doing their bit by organising the odd bit of fundraising (with a lot of input from staff) but everything else is left to me to organise.

 

In a way its easy as they will agree to whatever the staff say - we are lucky enough to be full and financially stable - but I have had enough of taking responsibility for everything. However, if we asked the committee to do more, I think most would run a mile and we would have no volunteers for next year.

 

Having said that, we do have 2 or 3 willing committee members and I have my eye on one of them to take over as Chair next year - if we can tactfully persuade the current chair that she could stand down! - but realistically I don't think even she would be able to take on everything, its just too much to learn for 1 year in the role.

 

That's the problem, parents are only with us for 2 years (unless they have conveniently spaced children 2 years apart), for the first year they are reluctant to get involved, then when they get to know us they may come on the committee, but only for a year till their child leaves.

 

Aaagh, sorry for the rant!

 

Jo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

We have problems every year getting a committee, and it can be hard work and emotionally draining getting the committee to actually do their jobs, because they don't understand what we need. Having been a parent on our boy's pre-school committee years ago, and now being a pre-school supervisor, I can fully understand both sides. However, if you are a PLA member you can now, with the parents' approval, adopt their new constitution which allows staff to be on the committee. The constitution and background info are both downloadable from the PLA website.

 

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too was a playleader in a committee run group and vowed when I left that I would never go back to one! I know that there are good committees and some very professional committee members. Often these are the very people who go on to work in the sector - it was the route I took. However, things have changed radically and there is now too much for a committee to take on without any training. The new PSLA constitution just doesn't acknowledge the underlying problem as far as I am concerned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am also playgroup leader in our village playgroup and at the moment fed up with our committee, nothing ever gets done unless me and another member of staff do it, meetings are a complete waste of time as once again anything that is discussed doesn't get done. It is our AGM in May and I don't think we'll get anyone to come on, we are going to adopt PSLA new constitution where I was thinking of being on committee again (i was before i became staff) but i keep thinking why should I. I have enough to do with planning etc. Our treasurer thinks she's the boss and only does what she wants to do ,never puts it through the committee and keeps saying we've no money and if we need any equipment or stock we have to buy it ourselves because she won't give us any money she's also trying to cut our wages which is already hardly anything. I feel like packing it all in because it's not worth it but then i look back at all the work i've done over the last few months and i just can't.

Sorry for moaning but i'm fed up of it all, my holidays are taken up doing playgroup stuff luckily my kids like helping, it's just annoying when certain committee members tell you not to get in touch as they want a playgroup free week, if only I could.

Clare x :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Voluntary committees seem a very prehistoric concept. Yes they have their place and it makes my job somewhat easier in that the buck doesn't always stop at me. But I end up dealing with a lot of the staffing issues/Ofsted issues etc, which I believe is down to the Chairperson and I am guessing that only a very small percentage of committee members know anything about the early years sector...

 

My committee first and foremost listen to me, which is great but I fear that when a new committee comes on board this may not be the case and they have the power to over rule me, even though they may not have any experience of early years.

 

Now in their defence, I understand that they are voluntary and being a Chairperson or Treasurer takes up a lot of their free time and I am very grateful for this, so they are not to be moaned at, but what I do moan at is the concept.

 

I totally agree with the above – its very true that we could do without committees but yet they are useful in a way...despite everything we know about the challenges of this set up it, for many groups (and especially supervisors who want to remain hands on with the children) it seems easier to keep them than to change things. I don't know what the answer is.

Even with staff now able to be on the committee I don't see what difference it will make...we go to every meeting, contribute to them and implement what is discussed...the only thing we cant do is vote.

 

Any other profession has a 'proper' manager who knows the requirements, knows how to support and develop staff, works with them, is deeply involved in and knows all the ins and outs of the organisation and is a long term feature of the group....this helps the whole company to develop and move forward. If the manager resigns they hire another....rarely does a company close when its manager moves on!

 

Pre-schools with voluntary committees are I think always going to be struggling - they are in effect going up a down escalator -

You can get to the top (outstanding) but there are forces sending you backwards and it takes twice as long (if your lucky) and you have to work twice as hard, to make it as you would if you were on the up one.

You have to maintain focus and concentration on every step or else you trip, fall or just get swept back down because it all gets too much.

 

In effect the staff are on their own...they have to manage themselves, develop themselves and motivate themselves...and manage their managers! Ridiculous.

If we have to have them then the parents who come onto committees should be trained and coached through it all by the early years advisors...not just for the first few months but as an ongoing thing...so that they too remain accountable to someone who knows what they are doing!

Its all very well ofsted coming along every four years or so and 'checking up' but that means that most committees can just float along doing the minimum they need to and then move on never having fulfilled their obligations.

 

In one possible future scenario maybe groups in one area should be assigned an advisor with specific management responsibility for several groups (say four each) and they could share their expertise around them...working with committee and staff. The groups they serve could even share in paying their wages to secure the support and committment they need! Maybe that'd be a career progression option for EYP'S....

 

We have had committee that leave it all up to staff and just 'rubber stamp' things, then committees that do try to tell staff what they should be doing (even though they don't know because they haven't even bothered to do any research...) and put demands on staff that they do not think through – extra hours, new initiatives etc.

Mostly you get a committee where one or two people want to be there and really do their best to help. They recognise that when it comes to day to day stuff you do know best and let you get on with it but because others on the committee are only there because closure was threatened these people are not supported, find themselves doing too much, resent that and eventually things break down and then they cant wait to resign!

In the past few years committes have really let me down when I needed support and my advice, suggestions or cautions are ignored.

Clareec...we too have committee meetings that feel like 'groundhog day'!, committee members who make desisions without consulting the others and want their holidays free...the things we put up with huh! xD

I do feel very isolated and frustrated at times.

In September we will again need to get new parents onboard...and every year it gets harder. The fact is right now any committee is better than none.

 

Sorry this is a long one...just gotta let it out sometimes! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe we should all be saying these things to the PSLA

Perhaps you should, but bearing in mind that community run groups are the very bedrock of their ethos it is hard to see what can or will change. Perhaps you need more direct action and at a local level. Someone on here (sorry you'll know who you are but your name escapes me!) works at a setting which is a workers' co-operative and there have been lots of discussions about not for profit companies etc.

 

If you're lucky enough to have a Development Worker (and we in Maidenhead and Windsor don't because we have no local branch) then I guess s/he will be the focus of your lobbying. If your Local Authority can't help with committee training then the PLA should be able to - but if you want things to change then you need to get active and vocal and make things happen. There's nothing like a Development Worker being inundated with extra and unexpected requests for help to get things moving - its an effective way of getting messages passed up the command chain!

 

Are your committee members happy with the status quo? I'm guessing not since so many groups find it hard to find new committee members. They take on a huge respsonsibility without benefit of training or a salary and are are often cited as the cause of so many difficulties that I wonder why anyone would be interested in being on a committee of a pre-school.

 

Has anyone looked at the consitution of the PLA itself and how to go about getting a resolution passed at the AGM? Perhaps now is the time to get organised and face the organisation with a united front so that you get your voices heard. Venting your spleen on here is a good start and a great way to answer that "is it just me?" question. Clearly this isn't just a matter of one or two disaffected individuals: there is a common thread appearing each time committees are discussed on here. Maybe its time to draw up a manifesto for change and see what you can do to make it happen?

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I never thought my thread would have this effect! Pleased that others agree with me, something surely has to be done. How can a setting such as mine shine when it's committee changes every year? I am restricted by what I can do as a manager as the visitng professionals say the Chair should be doing it but I am the only constant 'thing' (can't think of the word, 'person' would be better!). The more I think about it the more daft it sounds! No other vitally important organisation does things this way!

 

 

AAAAAAaHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

 

Hope that made sense. When I rant my brain runs slower than my typing fingers. What can be done then my fellow ranters?

 

Playplayplay

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I never thought my thread would have this effect! Pleased that others agree with me, something surely has to be done. How can a setting such as mine shine when it's committee changes every year? I am restricted by what I can do as a manager as the visitng professionals say the Chair should be doing it but I am the only constant 'thing' (can't think of the word, 'person' would be better!). The more I think about it the more daft it sounds! No other vitally important organisation does things this way!

 

 

AAAAAAaHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

 

Hope that made sense. When I rant my brain runs slower than my typing fingers. What can be done then my fellow ranters?

 

Playplayplay

 

When I said that a few months ago someone pointed out that the county is run by a committee (Government) so we're possibly floggin' a dead 'orse!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Been there and done it, but now I'm on the committee and really try my best to do as much as possible.

 

The PLA have changed over the years partly because of their own aims and partly because of more and more parents working so not being able to give the time to the groups. There used to be regional and county offices, here in the Midlands we still have them but they dont do what they used to. The area training co-ordinator has an area from Hereford to Birmingham to cover since the regions were changed. The DWs dont have the same remit anymore, they are more office based than even a few year ago with more of their role being taken over by the Birmingham early years dept., of which I know very little except they havent been out to my playgroup yet!

I think this thread should be sent to the PLA. Yes, parents are the bedrock of the PLA, but nothing is the same now as it once was. The PLA used to stand for groups, be an umbrella that groups could shelter under knowing there was a bigger organisation who could help them with various needs, even as far as supplying resources at a reduced cost. Those things dont happen anymore, not only because the PLA stopped doing things but also because the groups stopped using them, and sometimes, with new managers coming in, didnt know what the PLA were. They have a great inclusion service which is provided free to groups who need them but I dont really know what they do at grass roots level anymore.

A few years ago I was on the exec. committee and asked if I could go with the DW to meet the groups who were in my area, the answer after months of asking was a very begrudded yes. I thought that was my role along with the DW, to speak to groups, to rally their causes to take back their concerns to the exec., and to help their committee members, who as you all point out dont know what they are doing a lot of the time, but it was a very closed staff and I was left knowing that my input was just to attend a meeting once a month where money was discussed and emails from London were relayed. None it very relevent to our groups.

There is a survey on the PLA website but unfortunatly the sites down, unless someone else knows a way past the fatal error!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm glad you have the error message too - I wondered if there had been a rush of FSF's wanting to download the constitution for staff members and we've broken their site! Tee hee

Edited by Cait
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our local PLA (Oxfordshire) has gone now too.. The council deal with their enquiries, which is a shame as we got some good advice from them. But I have to say.. I agree with all of the above! I too, run a committee run pre-school (yet run it myself) just like you guys. I am wanting to go it alone and am in thinking of moving the pre-school but I want it to become privately managed and do away with the committee. I don't see committee run being the way of the future now that this career is now becoming more widely recognised as professional.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our local PLA (Oxfordshire) has gone now too.. The council deal with their enquiries, which is a shame as we got some good advice from them. But I have to say.. I agree with all of the above! I too, run a committee run pre-school (yet run it myself) just like you guys. I am wanting to go it alone and am in thinking of moving the pre-school but I want it to become privately managed and do away with the committee. I don't see committee run being the way of the future now that this career is now becoming more widely recognised as professional.

 

 

Be aware that if you do this you can't keep any of the stuff that's owned by the preschool

Link to comment
Share on other sites

from the PSLA

 

Dear Cait

 

Thank you for contacting the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

 

A charity must be run by a group of volunteers, so you are not able to run a charitable pre-school without the committee.

 

Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly more difficult for some charitable settings to recruit new committee members, particularly into the officer roles. Most often this is because parents increasing workload means they are unable to commit their time.

 

Many pre-schools overcome the problem by employing a paid administrator to do the bulk of the work, with the committee overseeing this work and ensuring that it is carried out correctly. Settings that cannot afford to employ another member of staff sometimes split the work between the committee, so that the workload is not too great for any one individual; with the Chair, Treasurer and Secretary overseeing the work relating to their roles.

 

Please find attached a copy of our leaflet outlining to parents the benefits of volunteering for their pre-school committee, which you may find useful in recruiting new committee members.

 

A charity cannot be taken over by a private business as such because they have conflicting purposes. A charity is a not for profit organisation that is set up to benefit the public and not particular individuals, whereas a business is a commercial enterprise set up with the objective of making a profit. However, if a charity is formally dissolving you could set up a private concern and take on the staff/business; I would recommend that you seek legal advice on setting up your own business if this is the case.

 

For a charity to dissolve, the committee or the members must decide that the aims of the pre-school can no longer be fulfilled and convene an emergency general meeting inviting all the members to discuss the issue. It is then down to the members to decide either to dissolve the charity or to explore further options to ensure it keeps running. Under the Alliance constitution, if two thirds of the parents at the EGM vote to wind up the pre-school, the committee must then set about formally dissolving the group and settling the accounts of the charity.

 

Under charity law the pre-school is also asset-locked and as such, once all outstanding debts are paid the committee must transfer the charity’s assets to another pre-school charity. The pre-school funds and equipment cannot be donated to a private organisation or individual.

 

If you do decided to change your charitable status you can still remain as a member of the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

 

If you require any further information please contact the Information Service team at info@pre-school.org.uk or by telephoning 020 7697 2595

 

With kind regards,

 

Mandy Franks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here you are

That makes interesting reading - especially the bit about the committee training programme "Behind the Scenes". I wonder how many groups know this exists and make use of it?

 

Of course there's another way you can get your voice (and that of your group) heard - join your local Branch if there is one, or your County branch if not. :o Mind you, we had exactly the same problem getting branch committee members - everyone taking a sudden keen interest in their footwear when the dreaded 'v' word was mentioned.

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sorry to moan - but dont even get me started on committee run pre schools - ive spent 9 years slogging my guts out to get my preschool to 'outstanding' which i achieved last year....

 

now i have had to regisn and temporarily go back to nannying because of a 'committee'....

 

i am totally disheatened and devestated by the whole affair - where committee have not known how to be proffessional , and they have now in effect destroyed a preschool.

 

:oxD:(:(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all !

 

Couldn't agree more with Hali, committees have been the bain of my pre-school life !

Like hali I resigned last summer because I just couldn't keep up with the work load and it was dramatically effecting my home life, this was due to the committee being totally inactive can't remember if they did any thing last year !

 

This years committee are slightly better, but still we have had turbulent times with many staff changes, and I say we as I have gone back as deputy now. Don't ask ! too long a story to tell, I've gone back for the children, and so I can do my foundation degree in sept, also I live just across the road.

I am also passionate about the group as its in my community and my mother started it over thirty years ago, so its hard to just let it go.

 

We came away from the PLA years ago after having a very distressing time back in 2003, which was mainly due to involvement with them. They caused more problems than already exsisted. In the end the staff were all on the verge of resigning, but the committee beat us to it. One evening they held a meeting without the staff and all resigned, they just left us a message on the village hall door the next morning telling us we couldn't open as there was no committee and it would be illegal to do so.

We just got the parents that brought their children that morning to stay and they formed a new one.

 

Every year I hope that we can get a committee and that it will be a good one, so I will praying in September !

 

Just wish there was an answer to this problem.

 

Motherclangerx

 

P.S Sorry for such a long rant !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you rant away .. i wish my committeee would all reign (i mean resign!!!!)i could then go in and bring some stability back to my nursery thats going down the drain - heartbreaking to watch :o

Edited by hali
Link to comment
Share on other sites

you rant away .. i wish my committeee would all reign i could then go in and bring some stability back to my nursery thats going down the drain - heartbreaking to watch :o

 

 

reign or resign? hmmm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:(:(:( sorry rage overtakes me when i type about them - RESIGN i meant :o

 

 

HAHAHA - thought it must be! xD

 

So what can anyone DO about it. PSLA website has woken up BTW

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You read my mind!!!! I was just logingin to have a rant!!!! I also have a problem with the village hall committee and the parish council comittee!!!!! i'm surrounded by them.... Why can't any of them seem to see that to evelove and bring in more children we have to evevolve as well!!! The hall have actually said and i quote "we don't want the hall to look like a pre-school!!!!!" can you beleive that. We run from the hall 5 days a week and also have a toddler club one afternoon a week and an over 4's club. How can i compete???? Some days I feel like jacking it in and working 9-5 at sainsburys. Any way rant over with. Thanks for listening.

 

KAt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Snap! I get 'well it is a church, not a pre-school'... oh and that thing about not being able to have the stuff if you take over privately.. I never knew that! I had a meeting with the development officer today and it was her suggestion (rather than start my own from scratch, like I wanted).. I am well confused. But loving this rant! Sorry to hear you all struggle to - but nice to know it's not just me!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)