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Help I need some advice!


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My mind at the moment is spinning and I really need to get some advice and other points of view. Please excuse me if I ramble....

I am the manager of a busy community pre-school in a very rural area, we are based in the school. A few years ago we were finding it difficult to form a committee and the school took us under their umbrella. We are still independant with our day to day running, finances and staffing. Only now we have the EY teacher on our committee.

In January 2012 we moved from a small classroom into a disused portable building, this move enabled us to take four more children each session and gave us more space, an office and a fabulous outside area. This move was pushed along by myself and the then head teacher. We have worked so hard as a staff team to make it a sucess and have spent nearly £9000 to develop it. £2000 of this money was from a grant and the rest was fundraising. The school have now decided that they need us to move back into a different room within the school!!! I will not go into details but it has all been decided in a very inappropriate way, with the pre-school committee not being given the chance to be at any meetings or to have a say. The school are also only going to take on a small portion of the cost of us moving AND they will be benefiting enormously from the money that we spent on the indside and outside area. It is the money side of it that is killing me.

My dilema is....

1) Do I accept it, let it go and make the best of it. The only problem is that I have lost all respect for the school and am sure that our working relationship is now damaged beyond repair.

2) Think about the pre-schools long term future (expansion) and move away from the school, back to being committee run and look at getting land and a portable building.

The pre-school is fully booked until September 2014 and I am turning people away all the time, so there really is a great opportunity for expansion.

Do you think....

1) This is worth exploring?

2) Is their any funding/grants avaliable any more?

3) Should I just back down, let it go and get on with it?

As you can see my mind is whirling and I could really do with someone playing devils advocate, any advice or opinions.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has hired/rented a portable building and gone through the process.

I look forward to reading your replies.

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I would initially be inclined to write to the Chair of Governors laying out exactly what you've done to improve the building and what it's cost and most importantly how it's been paid for. As long as the school agreed to anything you did, they should,be compensating you for the costs IF you have to move or making similar changes to the room you are proposed to be moving to.

I would also emphasise your concerns at how good your relationship was and how you feel it's been damaged as well as the situation with your numbers, especially if this feeds into their reception and aids transition. Obviously if you move elsewhere this may impact on their intake and also on transition.

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Hi zigzag

 

How sad and incredibly unfair :(

 

I am inclined to agree with Madmum - I don't think I could take this lying down - but on the other hand your relationship with the school is already 'fractured' and I assume that this will only worsen if you take this to the Governors.....

 

What would the school do if you walked away - would they try and get another pre-school set up in your place?

 

Sorry I'm not being any help at all really - off back to my garden and I will have a good think as I potter :1b

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Were you paying a rent and did you have a lease agreement. Sometimes schools try to bully us to get what they want. If you did then seek legal advice you might even be lucky enough to find someone to do it for free.

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ok lots of negotiating to be done i think!! you work on a reciprocal agreement i would suspect (you scratch my back etc!!)do you have anything in writing ...and if so what? Unfortunatley this is where legal agreements come into their own. Is the part of the school they are offering suitable (right size/garden etc) or have they just lumped you with the leftovers!!

I think i would do the paperwork exercise of moving to a different location just in case...then you know your facts and figures (and i would change to a company while you're at it!! ;) )you need to gather all the information you can to fight your corner. Do you know when they intend to change things?

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Oh zigzag, I do feel for you, what a dilemma, have they given you a timescale to move ? and even if you could find a suitable premises in the same area as your stakeholders could you organise it quickly enough to not lose the business you've built up, do you have any allies on gov body that you could approach to put your case forward, I'm a bit confused as to whether you are or aren't already committee run from op, what is in your rental contract ( do you have one?) seems very unfair of the school to allow you to sink money into improving their building if they didn't expect it to be long term, hope you can sort it out, let us know what happens....wishing you lots of luck with it.

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I asked for total amount of money that we had spent to be passed onto all the governours at their 1st meeting..it wasn't. I could not let this go and so wrote a letter expressing what we felt and how dissapointed we were and put a breakdown of all our costs and asked for this to be read at their meeting last week..I have been told it was read out and while they are sorry about the situation it will still happen.

The room where we are being asked to move into is a nice room and perfectly suitable for our needs and the playground is a nice big area but is all tarmac. I know that if we move we will make it great..BUT we have all ready made our current room and grounds great!! The school have said they will cover the cost of moving our sheds and converting the toilets (with our existing toilets paid for by us) Last year the classroom where we are due to move too had a shelter put on the outside, now this shelter has a roof but the sides are completley open to the elements and believe me the wind and rain whip through it!! It is an enclosed area but is not big enough for a free flow area and really apart from a transitional space to dress/undress is good for nothing. We are being told that this will ofset all the costs and money that we spent!!! We do not want it and I think this is totally unreasonable of them.

I'm sorry I am rambaling again but my mind is whirling...

Our next step is to have a committee meeting and parents meeting and I am really hoping that someone else will feel so strongly that they will want to join the fight!!

A rental agreement was written and we agreed it and gave it back to the school to finalise it, guess what? No one knows where it is!! We pay £100 per month in rent.

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I would take the room they're offering but look very seriously at alternative accomodation. Our local primary, which is next door to our church hall, kept telling us they hadn't got a spare room they could offer to us and then moved a nursery from The local CC into one! It hasn't had any impact on our numbers, we still offer different and in my opinion, better provision than them. I'm sure there are many brilliant head teachers out there, but an EY advisor at the time told me a head hasn't got to be a head without stepping on a few toes and in a case like this I'd presume I'm the toes! Hasn't the truss report just said schools should be able to take under 3s?

Hope you manage to sort something out :)

Edited by Rea
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I'm no lawyer but I think the fact that you are there and paying rent would give you legal rights (not sure what though - of tenure?) Any one out there got a lawyer in the family to ask about this stuff on Zigzags behalf?

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Yes,I'm with Rea. you need to try to look after no. 1 and look at your options of altenatives too.

Do You think the school may be trying to push you out or is that just me not trusting anyone's motives at the moment?!

Very difficult, please keep us posted, good luck x

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Call me cynical, but I do wonder if they have seen what has been done to a disused building that they have decided that it is so much better now all the work has been done at someone else's expense , including the time taken to do it, so feel they want it back now. After all move you somewhere else and they will get the same result?? a room makeover ?? Would ensure that if any move is made within the school the agreements are drawn up and signed before the move.. so they cannot do it again!

 

We did have an agreement with the church and local school over a bit of land to use outside.. but we did get it rent free if we did it up.. and there was a clause that they could take it back with a few months notice as we were not paying anything for it...as it turned out it was such an obscure bit of scrub the chances of that are very slim.. We did get it drawn up by a solicitor, cost a bit for it but was worth it , peace of mind,so no sudden charge put on it..

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We have a committee meeting set for next week, I really hope some other people will get fired up about this and not just roll over and let the school get away with it, I can't fight the battle on my own. Will keep you posted.

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just a quick thought, the building although on school premises, is hired through your LEA why not look at getting a lease agreement or rent the land throgh the LEA not the school, another pre-school i know do this and have had so much hassle from the school but the school cant touch them because of the land is rented via the LEA

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