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Admin/Paperwork overload


Beau
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Hi Steve,

Haven't been on much recently. Had a run in with my committee last October and was thoroughly disillusioned with everything. I work on my own and when the parents are more or less saying they just want a glorified creche and think everything else is a nonsense (Planning, observation, assessment etc) its hard to get enthusiastic about your work. :o My husband managed to talk me out of leaving and I've battled on without the suppport of the committee. Just 4 more months till the next AGM............

Beau

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Yes we do have funded places. I've explained to the committee that the standards I'm trying to work to are laid down by other bodies than myself. The chairman more or less said that I was just making work for myself and that I shouldn't bother trying to change anything until someone said we should! <_< If we lost the funding it would be disastrous for the playgroup. There's no way we could survive financially without it.

 

Carol

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Hi Carol,

Do you have an advisory team from your LEA that you could call? Maybe they could support you in trying to inform your committee that the work is necessary, and not you just making extra work for yourself for no reason. They might be able to put more pressure on them than you can as an individual.

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We have a pre-school development team, with a development worker who visits groups with funding regularly to make sure we are meeting the requirements laid down in our service level agreement. Not sure how it works in England! The development worker told the committee that if these things were not carried out they would be in breach of this agreement. The chairperson then contacted the council to find out how many hours this should be taking me and the council said they recommended that groups pay staff an extra hour a week to do the paperwork. :o I'm not prepared to lower my standards just to spite them. So I'm still working long hours unpaid, knowing full well they don't appreciate it, but I think the fact that all the children are happy and learning so much speaks for itself. :)

 

Incidently, is it just in Scotland that Nursery Nurses have been carrying out strike action in protest against their low salary? I heard today that they have carried out a ballot and an all out strike looks set to happen from 1st March.

 

Carol

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Hi Carol

I wish I could do all my paperwork in an hour a week!!! What a lot of lovely free time I would have! It just shows that people sitting in local authority offices don't know what goes on in the real world!!

As far as I know it is only in Scotland where nursery nurses are going on strike-I haven't heard the same of English workers. Are these staff paid by local government? I was just wondering where the money was coming from if it is the private and voluntary sector as well. I totally agree that the pay is far too low and, although I pay my staff a reasonable wage, I would like to give them a whole lot more. But the fees and nursery grant I receive just wouldn't stretch that far.

You stick with your standards-at least you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done at the end of the day.

Linda

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Hi Carol -

For what it's worth, I don't think you'll find a single member of this forum who will be anything other than outraged at the idea that you can run a professional setting meeting the requirements of the Foundation Stage curriculum on an hours management, admin and planning a week.

 

You need some better support than you're getting!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Carol,

 

Just to put in my two pence worth. I was a supervisor of a committee run pre-school for two years and found the paperwork overwhelming. The committee themselves are supposed to do the bulk of it but because they are volunteers and the committee usually changes ever year, they didn't have the experience necessary. In order to meet OFSTED standards and provide a smooth running pre-school, my co-supervisor and myself did most of it.

 

My biggest grumble was that I refused to do this paperwork during pre-school hours, this time was for my involvement with the children, so it had to be done in my own free time to the detriment of my own family. This was the reason I left pre-school.

 

As far as salary goes, I don't think the proceeds of fund raising can be used for staff wages, I think this must come from the fees and LEA funding.

 

Until society as a whole recognises the value of providing quailty care for their under 5's, the staff of pre-school, nursery, childminder etc. will always be poorly paid.

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Hi all,

 

Regarding administration/paperwork overload......

 

Five and a bit years ago, when I was nearing the end of my committee stint, I realised that the group couldn't handle the workload without at least one or two committed (and experienced volunteers). In the later days of my secretaryship, I was producing the group's long- and medium-term plans (having got to grips with the ELG's and was able to identify the objectives of the leader's proposed activities). I also used to produce and maintain the group's written policies and procedures. I applied for additional funding for our many SEN children (pre-dating government funding for 4-year-olds, even) and handled pretty much all of the routine correspondence and form-filling ......... all this and the various secretarial duties that had become automatic over 9 years.

 

The committee itself was in a increasing state of flux: all the long-established members were gradually moving on as they stopped childbearing! New blood was not willing to commit to the committee to the extent that their predecessors had.

 

I pushed (very hard, and ultimately, successfully) for the committee to establish a paid adminstrative post, and our recently retired (and very competent) treasurer was persuaded to accept it. This set a precedent, and 5 years later, the post still exists (2x3hr sessions per week). This has saved the group through some very difficult committee times. And, of course, it has taken a great deal of pressure away from the leader, plus has made it easier to recruit officers to the committee.

 

If you have one or two sympathetic (and forceful!) committee members, and if funds will allow (fundraising income may become more critical in meeting some of the routine overheads), I suggest this as a way forwards. Once the post is established, any future committee will have difficulty in abolishing it unless they are willing to take on that person's workload themselves.

 

Just an idea....

 

Diane

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Hi Diane,

 

Your idea is a great one and would ensure some sort of continuity from one year to the next, which is what is lacking at the moment. This is certainly one I'll keep in my mind for the next committee. I know I wouldn't get any support for this from my current committee. I just wish I had someone like you at the moment.

 

Carol :)

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Guest rhodessj

Dear Beau (and others)

 

I started my life as a Committee member - first meeting the AGM and was elected as Secretary. Our group had a staffing crisis one morning and asked me to help out and I did. We had two staff members job sharing - one did 2 days per week and the other did 3. One had left and the other had gone off sick... So, I helped out and my one day turned into most of a term.

 

My leader (not realising she was doing anything wrong), offered to pay me for the shifts and added me to the payroll; and I carried on like that for some time. Once I joined the staff I offered to take on more and more of the Leader's paperwork, type up & photocopy forms etc.

 

After more than a year of working like this, I was taken on permanently. We consulted our PLA Development Worker who said it would be OK after all this time (we now know that I had already got a contract of employment by default, so they were in a tricky position!).

 

During most of my early time on the Committee, the Leader mostly made the decisions and the Committee rubber-stamped them - everybody was happy and the group ran well. Now though we have a Committee who are keen to dictate to us and things are not going so well.

 

We have only recently become aware of the law with regard to employment and I have now resigned from the Committee (2.5 years - nobody else wanted the job!); but I am still the administrator for the group. I do the wages now as our previous volunteer left. I did do fee taking for a while, but have finally been able to hand this over to a Committee member.

 

My administration role is paid for 4 hours per week (we work 5 sessions and this is the equivalent of 1 session). This is nowhere near the amount of time I put in, but it helps.

 

I think it is ridiculous that we have to be run by a group of volunteers who may have no training or experience - most of whom are around for 1 year. The small things I have learned about employment law recently are enough to make your hair curl.

 

There are lots of issues here - one we need much more pay for the job we do and two, we need to be able to have decisions made by competant people who understand our role and the various requirements of Ofsted and other bodies we work with. Our local Cluster Group has talked about lobbying the Government for a rise in the Nursery Education Grant - maybe this needs to be tackled nationwide?

 

<_<

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  • 2 weeks later...

Totally agree with your comments about more pay and recognition for early years workers. Our job has changed so much in the space of a few years and we are more like teachers now but without their pay !!

Although we have a good committee at the moment who give up a lot of their spare time to get involved in the playgroup I think it is wrong to give control of a HUGE budget ( more than most of us have to deal with at home ) to a group of Mums. We don't see most of our committee members from one day to the next but yet they can tell us how to run the group and decide what goes on within it. What gives them the right to decide how much we should earn without coming into the group on a regular basis and seeing the workload involved.

The governing body of a school includes teachers so that they can give their input why does a pre-school committee not involve pre-school practitioners ????

Playgroup is no longer just about playing with the children it is now about so much more eg planning , early learning goals , parents evenings etc etc . No one does this job for the money do they ?? but it would be nice for the government to realise just how important our job is , we are educating the future generation just like teachers are.

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rhodessj and hotgoss,

 

I can understand everything that you say....

 

I was committee for 9 years before I became staff (drifted into it as some of us do).

 

I then had to resign as secretary, of course. But I had worked well at it - I was a good interface, I think, between staff and parents, and we had all the staff at committee meetings. There were times when we needed the staff to go out, and we did it nicely and no-one minded. It was all civilised and wotking together.

 

When I backed out of committee, our adminstrator was fairly new in her post, and

needed support, as did the new committee. I did all of this willingly, passed on all of my computer files, contact lists, aide-memoires, etc.

 

At my first (and only) staff appraisal, I was told by the then committee chair (endorsed by the leader and her deputy) that I was compromising my position and effectiveness by not severing myself from my committee role. The rest of the committee thought otherwise, and I went through a grey period (when I would get clandestine phone calls from other committee officers: 'what should I do with this?'). Eventually, I had to say, sorry, I can't tell you - ask the chair. Luckily this did not alienate me from the parents involved - they felt as threatened as I was by the chair.

 

Still, I get asked questions, by the friendly committee members - we have even more officers now who "know everything" and they don't need to consult any of the staff, not even the leader.

 

We now have a situation where the management committee (transient as they are) really do run the setting.

 

The leader is scared to rock the boat, insist on involvement, because she lacks confidence.

 

Today (this is science week), I was running some of my simple science with the children. This is basically lots of magic (wow, look what you have done), lots of sensory stuff (smell it, feel it). I was doing some of the usual things with sodium bicarbonate and vinegar; yeast and sugar (I was concentrating on bubbles and gases) and the committee chair said "can you understand why these things happen?". My response was polite; I don't know how I managed it.

I explained that I had studied chemistry, physics and biology to A-level (many moons ago), and by-the-way, "I have a Bachelor of Science degree".

 

Would anyone attempt to do anything unusual with children if they were not confident with it themselves? We got lots of science vocabulary - our pretend volcano 'erupted', our chemicals 'reacted', we made 'gas', the balloon 'inflated', and all the other planned stuff: 'it smells like ....', 'it feels like', 'it's getting bigger', etc., etc.

One child was so attached to her growing yeast, she wanted to take her 'plant pot' home: she wanted her brother to see it and smell it when he came home from school.

 

So, Committees cannot rule us - they can manage us, but not always very well.

 

How long can pre-schools go on like this? As has been said, it was all very different when it was just a case of playing with the children. Now we have to apply not just the FS curriculum, but also birth-3 (we take 24 month children), "management" has a different meaning to that of 10-15 years ago.

 

Community pre-schools such as the one I work at should now be able to move from charity-status to maintained. They should be managed by a consistent body of people, not changing from year to year (governors?). Maybe we should be properly affiliated with primary schools?

 

If we, as EY practitioners, are professionals, we cannot go on for ever being 'managed' by unqualified people without our involvement. Schools are managed by governing bodies: just look at how many teachers (including the head) have input.

 

Sorry, I've rambled again.

 

Diane.

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Our pre-school is owned and managed by myself and it works so well. It is "our" pre-school although I own it as a business, I feel my staff and I work together well as a team. Ultimately decisions regarding finance are down to me but I consult staff on what we need to buy, what areas need to be developed and therefore need money spending. I don't always go for the cheapest option!

It must be very difficult to have a group of people holding the purse strings who are not involved on a day to day basis. I would not want to be affiliated to a school or committee-I love the independance we have as a small business!

Linda

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Hear! Hear! I totally agree with what you are saying. How can a group of professionals (albeit being paid unprofessional wages) be run by an amateur committee? I keep writing my letter of resignation but have yet to hand it in! (One day......)

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I really dread the days when some of my committee are in as duty helpers. I can feel them watching me like a hawk waiting to trip me up. I've had comments like - we don't pay you to walk around with a clipboard in your hand, do you think its necessary to get so much equipment out considering we have to put it all away at the end, do you think its wise to let the children touch those magifiers because they cost a lot of money. :o

 

I always just smile sweetly - luckily they can't mind read! :D

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Hi

 

i understand what you are all saying..

have to say at the mo i am extremely lucky that the chair of the committee is on my side and basically lets all the staff have their say and goes along with it supporting us all.

Have to say thiough she is due to resign in the autumn and i dread who will take over and what the staff will have to deal with then...... :o

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I think that must be the worst thing about committee run groups-the uncertainty of who will take over each year. I appreciate that some years you will have committee members who you want to hold on to and other when you can't wait to see the back of them.

I admire the way these groups run-it must be very difficult!

Linda

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Talking about new committees - how do the rest of you manage the transition. I will have a completely new change of committee members in July. What is the best way to tackle all the issues? I don't want to scare the life out of them the moment they take over but don't want the same thing to happen this year as last year, where they didn't fully understand their roles or mine.

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Beau

from experience its better to tell them how you want things done from the very beginning....

 

Forget worrying about frightening them off just be honest then hopefully they will understand everybodys role :o

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  • 1 year later...

Hi

 

I have been having terrible problems with my committee. They keep cancelling meetings and what starts off as a relatively small issue ends up being full blown war by the time it gets addressed. The treasurer is a male who knows nothing about childcare and what it entails he still thinks we just go in and get a few toys out and stand around drinking coffee all day. I had to really stamp my foot just to get basic stuff to go back to school with in SEptember. Now I have a very serious staffing issue and other things and once again he isn't around. and it's me who has to carry the load. If it was my business I wouldn't mind but it isn't why should I shoulder all this grief.

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Lesley,

 

So sorry to hear of your problems. Why should you have to deal with these problems? Well, basically, like it or not if you don't deal with it no-one else will. xD That doesn't make it right but I've found it's either a case of like it or lump it. :o

 

The only consolation I can give you is that committee's come and go. You may have a rough time this year but next time it could be quite different. Only you can decide whether or not this is something you can put up with for now. :)

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Hi Lesley, I echo Beau's comments. It really is a case of put up or shut up I'm afraid. I've worked alongside good and bad committee members, sometimes at the same time. The good ones thought they could do everything and often did, but then I had to check and ammend. The bad ones I just followed around. None of the committee members I've worked with have had any understanding of childcare, getting money for things social services or Ofsted requested was like getting money out of a committee!

But, every cloud has a silver lining, and you cant make an omlette without cracking eggs and every other feel good thing I've ever heard. :o

It will get better and if it doesnt, how bad can it get? xD:(:D

Keep smiling :D

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Hi Lesley, I echo Beau's comments. It really is a case of put up or shut up I'm afraid. I've worked alongside good and bad committee members, sometimes at the same time. The good ones thought they could do everything and often did, but then I had to check and ammend. The bad ones I just followed around. None of the committee members I've worked with have had any understanding of childcare, getting money for things social services or Ofsted requested was like getting money out of a committee!

But, every cloud has a silver lining, and you cant make an omlette without cracking eggs and every other feel good thing I've ever heard.  :o

It will get better and if it doesnt, how bad can it get?  xD  :(  :D

Keep smiling  :D

39549[/snapback]

 

Well the way things are going things have just got as bad a they can get with the staff ready and willing to walk out. the committee have been putting un workable systems in place now for a while and through their lack of meetings the problem has been allowed to escalate. I have warned them and warned them and they chose not to listen, unfortunately my committee does not change much because the way it is set up is governed by the church so our chair always has to be our vicar and the treasurer is a local business man who is their blue eyed boy. We haven't had a vicar for almost a year so the committee has been very weak allowing this Treasurer to almost run the joint with his unworkable sysems.

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Have you got a PLA representative or early years adviser who could step in and help a bit? Our chair took the word of the PLA as gospel and even if she got bad advice she would follow it. Ofsted usually want to speak to the registered person, in our case it was the chair so she had to hear it then, would it work do you think?

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oh lesley, I can only empathise how you all feel. You have two ways of dealing with this; ( maybe more but I can only think of two)

1/ carry on as you are and hope a solution appears ( passive/re-active management) or

2/ Get the treasurers attention by saying " case scenario, "What would you do if all the staff are resigning because of...................?( have specific reasons , with YOUR action plans ready) and let him know that without staff..no preschool...no treasurers role.... (Pro-active management - set the true scene-do something about it)

 

sounds a bit drastic but I do believe that a lot of committee, workforce issues are down to lack of communication / understanding. yes, value his expertise with figures...but educate him in the real world of preschool business that unless he/the committee listen to the "professional" childcarers knowledge there will be no preschool to committee/manage.

 

This can be presented in a positve, non aggressive way, state ( in writing- as an agenda issue) your concerns, how you think they should be addressed, and ask for their advice, but demand an agreed solution.

If meetings are not happening then write to each and every committee member, with these issues and request that they get together and sort it out.

 

Sorry if this all sounds a bit harsh, must be in a very pedantic mood tonight.

 

hope it helps anyway.

 

 

peggy

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HI all,

I have had to cancel my AGM due to no parents coming. The only ones who could come(make the effort) were my chair who is standing down, and 2 general members. My secretary has moved to poland at very short notice, my treasurer can't get a sitter and more of the same for the others. My new chair is at another job and no one wants to take on any other roles.

I have even employed an administrator and finance/registration officer to try to encourage parents to join as they were all moaning about having to do paperwork etc

 

Am going to try to make a meeting another eve and try to suit at least enough members to legally hold agm.

 

Fed up of continually trying to find parents who are willing to support.

 

net x

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