Worcestershire Pre school Learning Alliance Sub Committee – Meet and Greet Event   1 comment

This event took place on Wednesday 14th May 2014 at Perdiswell in Worcester. It was in fact the first event put on by the sub committee since the Worcestershire sub committee was reformed in September 2013 at the AGM.

Between the AGM and this event – a lot has happened – but maybe not that visible to those outside the committee.

We have held several committee meetings and we have begun to get our heads around the policies and procedures of being a volunteer for the Pre school Learning Alliance – by ‘we’ I mean Linda – the treasurer, and myself – the Chair – just the two of us. We have learnt a lot – but still have more to learn – these things don’t happen overnight.

We have both signed up to attend divisional meetings  but unfortunately could not attend the first event because of the dreadful floods around that time. I (Penny) have attended the National Forum meeting in London and was involved in helping set the wheels in motion for the Alliance strategic Plan for the next 3 years. It was lovely to be included and to be able to express the views of Worcestershire members

We have sent out our first newsletter – and of course organised this event.

As both Linda and myself work full time it has not been easy to get things organised and we are very grateful for the support of the Regional Office. However we have been the ones driving this forward  to support the settings in Worcestershire. We have had a few issues that we had to overcome, such as not all settings receiving the newsletter – and the order for the publications and raffle prizes being delayed. Not too mention only 4 people booking for the event.

Some last minute publicity resulted in 8 people attending – representing both group members and childminder members. We had the support of both National and Regional staff and the services of an excellent Alliance trainer – Lesley Senter.

The evening started with coffee and network opportunities – a feature that we plan to have at all our events – as not only are those networking opportunities vital – having a delayed start to the official agenda of an event allows those attending a little bit of flexibility if they are running late for some reason – and so don’t have to panic about being late for the ‘proper’ start. Essential we think when everyone – including Linda and myself – lead such busy lives with so many other commitments.

It was during these informal chats over coffee, that I realised that we have a bit of a communication problem here in Worcestershire (although I don’t think we are unique in this). It seems members are not all getting their member magazine Under 5, and some were not getting their member e bulletins. Also none of those attending last night attended the AGM in September because they had not heard about it. So something is clearly not working and we need to find out what is happening and resolve the issue.

As we had sent out some last minute information via the media – is was good to see that some had come along as a result of that media based information – and so again we need to look at this.

After the networking, we grouped in a horseshoe shape gathering of chairs, and I welcomed everyone, and everyone said who there were and where they were from – some people said a little more – and in particular our guests Rita Sutton from the Alliance National Office and Jo Randall from the Regional Office. They do of course have official titles but as the event was very informal and everyone chatted as if friends (and I hope we do all become friends – or at least close colleagues) I am not going to mention their official job titles. In my opinion, the title you have does not make you any more important than anyone else or your opinion any more valid than anyone else’s.

Having said that it was very useful to have the information available about aspects of the Alliance that neither Linda or I hold in our heads – and we are very grateful that Rita and Jo attended to support us – especially as they had spent the day moving the Regional Office into its new office space.

I also outlined the agenda for the evening – and the reason why we had arranged this event

First reason is because Worcestershire sub committee does have a healthy bank balance and we want to (no, we must) spend it on what Worcestershire members want – so the only way to do that is to ask the members. So we need to know what members want – some possibilities are;

  • Statutory training
  • Formal training courses
  • Networking events
  • Social events
  • Guest speaker events – and not necessarily only about childcare related things – as practitioners our own well being is important
  • Hands on workshops – so making things and trying things
  • Peer support events – where everyone brings some thing to share

Second reason – Worcestershire sub committee is very small – in fact just Linda and myself – which constitutionally is ok and we do have the support of Alliance staff – but Alliance staff can’t really help with the hands on and everyday stuff.

Before everyone stops reading – and this was stressed at the event – so that those attending did not get up and leave the room! We are not looking for committee members and we will not be ‘twisting arms’ or applying pressure to people to join the committee.

However, it is clear that as Linda and I have full time jobs, hold other volunteer roles and have family commitments ( the same as everyone else) we are going to need help with some things – so our thoughts are if members in Worcestershire could support in small ways – as and when they can, that together not only will things be easier to manage but that together we can make a difference to Alliance member settings in Worcestershire – which in turn will support the families and children in Worcestershire.

As we discussed at the event, these are the sort of ‘small ways’ that members may be able to support the Alliance Worcestershire sub Committee.

  • If attending a meeting or training or event – arrive a bit early and – help set out chairs, or ‘man’ the signing in table, or set up refreshments or help move things from cars into the room – and so on – each task taking less than 30 mins and normally less than 15 mins – but making a huge difference in spreading the workload
  • Same at end of meetings and events – if people could stay behind for an extra 10 mins we could all be finished and out of the venues a lot quicker
  • Provide a free room in your own setting for committee meetings – we would need room for up to 10 people – but usually only 4 or 5 people – so even a home based setting could be suitable
  • Provide a room in your setting for training or other slightly larger events where maybe we need space for up to 20 people
  • Give us details of halls and so on it your locality so we can move meetings and events around the county without the need to research where these halls are – and if it is hall belonging to an organisation that you belong to – we would be very grateful if we could benefit from a discount price
  • Offer to make a cake or buy biscuits for a meeting or event – we can reimburse the actual cost of these things – but often we just don’t have the time to stop off at a shop to buy these things.
  • Sit in on a committee meeting and give your views – this is important as with just two  of us trying to decide what is best for Worcestershire settings – we really do need the input of others. Please note this is not about becoming a committee member – anyone who expresses an interest in joining us for committee meeting – now and then, as and when they can – will be sent the agenda for each meeting in advance so they can make an informed decision about if they want to pop along for that meeting or not.
  • Provide your expertise in a particular area – for example you may be good at typing things up (I’m not); you may be good at taking minutes; you (or someone you know) may have a hobby that you can share with other adults or with children – either as a demonstration or as a hands on workshop; You may be really good at thinking of craft ideas that we could share via the newsletter – and so on.
  • Basically there are lots of ways that you could help – that you do not have to give a commitment to – but that will make a difference if you can help –   on a now and then.

And the third reason for the event was to provider a taster of what we can offer as a sub committee – which is where Lesley Senter comes in . Lesley has been involved with the Pre School Learning Alliance for many years – and like many of us has seen ideas and Government requirements come and go.

Lesley had been asked to provide something that was FUN and that provided not only a less serious side to early years planning and curriculum but that also provided sound research based reasons as to why planning is not always needed and does not always lead to the best outcomes for the children.

And Lesley certainly provided a taster workshop that ticked all the boxes that we required ticking. It was fun – I an sure that none of us will ever forget Lesley doing her impression of some bagpipes or her impression of the Early Years Minister who appeared to have a vaguely  Scottish based voice.

(The Scottish connection was due to my information sharing about my visit to Edinburgh the previous weekend and the Patrick Geddes gardens that I had learnt about and visited.)

It was really good to see so many smiling faces and so much laughter – it certainly took me back to my early days with the association which had begun before the name change to Pre School Learning Alliance.

I am personally a firm believer that if you ask people to come out to training / events / meetings in their own time – and often at their own expense – then it must be enjoyable, and it must give them ‘something; to take away in terms of new knowledge or information rather than in terms of goody bags.

The evening seemed to go really quickly and we had some very positive comments about Lesley’s session and about the event in general – everyone went home with a goody bag – and everyone selected a publication from the free raffle.

I will now be emailing those that attended and asking for their thoughts about what they would like the Worcestershire sub committee to provide for their members and once we have the information we will plan our next event, next newsletter and our AGM

If you are a Worcestershire based setting and did not attend the Meet and Greet event on the 14th May – Please do get in touch- if you provide the committee with your email address then we will be able to communicate directly with you (data protection prevents both Regional Office and National Office from sharing  your contact details at the moment)

If you are interested in popping into the next committee meeting it is on Wednesday 4th June – please let us know, and I will ensure you get the agenda and full details

Finally Linda and I are keen to help, support and advice Alliance members in Worcestershire – we may not always know the answers to your questions – but we know a lot of other people within the Allaince who might know – so just ask us your questions and if we don’t know – we will ask someone else and get back to you

You can email me – Penny Webb  as follows – Pennys.Place@hotmail.co.uk

or Linda as follows – Lindaorourke@btimternet.com



Posted May 15, 2014 by psw260259 in Pre School Learning Alliance

One response to “Worcestershire Pre school Learning Alliance Sub Committee – Meet and Greet Event

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  1. Pingback: So what does the Pre school Learning Alliance have to offer? (and some feedback from Worcestershire) | Penny's Place Childminding

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