Saturday 4th October 2014 – Worcestershire Pre-School Learning Alliance Sub Committee AGM   1 comment

Where does the time go?

It is just over a year since I became Chair of the Worcestershire Pre – school Learning Alliance Sub committee (just over the year because a decision was made at the inaugural AGM, to push the date of the AGM back a little to allow more time for official paperwork to be sent out, and for settings to settle back into things after the summer holiday period, including  settling new children in.)


Rather than repeat myself – I have copied and pasted my Chair’s speech from the AGM – to give an overview of of the first year since Worcestershire sub committee was relaunched.

This speech was not read out word for word – delegates had it in printed format  – but it was referred to and ‘extra bits’ added to it. After of course the usual introductions of those present.


What a difference a year makes

Worcestershire Pre- school Learning Alliance Sub Committee is back and if I say so myself – doing well.
First, to back track a little to our AGM in September 2013 (Saturday 14th), we had 16 delegates attend and were fortunate to have the Alliance Chief Executive, Neil Leitch, as our guest speaker.

I think it is fair to say that Neil ‘wowed’ those present with his knowledge and passion for the Early Years sector – in fact I know this as many commented to me personally during and after the AGM.

Then, there were the conference workshops – they were informative but also a lot of fun – Lesley Senter in particular, had everyone laughing as the made sock puppets, but there was also laughter as delegates tried to get the fingers to co-operate with sign language in the Music in Motion session; …….and we have continued to have fun and laugh throughout this busy first year.

Those who attended last years AGM will know that myself (Penny Webb), and Linda O’Rourke were voted in to start the process of forming the sub – committee and getting everything ‘up and running’; which we have done with much appreciated support in person from Raj Babber and Jo Randall from the Divisional office, and Rita Sutton (now retired) from National Office; plus others not seen but supporting in the background.

SO – What has the Worcestershire sub – committee done over the last 12 months?

We have:
• Held several sub – committee meetings – all informal, friendly but focussed on the tasks in hand.
• Produced three newsletters and a questionnaire
• Tried to attend our first Alliance Divisional meeting, but sadly due to the floods at the time, the meeting was cancelled – but as Worcestershire’s Divisional Representatives, we will attend future meetings.

• Held two successful Meet and Greet sessions – first one with a training session led by Lesley Senter and no one attending will ever forget her impression of bagpipes!, and the second one, a sharing of information and establishing what members wanted the sub – committee to organise.
• Linda has visited the Regional Office in Birmingham
• I (Penny) has attended the National forum in London, and the National AGM / Conference in Birmingham.
• We met with Worcestershire Early Years training team to discuss the Alliance working in partnership with training in Worcestershire

I (Penny) have worked very closely with Alliance senior management, representing Worcestershire colleagues, and childminding colleagues – ensuring that childminding colleagues know about the Alliance childminder membership package.
And by the time we hold the 2014 AGM – we will have put on SEND workshops over two evenings – completely free to Alliance members
Not bad for two people who during the year, were also holding down full time jobs and had family commitments.
However, what I have not mentioned, is all the ideas we have – that we have not implemented yet – such as visits to member settings, a health based initiative for member settings, working in partnership with Worcester University, more training to meet member’s needs, social evenings – and more.
Ah yes – I can hear, you the reader saying – here we are, the ‘sales pitch’ – twisting of arms to get more people on the committee …….
……. Well ……..YES and NO……………….

Linda and I would love some more people to lend a hand – on an ‘as and when can’ basis. We are very aware that everyone is very busy and is stretched with work and family commitments (just like we are) BUT if people could help in small ways to support us –without even formally joining the committee – then we could start to action some of our ideas.
• Maybe you could sign people in, or serve refreshments or make a cake or donate a raffle prize – at events that you are attending? (And THANK YOU to Maria for offering to make a cake)
• Maybe you have a skill that you could share?
• Maybe you have a room we could use for meetings or training? (And THANK YOU to Ann from Railway Children who has kindly offered the use of a room in her setting).
And maybe you have some good ideas that we could implement?
Of course at this stage, I do not know if Linda or I will be voted in again for the Worcestershire sub – committee – but we are willing to stand again and if voted in, continue with the aim of supporting Alliance member across Worcestershire.
Maybe you would be willing to nominate one of us, or to join us on the committee –or lend a hand ‘as and when you can’?
Together we can make a difference

After my speech, Linda went through the accounts, and explain how all financial things are dealt with my National Office. As Linda explained this is great, but it does mean there is a bit of a time delay in information being updated – and so Linda was unable to say how much we have in the Worcestershire account at the moment – but she could say how much we had at the end of the last financial year. We are very much on track to deliver all the things we hoped to deliver in our first full financial year (so up to end March 2014) – and currently under budget.

Some discussion took place around how as a subcommittee we need to know what members would like us to provide in terms of support and training. As an example two members had asked for SEND training – and this was put on FREE to MEMBERS   – and as a bonus MEMBERS  attending were given a FREE copy of the Alliance publication to go with the course (Non Members were also able to attend for free, but they had to pay for the publication – as it happened only members attended).

A few suggestions were made by those present – more SEND training, ITC training – especially to support those who attend school, EAL training – members also wanted practical ideas to implement in their settings.

All of these ideas will be taken forward – and implemented as soon as possible to do so (so subject to trainers availability / rooms and so on)

It was then time for myself (Penny) and Linda to stand down from the committee and to hand over To Alliance staff to conduct the election of the subcommittee for 2014 – 2015.

Paul Donaldson – Director of Human Resources at the Alliance – kindly covered the election of the new committee.

As it turned out there was only myself and Linda who had put in nominations, and we were both re elected – however we have had interest from a lady who could not be present and so she will be part of the committee – either formally or informally (whichever she prefers)

Which brings me to a very important part – FRIENDS OF THE COMMITTEE 

Linda and myself are not keen on ‘twisting people’s arms’ to join the committee – we recognise how busy people are with work and family commitments, and also that if people are the sort of people to volunteer – that they often volunteer for more than one thing.

Therefore we decided that we would set up ‘Friends of the Committee’ which in reality  means people who want to help on a ‘as and when basis’ without having to give a commitment. So people who might be able to do some of the things I mentioned in my speech.

AND I am delighted to say we now have TWO Friends of the Committee who are willing to help when they can – but who also will have another very important role – that of advising the committee on if ideas put forward by the committee are good ideas – or not!

So if Linda and myself have any ideas we will email the Friends of the Committee and ask for their honest opinion. This will have several advantages –

One  – the sub committee will not make any decisions that are not based on members views,

Two – the sub committee will be able to put in applications to spend Worcestershire money based on  members views,

Three –  it should speed up decision making as the sub committee will be able access members opinions quickly

We would love to have more Friends of the Committee – and if you are interested in helping by advising the sub committee via email, or helping as and when you can – we would love to hear from you and promise NOT to twist your arm to do more than you are willing or able to do.

(If you are a Worcestershire based Alliance member – individual or part of a member setting – and  willing to be a Friend of the Committee, please email

Once the official election stuff was over with it was time to hand back to Paul Donaldson for a presentation on Volunteering.

Paul spoke with enthusiasm and passion for the role of the volunteer – not just those who volunteer for the Alliance but all volunteers. He showed an amazing graph based on the benefit of volunteering to the country – I am not sure I have the facts right – but it is a staggering amount – and from memory –  23 BILLION POUNDS , That is more than the benefit to the economy of the country than Marks and Spenser or John Lewis (or even the two of them put together) and many times in excess of the benefit to the country of the Premier Football League.

Think about it – what do volunteers do – they give their time for FREE and they add value by fundraising as well as hands support to others. As I sat there listening to Paul, I wondered how much I personally add to the economic well being of this country. An interesting thought, as up to that point, I had only thought about the direct benefit to children and families – not the indirect benefit to the economy of the country – but in the doing that thinking I realised that Paul is right because if society had to pay out for the volunteering that I do – then there would be a financial cost to the country.


Paul spoke about the benefit to the individual volunteer – and the knock on benefit to society as a whole. Things like feeling valued, well being (physically, mentally and emotionally) – and so as I sat there listening – I gave myself a pat on the back.

I will be honest, there are times when as a volunteer I find myself overwhelmed with everything that needs doing, I find myself out of my comfort zone, I find myself juggling family life, work responsibilities – and ‘me time’ when I just do things for myself – and sometimes – not very often, but sometimes – I think – WHY DO I BOTHER? Listening to Paul reminded why I bother because it is not just about the impact on those I support – children, families, colleagues; it is not just about the benefit to the economy; it is not just about the impact on society – it is also about the benefits to ME.

I sat there reflecting as I am apt to do – about my volunteer roles past and present, about the friendships I had made; about the skills I had learnt along the way (often without realising at the time that I was learning new skills) – and I thought WOW – that is amazing.

I mentioned in discussion about the fact that University Students who volunteer can now achieve volunteering awards while at university – and if meet the criteria can actually get their volunteering mentioned on the transcript of their degree. Now that is a very powerful indication of the value of volunteering.

Paul had certainly made me think – and I hope that those reading this blog will also think about the volunteering they already do – and if not already volunteering – may think about doing so. Certainly the Worcestershire Pre school Learning Alliance subcommittee would welcome the involvement of more volunteers – either committee members, or friends of the committee. There are so many opportunities available – do get in touch.

As usual I have digressed – but on this occasion I think my ramblings have a purpose.

So back to the Worcestershire Pre school Learning Alliance subcommittee AGM.  After Paul’s presentation, there was a welcome refreshment break and chance for some of that all important networking. I certainly enjoyed chatting to the people that I spoke to, and I noticed that others were also chatting.

Once the break was over, it was time for the workshop – this year presented by Ann from Clickety books. Ann is a speech and language therapist, and as well as bringing the Clickety Books for us to look at, she gave an informative talk – with ‘hands on participation’ from everyone, on speech and language development. I found it very useful as I could related to my grandchildren , my minded children, and my fostering experience.

The highlight of the workshop was when Ann read us one of the stories that Clickety Books publish ‘Clip Clop’s Picnic’ – I got to play the part of Clip Clop – in that I had a finger puppet to use and an active part in the story. Others had various roles of the different animals – either finger puppets like myself or cut outs on sticks – and Paul – our guest from Alliance head office – in his professional suit- played an important role – that of the tree on top of the hill (or rather that he had to hold the paper bag tree upright as it kept falling off the hill!)

Time had flown by – and it was now lunchtime, and time to draw the raffle and give out the goody bags

During lunch, people took opportunity to look at the books on display – and I know I was not the only person to be tempted (I brought 3),

The raffle was drawn – and everyone went away with a prize – some donated by committee members (so myself and Linda) one donated by Early Years Resources (a lovely hammer and peg toy)  Ann also kindly gave a set of books as a raffle prize

Everyone also went away with a goody bag containing a full catalogue from Early Years Resources – and two Alliance publications worth at least £20 – and being the lovely people that we are – we even let people swap the publications in their goody bag,  if they already had it. The publications were paid for by the subcommittee, as we consider it a very good way to support Worcestershire settings.

For those interested links below to Clickety Books and Early Years Resources who both supplied raffle prizes

Link to Clickety Books

Link to Early Years Resources


Although numbers attending the AGM were slightly disappointing (due to a clash of dates of several other events). We –  Linda and myself, and Raj Babber (from Regional Office who had helped with the organising, sending out information, and on the day) had a mini debrief in the car on the way home – and all felt the day had been a huge success – especially in terms of recruiting our Friends of the Committee and interest in the committee.


Posted October 5, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “Saturday 4th October 2014 – Worcestershire Pre-School Learning Alliance Sub Committee AGM

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  1. A wonderful relay of yesterday’s meeting – thank you Penny! Were I closer I would join you.

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