The status of branches
Branches are part of the national charity. They do not have any separate legal status. The trustees of the national charity are responsible for the charity as a whole, including its branches. Branches are run by committees of volunteers, who should appoint a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer to manage branch affairs, including liaison with head office.
Branch committee members are volunteers and as such Early Education is committed to ensuring they feel motivated by and enjoy volunteering and are acknowledged for their contributions. Volunteers should be treated fairly, appropriately and with respect. The roles are unpaid, but committee members may be reimbursed for expenses incurred in relation to organising branch activities.
Each branch ideally has three named officers: chair, secretary and treasurer.
Branches can determine roles in their own ways and it is possible for committee members to take on more than one role.
Generally the responsibility of the branch officers will be:
- Chair – Chair local committee meetings and branch events.
- Secretary – Keep minutes of decisions taken and a record of branch activities; Book speakers and venues. Publicise events. Send details of branch events to central office. Some branches have split these responsibilities into different roles, for example meetings secretary, events secretary and publicity secretary.
- Treasurer – Keep accounts (if the branch has its own bank account) and oversee other finance procedures in line with Early Education guidance. Copies of Early Education’s Financial Controls policy are available on request.
Period of office
Generally a period of office should not exceed three years. While it is often hard to find new volunteers, succession planning is important to the long term success of the branch, and newer recruits can be mentored by more experienced peers. It is advisable to stagger changes of officers so that they will not all change in the same year. For a new branch, it may be worthwhile to have a consistent team for a time to establish the branch.
Planning a branch programme
The branch committee are responsible for planning the programme of events to suit the needs of their members and local early years community. Where possible, try to take into account the pattern of national and regional Early Education events.
You must send a copy of your event programme, including regional conferences and joint meetings, to central office as early as possible so that we can advertise these via the website, and send information to members and other contacts. This will boost attendance at events by allowing members to plan ahead. It also helps to demonstrate the range of Early Education activities to government, other organisations and grant awarding bodies.
Early Education is accountable for events at national and branch level. It is therefore important that Early Education has information about them. All branch events are covered by Early Education’s public liability insurance.
Most branches hold events in the late afternoon or early evening, or on Saturday mornings, depending on the preferences of local members.
Many branches hold events at local schools and settings which demonstrate good or outstanding practice and provide an opportunity for those attending the event to tour the setting. The host setting does not usually charge, but it is customary to offer some token of thanks. Some branches have arrangements with a local organisation such as a college or university, which may offer room space for free, or in exchange for free attendance by students. In some cases, especially for Saturday morning conferences, it may be necessary to pay for a venue. Events may also be held online, or live-streamed.
Branches chose their own programme of speakers, who should be able to provide high quality CPD relating to early childhood education, rooted in our values and principles and based on local members’ needs and interests. Branches should aim for the programme of speakers and topics to be diverse and inclusive.
A particular benefit of being an Early Education branch is having access to our Associates and Vice Presidents. Contact central office if you would like us to approach any of our contacts. Associates are freelance consultants who carry out training and consultancy through Early Education. They are experts in the field early childhood education who share our values and support our aims. Associates will normally charge a fee and/or expenses to speak, but will often charge a reduced rate to local branches. Vice Presidents are honorary patrons of the organisation who are eminent figures in the sector. They have no formal duties but support us in ad hoc ways, which might occasionally include speaking at branch events, and we are happy to discuss any possible invitations with branches.
Information about branch events, including a copy of the flyer (if applicable) must be sent to head office so that we can publicise them via:
- the Early Education website – each branch has its own section on the website, and all branch events notified to central office are listed on the website and included in our bookings system to reduce the workload for branch officers
- the main Early Education social media accounts
- direct emails to all contacts signed up for updates from your branch – this can include non-members as well as members
Branches may also choose to set up their own social media accounts, but should notify central office of the details so that we can actively help cross-promote your posts. We can also provide advice with setting up social media accounts. Any social media accounts linked to an Early Education branch must comply with the organisation’s social media policy (available on request).
Early Education’s legal name (British Association for Early Childhood Education) and its Registered Charity numbers and Companies House number must be displayed on all branch flyers, programmes and printed papers:
British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education)
Charity registered in England and Wales No. 313082
Charity registered in Scotland No. SC039472
Company limited by guarantee no. 395548
All event bookings and payments are now handled centrally by head office. Branches should notify head office of the event details and pricing. Head office provides branches with updates on bookings on request.
Branch Annual General Meeting
It is not a legal requirement, but each branch may wish to hold a branch AGM in the interests of transparency and for ease of conducting business such as the election of officers and committee, approval of accounts, etc. Branch accounts and reports of activity must reach central office in time to be included in the annual report and accounts. We will write to you in plenty of time to achieve this deadline.
Any mailing lists held by local branches would be subject to data protection legislation, and the responsibility for compliance lies ultimately with the national organisation. It is for this reason that local branches are required not to hold their own mailing lists, but to channel all communications to members via central office.
Lists of non-member contacts interested in attending meetings, eg those who have attended past meetings or local authority contacts, can be added to the database on request, and will then be included in mailings relating to branch activities.
Accessing lists of branch members and contacts
The best way to access details of branch mailing lists and event bookings is via head office.