‘Not another bake sale!’ you cry as you read the note in your child’s bag. It may seem like an inconvenience when you’re already a busy parent, but the events organised by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) are worth the baking (or buying).🧁
If you’re wondering ‘What is a PTA?’ then we’re here to take you through the role of the Parent Teacher Association and shed some light on how all those flapjacks and school fairs create positive change in your child’s school.
What is the role of the Parent Teacher Association?
A Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is an organisation that aims to improve a school. All PTAs are technically charities because they work to benefit the public and have solely charitable purposes. By bringing together members of the school community, a PTA works to raise money and strengthen the sense of community within a school.
A PTA isn’t the same as a governing body. A governing body is made up of staff, parents, members of the local authority and representatives from within the community. It’s the job of the governors to keep an eye on finance, monitoring and strategic planning.
What does a PTA do?
Parent Teacher Associations in schools are probably best known for fundraising, but they do a lot more than raffle off bottles of plonk and hold the occasional quiz night. A PTA might also handle the collection and resale of second-hand uniforms. This can be a real help to families who may be struggling to buy new uniforms each term - and we all know how quickly kids can shoot up unexpectedly over the summer holidays.
That ‘first day of school’ feeling doesn’t evaporate just because you become a parent. Members of the PTA often support other parents by sharing their experiences of the school or simply by welcoming new parents and their children to the school community.
In fact, PTA members are often the best PR a school can get! If a school is undergoing changes, it’s often the PTA that will arrange for parents to meet to keep them up to date. They’ll help parents to find out more about what’s going on and why certain things are happening.
A PTA might also hold seasonal events that celebrate the cultural diversity of their school community as well as raising much-needed funds for the school. Whether it’s getting to throw a wet sponge at the headteacher at the summer fair or piling on the layers for Bonfire Night celebrations on the school field, it all adds to the sense of community – and it’s the PTA that provides much of the people-power needed to organise, publicise and host these events. 💃🏽
The PTA is also often involved in asking local organisations or companies to help the school with their various activities by donating their time, products or money. As well as all that, PTA members are often called upon to help with school outings and run extra-curricular clubs such as drama, music or sports.
How does a PTA raise money?
The importance of a Parent Teacher Association cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to fundraising. The average PTA raises around £8,000, with around a quarter of PTAs raising more than £10,000.
The biggest money-spinner is usually one of these events:
(other popular events are: bingo, raffle, colour run and BBQ)
You’ll remember many of these old favourites from your own school days, proving that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to help raise some cash for your school. However, if you’ve got some innovative fundraising ideas then PTAs are always on the lookout for new ways to get people involved.
Once all the pounds and pennies have been collected and counted, here’s a look at what all that cash goes towards:
What does the money raised by a PTA buy?
Percentage of schools that use PTA money to buy this
School renovations projects
School costs (e.g. staff training or salaries)
How can I join the PTA?
In most schools, you can just turn up at a PTA meeting and listen to what they have to say. There’s no official ‘joining’ required as you’re automatically considered a member if you’re a parent of a child attending the school. Once you’re ready, you can put yourself forward to get involved and offer as much of your time as you are able to spare!
PTAs always need new ideas and new perspectives to create fun events that will get people involved. If you’ve got an idea for an event that will benefit the school community and raise money then don’t be shy and throw it out there!🌠
How do you become a PTA?
If you like what you’ve read so far but haven’t heard anything about a PTA in your child’s school, then they may not currently have one. Check with the school office to find out.
If your child’s school doesn’t currently have a PTA and you think they would benefit from one, then why not be the one to set it up! Don’t panic - it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Firstly, you’ll need to find other interested parents and get the school’s backing. Then you can call an AGM (an annual general meeting) to formally start the PTA.
If you do go for it and set up a new PTA, you don’t have to go it alone. The UK charity Parentkind and the social enterprise PTA+ both offer a whole bunch of fantastic resources to help you get started.
Don’t feel pressure to launch your PTA with an event extravaganza – you can start with small events that you have the people-power for and work up from there. As word gets around, you may find that more parents want to get stuck in and things may develop naturally.
What can I do in a PTA?
Everyone has a different skill set so don’t fret if you’re more Mary Shelley then Mary Berry!
If you’re not sure what to do in a PTA, think about what you can offer outside of your work or childcare commitments. Members of the PTA can help out in a variety of ways - you might find yourself volunteering at a school event, helping to manage aspects of social media, or simply donating raffle prizes. Any amount of time and energy that you can spare will be appreciated and it’s up to you how involved you get.There are certain formal roles that need to be filled each year.
The chair is in charge of the committee and makes sure that the PTA is run correctly.
They organise PTA meetings, write an annual report for the AGM, delegate tasks to members and volunteers, create the calendar of events and act as the main link between the PTA and the school.
The treasurer manages PTA funds as instructed by the committee.
Their role includes taking care of all money spent and received by the PTA, reporting on the PTA’s finances at meetings, and managing day-to-day finances.
The secretary organises the committee’s communications and helps things run as smoothly as possible.
They are responsible for things like helping the chair to prepare and run meetings, sending out meeting agendas and minutes, organising all communication to members of the school community, and creating promotional materials for events.
It’s easy to be daunted by committing to a role but it might fit your existing skill set perfectly, or you might find yourself rising to the challenge. 🏋🏽
What happens in PTA meetings?
A PTA will meet a few times a year and what happens at PTA meetings stays at PTA meetings. Only kidding - it’s no big mystery as the minutes are usually shared online.
Each PTA will structure their meetings slightly differently, but they’ll usually include a combination of the following:
- Welcome and apologies from people who can’t attend
- Actions from last meeting
- Current issues or things needing urgent action
- Discussion and feedback from recent PTA events
- Discussion and planning of upcoming/future PTA events
- Treasurer’s report/update
- School funding requests
- Parent/school forum
- AOB (any other business)
- Agreeing/setting the next PTA meeting date
Should I join the PTA?
Being part of the PTA is a great way to meet other parents and staff while also working to support and improve your child’s school. PTAs need new members all the time as every year, they lose members as students leave the school, taking their parents with them! It’s not always easy to find the extra time for these things, but any support you can give them will always be gratefully received.🤗
While your kids may or may not be delighted to see you in the corridor, it’s definitely positive for them to know that you’re interested and involved in where they learn. Aside from learning more about your child’s school and helping it address its needs, being part of the PTA is also a great way to meet other parents with kids the same age as yours. We spend so much time and energy supporting our kids that it’s always refreshing and reassuring to meet other parents experiencing the same trials and tribulations!
Here at GoStudent, we’re keen to support parents and students in any way we can. If you think your child would benefit from some one-to-one tuition in any subject, then perhaps one of our expert tutors can help!