Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Politics of the PTA

There are groups of parents around the country who are continually fighting a battle to raise funds for schools.

They are not fighting the school governors or local authorities for funds - they are fighting the apathy of other parents who do diddly squat for the school.

PTAs / Friends Associations

I'm talking about PTAs (Parent Teacher Associations) and Friends Associations - whatever name they are going by.

I've been the Treasurer of our school Friends Association for the last 2 years.

PTA's have a reputation for being cliquey - I certainly haven't found it that way.

I didn't know anyone on the Friends before going but I still went despite feeling nervous and worried.  I have made friends on the Friends and acquaintances.  We don't always see eye to eye and there are arguments.  But we carry on.

And why do we carry on?

To raise funds to purchase items for the mini human beings at the school that they wouldn't otherwise have.  Not just our own children but ALL the children.  We do it for ALL the children.

We have provided outdoor play equipment that the children LOVE.  We have provided games for wet weather play. We run Discos, Summer Fetes, Christmas Bazaars.

And we do it all in our own time.

We have jobs, we have families, we have our own businesses, we have our own lives - yet we still make the time to help.

There are LOTS of different ways people can help their PTA.

It doesn't have to cost £ to help

  • If parents cannot afford to donate an item they can donate their time to help in the planning and preparation or running of the event.  They could come along to a meeting to share their ideas.

  • Some of the fundraising we run costs NOTHING to the parents.  For example - we have a textile recycling collection a couple of times a year.  A chance to clear out those old worn out clothes and shoes and yet every collection we see the same old faces bringing items along.

  • We use Easy Search as a search engine which earns the Friends Association a couple of pence for each search completed.  This costs nothing to parents to use.  Just change over from Google / IE / Safari to our own search engine (to be completely honest it's a rubbish search engine but I still use it every day to do a search and then look on Google for a proper answer!).

  • We are members of The Giving Machine.  It works a bit like a cashback website where if you do your shopping online via The Giving Machine we (the Friends') can earn some money on your purchase.

I'm not holier than thou - I don't use it all the time.  I use TopCashback for most of my online purchases but anything I buy from Amazon I do via The Giving Machine.

Our school has 480 pupils on the roll.  Allowing for siblings and single parent families we must have 600 parents who could be signed up to use this service + grandparents, Aunts, Uncles etc.  We have 29. Less than 5%.

We needed 36 people to attend our Friends AGM in September to enable us to make some changes - we couldn't get 36 people. OUT OF 480!


This little rant has been brought about because we have had to cancel an event tomorrow.

We had planned a Nearly New Sale for after school.  We asked parents for donations of any unwanted Christmas presents or nearly new items we could sell.

We received a little over a dozen donations.

The Year 6 Council were going to help run the event after school and the Teaching Assistants were kindly going to man the tills.  All parents had to do was donate a small item for sale.

I am left with the feeling of 'why do we bother?' - but one of my friends summed it up perfectly

It is so hard not to not get angry (I'm sure I would be the same) - especially when you have probably put a lot of time and effort into already organising this event only to be let down at the end! 
I think this probably happens in pretty much every sc
hool - it seems we are all fighting a battle to make a little bit of money to help the children. It's such a shame as those that want to offer their time and support are getting disheartened and angry and less likely to help in the future.
You are not alone though Beccy - there are lots of us out there that feel your pain. All we can take away from it is that we are trying our hardest to do good and I know my children see me helping and they notice.

Thanks Jennie.  We do carry on.  I want to do this for my children.  I want them to see me helping and volunteering.

I want to be a good example to my girls.  Miss R and Little Miss L - I do this for you. 

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