To not want to get too involved with school life?

(434 Posts)
Pinkrosesarebest Tue 10-Jun-14 19:28:58

Just that really. My twin sons are in Reception. So we are only at the beginning of our school journey really. I will help out in the future I am sure but haven't so far. I always send in money when asked. However 2 mums talked very loudly near to me and quite pointedly today and said it's always the same ones helping out, signing up or organising PTA events. Surely it is a choice rather than an obligation?

Chottie Tue 10-Jun-14 19:31:25

Just ignore them, there are always a few queen bee types, volunteering for everything and on first name terms with the HT....

Chocotrekkie Tue 10-Jun-14 19:38:22

It's fine to not get involved but please do not criticise others and what they do.

It is always the same people involved and we do make a point of trying to invite reception parents to join the PTA etc. as we know they may be shy in volunteering/ not know how to go about helping.

It's a thankless task helping out at schools/PTA and there is nothing worse than all the moaning about paying 50p for a cake. Well if you aren't happy with he way I am doing it then take over please.

Thanks to our PTA the school now has a new computer suite.
This has enhanced my children's schooling do its worth it in my book.

justmyview Tue 10-Jun-14 19:38:35

Yes and No. I agree everyone has other commitments, but on the other hand, it does seem to be the same faces who help every time and if everyone did their bit to help, it would lighten the load

redexpat Tue 10-Jun-14 19:41:21

I ahve read lots of threads on here about people volunteering and then subsequently being ignored or criticised or not thanked by the PTA. So it swings both ways.

What do they think their approach will achieve?

I8toys Tue 10-Jun-14 19:42:08

YANBU but think you need to wait a little and see what happens. I didn't think I would be the PTA type but I volunteered to help out at a summer event . Not to be a queen bee type or be in everyone's business but because I was generally interested in the school and so my children could see I was involved. This turned into 3 years on the Committee and I am a Parent Governor.

I wouldn't write it off just do what you want to, don't feel obliged - you may even enjoy it and you may be surprised with how involved you do get - I am quite anti-social and painfully shy in social situations so its a big thing for me to speak up but I love the school and my children are very happy there.

HT is called Nick.........

Bowlersarm Tue 10-Jun-14 19:43:16

It's a bit annoying when it's the same old parents who never help at all, or take part. It's always the same ones putting the majority of the work in.

I find it sad, because there's a lot of fun and great relationships to be found amongst parents, but it is your prerogative not to be involved at all.

But if you want to keep your distance, then keep any criticisms to yourself.

Deverethemuzzler Tue 10-Jun-14 19:47:48

I am not involved with school and I don't want to be.
I might in the future.
I was very involved with DD and DS1 when I had more time, more energy, no one was ill, disabled and I no one had died.

Right now I can't think of much worse than 'joining' and 'doing'.

I know people like me get judged but those judging don't always know the whole story or just how much we might have contributed in the past.

My oldest would be 22 now and my youngest is just about to start primary <sob> so I have had years of school stuff and have years ahead of me.

So OP YANBU. You have plenty of time to get involved if you want to.

thebodylovesspring Tue 10-Jun-14 19:48:17

Yep by all means don't get involved but if you don't then don't criticise those who do.

Equally annoying are the 'cool' mums who take the piss out of those who are always helping and organising.

Each to their own.

Mrsjayy Tue 10-Jun-14 19:48:40

Of course its a choice and sorry you felt those women were having a dig at you but they do run events for the school and it is usually the same faces dont rule out offering to help you dont have to join the pta ,

Gargamella Tue 10-Jun-14 19:57:59

YANBU - especially because passive aggressive types should be avoided whenever poss. If talking loudly and pointedly about you rather than to you was the preferred approach, these two are unlikely to be pleasant to be around.

TheLovelyBoots Tue 10-Jun-14 19:58:59

It does become tedious that it's the same old people doing the same old things, year in and year out.

A lot of people feel that they don't actually "use" the PTA services because they're not at Quiz Night or the various socials but they'll go to the second-hand uniform sale and the summer fete for example. It feels one-sided after a while.

justmyview Tue 10-Jun-14 19:59:01

Totally agree with thebodylovesspring - I am a member of our PTA, not because I'm a busy body / queen bee, but because I was willing to support the school and they were looking for volunteers. I've had a few people saying "No way I'd get involved" as if they think I'm a complete sucker for volunteering, which I think is unhelpful

YouCanTakeAHorseToWater Tue 10-Jun-14 19:59:20

It's fine not to volunteer, not everyone wants to. It's not fine though to slags off those that do. I wonder if me and my PTA friends are viewed as Queen Bee types because we keep volunteering to run things because no other bugger does. And if we stop there are no more school discos, or school fairs or fun days and the school has no more money for laptops, books and school trip transport. The Head (Karen, she's lovely) would get even more stressed trying to eke it out of her school budget and the kids lose out. But, you know, I only really do it to piss you off...

Waltermittythesequel Tue 10-Jun-14 20:01:47

I got involved to an extent with my dc school.

Worst thing I EVER did.

People assuming you're a "queen bee" type, people assuming you're actually like the queen bees on it!

I have taken a huge step back and I'm so much the better for it.

It was a nightmare. My dc nearly being forces into play days with one mum's kids in particular.

I've made one good friend out of it, I think.

The others are total back-stabbing, two-faced bullying wombats!

So, no. YANBU. And breathe. grin

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 10-Jun-14 20:06:59

I help with our PTA, but on an as and when basis. The times and days of meetings seem to be regularly changed, and our ds's, DH and I do have commitments outside of school shock horror mrs Chairperson! which means that I can't always go.

Some help,is always better than none, so if you appreciate the benefits that your dc get as a result of PTA efforts, just help at things that suit you.

TheEnchantedForest Tue 10-Jun-14 20:19:58

of course you aren't obliged to be involved, but do remember to be appreciative of those who do volunteer so much of their time on behalf of the pupils in the school.
Our school PTA are amazing;they fund laptops, iPads, the swimming pool, sensory garden and all our playground equipment. They put on a wide range of events over the year to suit all budgets to ensure all parents feel they have contributed in some way and this also fosters a real community spirit.
It must be frustrating in PTAs when it is always the same people doing the work.

rowna Tue 10-Jun-14 20:35:11

It's optional. It's nice for the dc to have the extra things the money raised buys. But I really think there should be no obligation - fair enough if you want to, fair enough if you don't. Those that attend the fete pay out lots of money. Those that organise spend time/money arranging. Neither works without the other.

HappyMummyOfOne Tue 10-Jun-14 20:37:31

PTAs do always seem to be the same few helping all the time and then others moaning of it's not done to their taste or new items don't magically appear. If everyone took turns it would be far better, share the load and show the children what can be done when you help others.

zeezeek Tue 10-Jun-14 20:41:41

OMG no, you are not!! They are hideous! My DH tried to help out a few times and the irritating alpha/yummy mummies and the incessant "niceness" nearly drove him insane - and he's the most tolerant and cool and laid back person I have ever met....

I have tried to be involved in the PTA (oldest is now in year 3) but they keep holding meetings during school time when lots of parents are at work. That's when they publicise when they're meeting at all.

I know that they do work very hard and raise money for extra stuff, and I'm grateful for what they do.

At the moment I've decided to concentrate on other voluntary work that I do, plus I go along and spend money at the school fair/make cake for bake sale etc. Things might change next year as a lot of the current group have children in year 6 so will be moving on.

Waltermittythesequel what do you mean, 'forced' into playdates?

pointythings Tue 10-Jun-14 20:55:20

PTA volunteering and full time work just don't mix. Until very recently, everything at our local primary was during working hours - and during the early years I did get 'looks' because I had negotiated a 0.8 job so that I could drop DD1 off so the presumption was that I didn't work. It was OK once I explained that actually morning drop off was the only thing I could do.

It's better these days because the proportion of working mums is higher so there's more understanding and flexibility - it means I'm actually able to do something for the school occasionally.

Trojanhouse Tue 10-Jun-14 20:58:44

I wish people would desist from slagging off PTAs
I don't volunteer for the PTA , but I am extremely grateful to those that do. If it wasn't for these individuals many children would not be able to go on school trips, have use of laptops etc.
So yabu and extremely rude .

Waltermittythesequel Tue 10-Jun-14 21:01:01

wombles I said 'nearly'!

They are in the same classes as QB's dc and she's neurotic, to put it diplomatically!

She was really very aggressive about having them over and then reciprocated. Every week. Every. Single. Week.

And polite no thank you's just didn't cut it!

She's a very overpowering person and she used to say it directly to the dc too!

I wouldn't mind but she is constantly pitting her dc against others. (Think snatching other dc's test results/homework then demanding meetings with teachers if her dc didn't do as well as others).

I'm friends with one of the teachers outside of the school. She said this woman is the constant talk of the classroom and has been the main cause of after work stiff drinks this year!

Honestly, it's not even possible to describe her adequately. You would truly have to see it to believe it!

MrsWinnibago Tue 10-Jun-14 21:02:05

YANBU but don't assume they're doing it to make you feel bad. Some people LOVE it and that's fine. I don't add any School mums on Facebook..as I don't want to know frankly and I don't have any complaints!

echt Tue 10-Jun-14 21:05:35

How has the OP been rude?
She has said she is busy right now, but may do PTA work in the future.
She has said she sends in money.
She was the subject of frankly bitchy passive-aggressive comments - a perfect ad for not joining that particular PTA, if that's what they're like.

PsychologicalSaline Tue 10-Jun-14 21:06:49

We moved several times during primary school years. I always volunteered to help out where I could as it was a great way of getting to know people. It was only the last school where I gave it all up. I got stuck on my own on toilet monitoring duty, for three hours during the school event...sadly my altruism only stretched so far and I couldn't be arsed with it all after that.

Hassled Tue 10-Jun-14 21:11:25

It's entirely up to you whether you get involved or not. I didn't with my oldest DCs - was working FT and barely had time to fart. With my youngest I did have time and I was at a stage when I sort of needed new friends - I wasn't working and was quite isolated. So my motivation wasn't for the good of the school - but I did make friends and I did raise money for the school. Everyone has their own set of circumstances - ignore the other mothers.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Tue 10-Jun-14 21:15:14

I think its fine to not get involved but I do think it is a small group who do end up doing all the work and volunteering to help now and again just helps out. I work FT so rarely get a chance to help out.

MrsCripps Tue 10-Jun-14 21:15:28

Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!
Runaway !!!!!
I have never met so many unhinged nightmares in my life.

Oh dear god do not volunteer - they will make your life a living nightmare.
< as you were >

Pinkrosesarebest Tue 10-Jun-14 21:43:35

Thank you for all the feedback. I can see how the PTA does a lot of good for the school and can equally appreciate how it must be frustrating for the few who seem to help out each time and not others. Food for thought. I think, being shyish, the way forward for me would be to help out every now and again when I can. And thank you echt I didn't think I had been rude in my original post; that is not really my style!

thebodylovesspring Tue 10-Jun-14 22:05:40

Op you were not rude at all.

Waltermittythesequel Tue 10-Jun-14 22:07:19

You weren't rude!

Mrsjayy Tue 10-Jun-14 22:40:08

No way were you rude , see how you feel about volunteer ing now and again I was on primary pta and yes some parents are quite full on but I was quite happy dotting about helping at discos and what not

PecanNut Tue 10-Jun-14 23:16:33

At our school it is always the same ones who do all the PTA stuff. They seem lovely and not 'queen bee-ish' at all.

However, most of them don't work and don't have pre-schoolers at home, so I guess they have the time to do this.

chilephilly Wed 11-Jun-14 07:12:12

I ran a stall at PTS Xmas Fair once. I'd been teaching all day and came straight from school. They said I didn't do it right and didn't make enough money. I told them to feck off.

chilephilly Wed 11-Jun-14 07:13:12

PTA. Stupid tablet thingy.

TraceyTrickster Wed 11-Jun-14 07:18:29

..I help out because I am between jobs and in Grade 1 my daughter loves me being involved.
By grade 3/4 (so around 9) most kids hate being seen with their parents- so at that point I will back out.

Enjoy it while your kids want you around

LST Wed 11-Jun-14 08:27:36

My dc haven't even started school yet and I know for a fact I won't be helping out or joining the pta. I work ft and I have enough outside of work and school hours to keep me occupied. Tbh I find keeping my eyes open most of the time a strain. Those that can do it are more well welcome. Well done them. But not everyone is able.

LST Wed 11-Jun-14 08:28:52

*more than welcome. ..

pianodoodle Wed 11-Jun-14 08:33:48

From what I read here about school gate encounters and dealing with organising events etc... it all sounds a bit scary to me.

I intend to drop mine off as quickly as possible then leg it grin

Only1scoop Wed 11-Jun-14 08:38:05

Ugh I'm dreading school gate stuff....I intend to be rather stealth myself and dp can do the run whenever he is off in week.

Mrsjayy Wed 11-Jun-14 08:41:56

2 children 12 years of primary never had school gate stuff ever you go say hello sometimes chat sometimes not drop off and pick up no drams no hassle

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 08:47:52

"Yep by all means don't get involved but if you don't then don't criticise those who do.

Equally annoying are the 'cool' mums who take the piss out of those who are always helping and organising."

This. Oh, this squared. And it's not just the taking the piss the "cool" mums do- it's the superior "I've got better things to do with my life-not like you little mundane worker bees". Now that really makes me want to reach for my machine gun.

<disclaimer I know lots of people are too busy with work/other children/ other commitments to help- but there are many others who think not helping- and vocally not helping-makes them superior. Not true.>

Mrsjayy Wed 11-Jun-14 08:52:19

Yes lots of parents are busy but I have heard recently well my children are not an extension of me I dont need to be involved I n their school life , okay thenhmm

Renniehorta Wed 11-Jun-14 09:04:09

PTA stuff can be a nightmare if you work fulltime and even worse are single. I was never able to drop off or pick up because I was a secondary teacher across the other side of the city. So I never had the opportunity to meet any other parents.

However the worst experience was the annual BBQ. My DS was always really keen to go, so I could not let him down. He would race off and have a great time. I was then left on my own mid a crowd of parents who all knew one another. I used to go and sit in my car in the car park. I could not bear standing there as a Billy-no-mates.

Can I make a plea to the QBs & co to be more welcoming to those who don't fit the standard primary parent profile.

redskyatnight Wed 11-Jun-14 09:07:37

I think there's a big difference between becoming the lynch pin of the PTA and (say) offering to run a stall at the summer fayre for half an hour.

AT DC's old school the vast majority (read all bar about 4) seemed to think it was perfectly reasonable for about 6 people to run the whole summer fayre between them. And then complained when we couldn't run all the stalls/things had to shut early. I do think the majority of people can offer a small amount of time once a year - if everyone does this it reduces the burden on the few.

Iggly Wed 11-Jun-14 09:09:32

It is always the same mums that help out.

I think being involved in your children's education is a no brainer.

Not wanting to help with the pta - I understand that though.

lifehasafunnywayofhelpinguout Wed 11-Jun-14 09:25:00

I didn't get involved either. I just used to drop D.D off. Don't get me wrong. I used to have a chat with her teacher. How's she doing attend open evenings, but as for working on the P.T.A. plus the fact I've always worked so wouldn't have had the time. It's not my thing milling around a school all day. I've just about seen the inside of the school. I was never a fussy mum either. D.D was quite happy going into school which told me she was well looked after, so I didn't need to hang around
One thing I will say though when good parts are coming up say Mary in the nativity it always seems to be a governers child that are given the parts. x

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 09:30:15

"One thing I will say though when good parts are coming up say Mary in the nativity it always seems to be a governers child that are given the parts. x"

<sigh> <dabs bingo card wearily>

BreconBeBuggered Wed 11-Jun-14 09:37:54

Oh, here we go.

Anyway. Governors and PTA? NOT the same thing.

Stinkle Wed 11-Jun-14 09:41:21

Yep by all means don't get involved but if you don't then don't criticise those who do

Equally annoying are the 'cool' mums who take the piss out of those who are always helping and organising

Yes, totally agree.

I'm a school governor and I also help out with the PTA if I can. I have the time and I enjoy it. I'm not a Queen Bee, I'm just happy to help out when I can.

Even more annoying is the "your child only got picked/won/whatever because you're a governor" nonsense. Actually my child doesn't get awarded certificates/picked for school plays/etc anymore than any other child in her class. It never seems to occur to anyone that my child actually deserves the part/certificate/whatever. She works hard, is well behaved, why should she be overlooked just because her mum is a Governor?

TheAmazingChandler Wed 11-Jun-14 09:42:29

Our PTA is probably best described as 'an interesting mix of personalities' and I really don't think I have the required tolerance to be on the actual committee but I always run a stall at the summer fair and I've helped out at discos and plays. I actually do have better things to do with my time, as do the other people who help out but I like the massive pile of cash that is ploughed back into the school and I am reasonably community minded so I put myself out for maybe 10 hours a year. (not even that really as I would be at the summer fair/plays/disco anyway, just not with a teapot and a stack of polystyrene cups)

flipchart Wed 11-Jun-14 09:45:37

I had no intention of not being involved with schoo life and glad I stuck with that decision.

Of course I went along to the buy a cake evenings, summer fares etc and yes it was the same faces that ran them but it was the same faces that stood together since reception and no matter how much I smiled and made small talk they weren't interested in me. Fair enough. Why would I want to spend my free time with them?

I understand about sharing the burden, that's why DH and I are involved on the committee of our junior ice hockey club.

sunbathe Wed 11-Jun-14 09:49:11

What I dislike about PTAs, is the idea that the PTA raised x money. No they didn't, the parents attending paid for it.

As rowna said, the PTA's fundraising efforts wouldn't work without the parents efforts as well.

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 09:52:02

Yes I think there's 2 issues. Being on the PTA committee and just volunteering. I quite liked doing a stall at the school fair twice a year, but I wouldn't have wanted to be on the PTA committee.

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 09:55:24

I also think the PTA at our school were TOO keen wanting to make money. It got a bit silly. Wanting money from parents nearly every week!

lifehasafunnywayofhelpinguout Wed 11-Jun-14 10:10:10

Strinkle. My child is also well behaved. Just because I don't helpout at the school doesn't mean my D.D is badly behaved. Sorry had to say that. x

fromparistoberlin73 Wed 11-Jun-14 10:13:06

dont necessarily join PTA, but help, turn up, join in. Dont turn nose up at them

Stinkle Wed 11-Jun-14 10:13:56

life yeah, and maybe my child earns her certificates/school play parts/etc off her own bat and it has nothing to do with me being a Governor

fromparistoberlin73 Wed 11-Jun-14 10:16:22

my dad was a school governer

and I was a HAYSTACK in the Oklahoma school production

I have no time to do any volunterring but I am always so grateful for the people that do- people are mean IMO

lifehasafunnywayofhelpinguout Wed 11-Jun-14 10:18:10

It is always the same ones picked. They don't give other kids a chance to shine. after all Every child matters.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 10:21:25

The trouble I always had was that the PTA seemed to be set up for those who didn't work but had kids of school age.

These great, rambling, chats mid afternoon which were half gossipy in crowd stuff, half "oh yes, you're here, yes, we should do something.".

It just wasn't something we could do really. I don't have three hours of a random morning to spend chatting about what colour napkins, still less gossiping, and also, I don't want to.

OTOH, I always went to the fetes, and spent a lot of money and I supported the schools by sending in money.

At the end of the day, the point of the PTA is mainly to raise money. It shouldn't really be about enabling that cliquey mumness thing.

I do feel strongly that if people are finding it to be same old faces, they need to look at why exactly that's happening, and consider whether it might actually have something to do with the PTA culture, real or perceived.

Sianilaa Wed 11-Jun-14 10:21:49

I'm sure there are plenty of "Queen Bee" nightmares on PTAs everywhere.

However at our school (and I'd argue, most schools!) they are just the people who have a bit of extra time to offer and want to contribute something for the children. That includes everybody's children, not just their own. I'd also argue that they are probably desperate for more people to lend a hand by offering half an hour a few times a year to man a stall or help set something up.

I also know that our current PTA chair isn't exactly well organised and has hardly publicised any meetings, etc. so hardly anyone knows about it and/or thinks it's cliquey. It's really not, it's just he hasn't had the time to do a lot of marketing and they all have jobs and lives too.

Perhaps the answer is then, for all parents who can, to make a donation at the beginning of the year and have no events?

Also, governors and PTA are totally separate. I'm a governor and yes I might get a seat at the front for some productions but there are no "perks" - my children do not get treated differently to anyone else! And if you sat through hours of meetings and training sessions etc, then you might get a seat at the front too! Just a thought.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 10:22:46

sunbathe has it - its the parents who fork out the cash who pay for the laptops etc not the PTA.

I would gladly send a cheque - PTA blood money grin

SapphireMoon Wed 11-Jun-14 10:25:45

I think being on PTA can be a thankless task. I help out when I can but am not on the Committee. [Do do other volunteer stuff at school and have had the sneery looks from those who whinge in the playground about the school but proudly don't help].
The PTA have women who work bloody hard for sod all thanks. They organise stuff because it is not going to organise itself. They are always wanting help as 3 or 4 people can't do everything eg run discos, bingo, stalls at summer fairs etc. It pisses me off when they are disparaged as the school would be a poorer place if they said sod it and just closed down PTA.
The whingers would then complain that there were no discos etc I am sure.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 10:25:56

"Perhaps the answer is then, for all parents who can, to make a donation at the beginning of the year and have no events?"

tbh I'd bloody love that.

And then if there are events organised-if the kids want a disco or something-we can just get on and do it without someone fussing about money raised.

There's that thing too. Every single thing that happened through my kids last school which involved the parents HAD to be a money spinner somehow. Always looked at from that angle.

Honestly-yeah, I'd prefer an (optional) donation.

Our PTA is on the point of folding due to lack of support from the parents. At the last meeting, which was arranged during school hours at the specific request of parents, just one person turned up.

If the PTA folds the swimming pool will have to close. Everyone's children get the benefit of it, not just in termtime but it's also staffed by PTA members in the summer holidays, which is extremely popular in a small village with few other play facilities.

To date I have only volunteered as a 'body' at events, to run stalls etc. I work and am a parent-governor so I didn't want to take on any extra commitment. But I will now, and so will DH, because 'somebody has to'.

It is always the same people who put the effort in. And they will move on after Year 4 (ours is a lower school). So it does kind of depend on the parents of children in the lower years getting involved to ensure its future.

I only heard about the threat to our PTA yesterday so thank you for starting this thread, OP, it has persuaded me to email the chair and volunteer.

lifehasafunnywayofhelpinguout Wed 11-Jun-14 10:29:15

Sianilla. Was I supposed to give my job and not be able to pay my mortgage. Just to get a front seat at the school play. Don't judge please. x

QueenofallIsee Wed 11-Jun-14 10:31:49

I don't go to PTA meetings but I do volunteer at some of my kids activities (Cubs/Footie). I help out when asked at school events and, work permitting, try to do a few sessions a year helping on school trips. I am not a queen bee or a worker bee, I do it as I like meeting people and making friends. I am also aware that my children are more likely to be included if people know & like me/DH and feel our presence at things is beneficial. I apply the same logic to my professional life, as it goes. It is definitely a choice and you should pay no mind to the PA women on the playground. In my experience most people don't give two hoots about who helps and whose kid does what...it gets a bit magnified by a few

SapphireMoon Wed 11-Jun-14 10:31:56

Sure a myth re front seats for at school plays etc for governors. Doesn't happen at our school. Join the general scrum and get a seat where they can!

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 10:32:31

"And then if there are events organised-if the kids want a disco or something-we can just get on and do it without someone fussing about money raised."

Yes I agree - it's almost like the PTA enjoy fussing and sending fussy letters every other week. Would rather give 50 quid at the beginning of the year and say - right shut up with the letters!!

SapphireMoon Wed 11-Jun-14 10:33:57

All those who say they would organise a disco if not a fund raising event, I wonder if you would really? I'm doubting you!

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 10:34:22

Basically, the PTA at my kids' last school was fed directly by the NCT

It was the same women who had eyed each other up at baby group, decided that they had enough of a shared interest in fabric samples and cupcakes to base a friendship on, and proceeded to clique-out the rest of us through the toddler and nursery years. And then, en masse, like some enormous hive, they joined the PTA. They set meetings at stupid times, mainly gossiped through them, whinged about how no one else came but were really unfriendly to those who did. They were nightmares, basically. To be fair, they ran a tight ship and did a good job and were fine as long as all you wanted to do was show up and look after a stall a few times a year.

I've also had the experience of a really different PTA, at a v low budget private school, where meetings were at a proper time, childcare was actually provided for them, and various rota systems were put in place to encourage everyone to volunteer. Eg a particular class would run particular stalls and a sensible time would be put aside for the class parents to get together. It felt very, very different.

What I really need, as a working parent, from the PTA is to be told what to do. Give me a list of things that need doing on fete day and I will do them and I will do them well. But if all you have to offer is gossipy meetings that don't start on time-well, I just cannot do that. Because I have to work, to pay for those bloody fetes.

Vagndidit Wed 11-Jun-14 10:34:23

I am happy to head in and help teachers with projects, listen to children reading, chaperone field trips, cheer on for sports days but I will not NOT touch any PTA events with a 10 foot pole.

DS's school PTA is very much a bee hive with a vast amount of Queen Bees who, because they have several children among them who have been through the school, have firmly established their hierarchy for a decade and more. They run things their way or no way (and they make this no secret)

There's an attitude that the PTA is to be revered and cherished at every school, but there are plenty of volunteers who give their time for other efforts throughout the school, and do so without a martyr complex and i say that as an ex-teacher

Stinkle Wed 11-Jun-14 10:35:09

Perhaps the answer is then, for all parents who can, to make a donation at the beginning of the year and have no events?

We bandied that idea around one year.

Then everyone complained there'd be no summer/Christmas fete, school disco, etc

You can't win

We don't do loads of fund raising - 2 fetes, each year group does a cake bake, we trialled a Christmas shopping/pamper evening last year which went down really well, an end of summer term school disco and a few cinema nights.

We also have stuff like Yellow Moon/Avon cash back thingies where if you're ordering anyway you stick in the school's code and we get 10% cash back

We do a load of other stuff which is just for fun - pancake races, Easter egg hunts, Father Christmas, ice lollies at sports day, etc - no charge for any of that. We haven't always got our hands out

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 10:40:30

"All those who say they would organise a disco if not a fund raising event, I wonder if you would really? I'm doubting you!"

Really?

I've organised plenty stuff through cubs/scouts for my kids. They are not run as fundraisers. I do it because the kids want me to and they enjoy it. That's enough for me.

Why do I do this not the PTA? Actually its pretty simple. The meetings are in the evening, focused and welcoming. That's all there is to it.

Its nice to have stuff for our kids. Its nice to have decent playground equipment. But its not actually that massive a motivation for me. My kids last school was all into raising money for a shrubbery. Seriously? (they didn't call it a shrubbery, but it was).

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 10:42:47

Or how about give some money at the beginning of the year and have 2 events a year and leave it at that.

Parents shouldn't be harassed and given guilt trips throughout the year - it just makes the parents feel small and the PTA feel superior.

BreconBeBuggered Wed 11-Jun-14 10:49:46

Our PTA had a kind of hiatus for about 18 months when there simply weren't enough active members available to run events. All the whingeing about everything the PTA was doing wrong was suddenly replaced with indignation that the DC were going to miss out.
Nobody offered to step in to run events on a break-even basis, and certainly nobody put their hands in their pockets and offered hard cash in lieu of fundraising activities, apart from one member of staff who always did that anyway. So I'm always sceptical about claims that people would prefer to stump up at the start of the year and never be bothered with lemon drizzle hassle again.

bleedingheart Wed 11-Jun-14 10:49:53

You weren't rude, OP, and you are perfectly within your rights not to get involved.

I am not in the PTA. I bake cakes when required, attend fairs and give money but I haven't been able to make any of the meetings that have been held due to work commitments. It is hard to know what you can do if you are working while the meetings are being held. I know a lot of the members of the PTA at DC's school also work. One of the mums works 50+ hours a week in fact, so it must be very difficult for her to fit it in.
I dislike all the sneering about 'better things to do' and the 'I have to work' comments I've heard over the years as though PTA members are a bit pathetic or too involved in their children's lives.

The parents may provide the money but the PTA do the organising so they deserve some credit or thanks perhaps? To be sneery about that is a bit low. The parents don't spontaneously pay for laptops do they? It's facilitated. I would happily give a one off donation rather than bake a cake but not all parents would.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 10:51:05

Sigyn
I think our DC might have been at the same school !
They were horrible to anyone who did volunteer and wondered why no one offered.
Our school pool in summer ran along the lines of "Use it, then you have to do some slots on the rota"
Nothing to do with the PTA

SapphireMoon Wed 11-Jun-14 10:54:35

So, if people want say 2 events a year but no PTA, who will organise them?
Teachers? Parents volunteering?
I appreciate the very few women [and couple of men] who put themselves out at our school. Children do enjoy the discos and Bingo and the summer and Xmas Fairs. PTA have meetings in evening at pubs and still get the sneery 'not for us' looks and comments.
Think they are considering folding as so thankless [from parents, not children] and time consuming. I will be interested how parents who don't help out react to that if/ when it happens. Maybe it needs to happen at our school....

flowery Wed 11-Jun-14 10:54:41

"Was I supposed to give my job and not be able to pay my mortgage. Just to get a front seat at the school play"

I'm a governor and I don't get a front seat at anything, and nor would "just" getting a front seat be a reason to do it, what a bizarre idea.

But I also don't recognise the notion of having to give up jobs and not pay the mortgage to be a governor. What's that about?! I think all our governors work, many of them full time. Training and meetings all take place evenings and weekends. Of course not everyone would be able or willing to do it, but I wouldn't want anyone considering being a governor (or indeed participating in the PTA) to think you can't do it if you work.

bleedingheart Wed 11-Jun-14 10:56:27

The problem with the one off payment idea is at schools such as my DCs school, I very much doubt many of the parents could afford to give £50 at the beginning of term, but £3 for a disco, £1 for some cakes etc spread throughout the year is more manageable.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:01:20

My son's secondary school is known not to have an active PTA, and they ask for a donation per child at the start of each year.

I know not everyone does pay (because I know people who just can't, or won't).

But a lot of people do. (possibly to avoid ever having to make a lemon drizzle cake again)

They still run fetes, etc. I'm not sure if they are fundraising or not-they seem to raise funds for charity quite often (its a state school).

Donation is £40 per kid per year and they certainly buy stuff with that.

I completely agree, flowery.

I work, all our governors work. And there are no perks, such as front seats at school plays. I have to use precious annual leave to attend training courses and our meetings are all in the evenings.

Many of our PTA work too. They're not cliquey either. There's not enough of 'em to be for a start!

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:08:05

bleedingheart that is a fair point btw about the upfront payment

I only have one kid in secondary atm and when I have 3, stumping up £150 at the start of the year is going to hurt.

I do know not everyone does donate or doesn't donate the full amount and I certainly would not expect an issue if people paid over time.

It also doesn't stop anyone sorting out a disco to raise money, and that might be a great way to give back if you can't afford to donate but don't have time .It just stop s this divide between those who can do the PTA and those who either can't, or just find it too bloody intimidating.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 11:08:29

No PTA at secondary school here.

Bake sales were run on a class by class basis - not difficult ,bring cakes on Friday, sell them- again no need for hours of gossip and whingeing.

We didn't have a Summer fete in my day - just Sports day and certainly no pamper evenings <shudder> or fish and chip suppers sold at three times the price.

These evenings were run by the PTA for the PTA and their friends .
Very few other people could afford or wanted to pay £30 for a bit of nail polish and a hand massage .

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:11:44

Oh god! The pamper evenings!

Because yeah, to me, pampering is getting half naked with the most gosspy and cliquey bunch of queen bees I have ever met.

All in order to raise money for a sensory shrubbery.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:14:18

(btw-who wants a front seat at a school play?

I mean, yeah, sometimes just knowing you will get some kind of seat is a great thing. One of the few great things about being heavily pregnant in the summer

but at a school play-sounds more like a punishment, tbh)

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 11:14:31

grin - the shrubbery

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Wed 11-Jun-14 11:15:22

They were rude! How off putting.

And I hate the 'its always the same ones helping out or organising stuff' shite. Oh woe is me!

They shouldn't make people feel bad for not doing what they volunteered to do. Not everyones got the time to spare and are just happy going along and supporting events that they, the PTA, have organised to help the school.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:17:16

One thing my kids' school did (the one with the good PTA not the one I'm moaning about) was to set up a load of those affiliate accounts. Not sure what they are called but if you go to Amazon and lots of other retailers through their homepage the school gets a donation.

With a big school and gps and friends also using it, this actually translated into a decent whack of money and at no cost.

SapphireMoon Wed 11-Jun-14 11:18:27

Maybe they were just having a personal whinge to each other op.
Are you sure it was pointed or just a private conversation...

Our school pool in summer ran along the lines of "Use it, then you have to do some slots on the rota"
Nothing to do with the PTA

Well I suppose we could try that but who would organise it? Oh yes...

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 11:28:19

Nope the PTA didn't organise it - I did !grin

DamnBamboo Wed 11-Jun-14 11:33:02

I think if people don't volunteer, then that's not an issue.
If they complain about how it's being run and events that are being organised, then that is.

People love to moan, but rarely offer to help. That's my experience.

FWIW, I help out with the PTA and do my bit (although I work full time so am limited). I am also a school governor, again to help with the school strategically - not for any direct benefit to me or my children, but for an overall benefit for the school

I'll let you know if any of mine get the lead part, none have so far. I suppose there's time to flex my governor muscled and demand it hmm

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:35:48

I do really think there seems to be a lot of cynicism about what people will do without the PTA.

And yet two of my kids' schools have not really had a PTA and yet events have still been organised, people have still made friends and its been a much nicer place, I think, without that kind of hierarchy/guilt trip thing going on.

I think people do join the PTA to make friends and that's fine, so long as they don't then treat it as their exclusive social group. Or if they do, they need not to complain that no one wants to come.

Then we'll be needing you at our school to organise ours please! The point is, at our school the same people always do the organising, whether they do it as the PTA or not.

Ours is a small school, only about 120 pupils. So there isn't a big pool of willing parents to call on. It would really help if some others would step up just once in a while.

That was meant for MrsCripps by the way.

DamnBamboo Wed 11-Jun-14 11:44:05

Ours is a small school, only about 120 pupils. So there isn't a big pool of willing parents to call on. It would really help if some others would step up just once in a while

So is ours. A small school but it's the same few parents all the time.

ppplease Wed 11-Jun-14 11:49:14

Do the parents who dont help, want the ones that do to stop helping?

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 11:51:41

so long as they don't then treat it as their exclusive social group
I think you have hit the nail on the head there.

They start to monitor who joins and exclude/freeze out/bully those who are deemed not welcome in their social circle ( yes really) and then whinge that "no one helps"

I think that's the problem.

Bonsoir Wed 11-Jun-14 11:52:01

It's perfectly OK not to want to get involved in your DCs' school's PTA and it is perfectly OK to pick and choose what you would like to be involved in. It is also perfectly OK to think that some of the activities of your PTA are misguided and/or inappropriate - but best to keep those feelings to yourself!

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 11:54:26

"Ours is a small school, only about 120 pupils. So there isn't a big pool of willing parents to call on. It would really help if some others would step up just once in a while."

Well, why don't they? What's stopping them?

Are they shy or intimidated?

Sometimes when you are close to something its really hard to realise that actually you are being cliquey and intimidating.

Sometimes there are small, practical things, like meetings being logistically hard to attend but people being more than happy to, say, put stamps on envelopes or run a stall.

Its not actually my experience that people don't want to get involved but rather that there is a perception that the PTA don't really want new people, that they don't know where to start, etc etc.

Bonsoir Wed 11-Jun-14 11:54:57

It's also quite OK to think that PTA "helpers" get treated like the hired help by Queen Bee PTA "bosses" and to not want to participate on those terms!

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 11:55:03

PTAs don't have to be as described by many posts here. If everyone expects that, then it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as it puts others off.

I was chair of our PTA until fairly recently. I worked full-time as did the majority of the committee. All worked at least part-time. Half were men. All our meetings were in the evening and we never spent three hours in the playground discussing napkins. I don't have the time or inclination.

I hope we weren't seen as annoying Queen Bees (what would a male PTA committee member be called?) but it is hard to be sure. I do know we raised £30k in a fairly small primary school in my final year and had some bloody good events.

When I left I passed on to the new chair my contact list included the names of parents who were on the committee, or class reps, or who had played a role for organizing an activity recently, or who had offered to do so in the future. There were about 60 names on it - and that's not including all the people who just man a stall at the fete etc. if everyone gets involved then it works.

So to the echo the others. No you don't have to get involved. And yes you might find some tricky characters like anywhere else. But please don't pre-judge and please don't sneer without any good reason apart from what you've read on MN.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 12:01:41

I think that its the PTAs who become a "friends exclusive" that run into problems irregular its suddenly dawned on me after reading the post about being a friends group that that was the case with ours - it was their whole social life and they policed who joined and literally bullied people they didn't want out.

Some of us have had horrible experiences - really, really nasty and upsetting. So no prejudgement here - Im going on my experience.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 12:10:01

I agree mrscripps

Any other vintage MNs here? Anyone else remember Wiltshire and the mad tablecloth lady?

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 12:17:26

Surely the whole purpose of the PTA is to give all the other parents a target to moan about grin. Whatever they do is wrong I have found.

Ours is inclusive, holds meetings in the evenings every half term, runs some events for kids to enjoy and to raise funds for the school. Nearly 500 kids at the school same 6/7 ish parents turn up at the meetings (which are in the evenings). We are NOT cliquey. Some of our turner uppers are men, most work, some full time.

What is funny, perhaps because of threads like this or the media is the perception that PTAs are full of bitchy, cliquey caricatures. One mum turned up at our last meeting for the first time and shrieked "is this all the PTA is?!" just me and a few other friendly non threatening types (who are not a friendship group I don't know the others that well) sitting round a table with some bad wine.

If you don't want to be involved don't be that is fine. But don't slag off those that are, we are doing it to improve the school for all our kids that is all. Cleaning up after BBQs, scraping glue off tables, having the burden of an event on your shoulders, washing up. This stuff is NOT fun and NOT glamourous. Coming along and spending your money is great and supportive. But personally don't feel that is anything compared with those that have worked to put the bloody thing on in the first place. And you do get stuff for that money be it a burger or a fun afternoon for your family.

I think it would be sad if there weren't school events I remember them as a child. Still its more fun to be a cool critical mum downing rose on a rug rather than the frazzled mess with unsupervised kids running the bar, and in my next life I definitely will be the former!

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 12:20:00

MrsCripps that does sound awful. And non-professional. Nothing like I have experienced sounds horrendous no wonder you ran a mile.

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 12:20:47

At my dd's school they hold "parent consultation" meetings at 3pm on weekdays with a few days' notice. That alone puts me off. That's without even being a proper hands on person like a PTA person or a governor - basic parent consultation is in the middle of the afternoon with no time to organise getting there, ffs.

This thread is full of people saying "most people at my school who help out work full time" and that's great. But my dd's school is actively discriminatory against families without a SAHP. It is terrible about communicating with parents who don't go to the premises every day or nearly every day. Events like fairs involve signing up for things in person the day before, without notice, so your child doesn't get to see Father Christmas, etc. It really fucks me off for me, but it really really fucks me off on behalf of single parents.

And the double bind is I feel I can't complain about it because I don't have good enough relationships with the people who arrange all this! We all know the people who moan from a distance, without contributing anything, and I don’t want to be one. If I had done or said 19 good well received things, I wouldn’t mind the 20th being “there are things you could change”. But I have so little opportunity to get involved, the first, second and last things I could ever say, and only from a distance by email or something, are “why is everything so badly communicated to parents who WOH full time?”

Basically I have given up (already – my dc1 is in reception.) I will send things that are asked for in writing, unless they are things that have to be homemade by children without a weekend between the request and the deadline. I will support my dc’s actual education with reading, helping her prepare show and tell, etc. All the rest – they clearly don’t need me as they have made it impossible for me or my dp to take part, so fuck em.

Sianilaa Wed 11-Jun-14 12:21:50

Sorry I should have explained that better but was leaving the house!

I don't do it for a front seat - in fact, I attend as many school functions as I can because the children invite the governors and I like to show my support to the kids and staff and school. I often go to see things that my own children aren't in. I've also had a load of verbal abuse off parents for having a reserved seat when my own child wasn't in said play.

I also work, most governors do! I wasn't judging anyone who can't take on the role but please don't whinge about those of us that do! Governors have quite a big responsibility and not many people are willing to take it on. It's a shame, I think.

I agree with a pp who said £25 or whatever is a lot in one go, and a lot of families might not be able to find it. But spread over the year for discos, fetes and fireworks night etc it's not so bad. Although it would be a lot less hassle for everyone smile

Our PTA is also on the verge of closing because of lack of interest which would be a real shame.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 12:23:46

Being a good governor is very hard work- and a school literally can't function without a governing body.

Sigyn Wed 11-Jun-14 12:27:37

"We are NOT cliquey"

Yeah but, yk, no one thinks they are cliquey.

If you have only 6 or 7 people turning up out of a huge school and that's an issue, maybe its worth having a think about why most people don't find the PTA approachable enough to join in?

Because I can tell you that at my kids' last school, there were parents there who volunteered habitually. Scouts, Rainbows, local fetes you name it, they were there. Not the PTA. So I don't think its fair to dismiss it as people just being lazy. Its more complex.

Its this same attitude "without us there would be No School Discos!" But that's not true-or its not my experience, anyway, and its quite a cynical view.

I think one thing PTAs can do, pragmatically, is to put much more emphasis on getting to know parents and being friendly rather than turning it into some kind of a "how much can you do?" competition.

BomChickaMeowMeow Wed 11-Jun-14 12:30:48

I think teachers do expect more than ever of parents these days (not saying it is teachers' fault necessarily, more due to the curriculum)- ironically, as many more children are in a family where both parents work - and there is enough to do without helping with fundraising.

However I have managed to be on the PTFA for a few years whilst working, some of that full time and it is great to see money you have raised being put to good use. Also I think it's much better for your children, they feel supported when you are an informed and clued up parent involved with school life- my parents never were and I always wished they had been. Having said that I have right royally had enough after being on the committee for several years, but will still help out at some of the events!

If people could just do a little bit- helping for half an hour at a stall for the summer fair, for example, it makes it better for everyone.

NurseRoscoe Wed 11-Jun-14 12:31:23

Bloody hell mine aren't at school yet just nursery but it's hard enough juggling Childcare where I work full time let alone being expected to volunteer too!

I work as a nurse so have a varied shift pattern. If my kids were in a play, had parents evening, sports day or something I would change my shift or book annual leave. Some people just can't commit to voluntary fun activities as they have already committed to providing for their families. It may be the same faces all the time as these parents are lucky enough to have a partner earning enough so they don't have to work, it's quite simple really, no need for anyone to be snide about it!

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 12:31:57

We do introduce ourselves at the new parents evenings. However one suggestion was that I as chair walk around all 4 playgrounds introducing myself to every parent. Sorry but that fills me with dread I am not confident enough to do that. Still am stepping down this term so not my problem any more.

BomChickaMeowMeow Wed 11-Jun-14 12:34:17

It may be the same faces all the time as these parents are lucky enough to have a partner earning enough so they don't have to work, it's quite simple really, no need for anyone to be snide about it!

I find that comment quite snide TBH. I organised the quiz night, one of the main fundraising events at school while working FT as a lawyer and being the main breadwinner, FWIW.

I'm not too close. As I said before, I am also on the outside, until I volunteer later today anyway.

Our PTA doesn't seem to resemble some of those described in this thread. I haven't found any of them to be unfriendly or intimidating, there are no cliques, no queen bees. I don't think they're even especially close friends outside of the PTA. I guess I'll find out for myself soon.

I don't think most of those who don't help are shy or intimidated. They seem to be the same ones who always arrived en masse just after the start and left just before the end of toddler group so they didn't have to help set up or clear away.

BomChickaMeowMeow Wed 11-Jun-14 12:37:38

They seem to be the same ones who always arrived en masse just after the start and left just before the end of toddler group so they didn't have to help set up or clear away.

Quite. And the ones who get together in little cliques to bitch about the school.

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 12:40:40

Exactly bom. Dh and I both lawyers and we manage. Actually it's not the non participation that bugs me but the non participation plus criticism. Dh is not an aggressive man but have never seen him so pissed off as he was after a stint on the BBQ (after a 50 hour week) where some parents were complaining about the wait for their food! He had to remind one lady to say thank you! He is definitely not cut out for volunteering grin

SapphireMoon Wed 11-Jun-14 12:42:05

I'm not working at the moment. [Paid work that is]. It is a choice of sorts but we are not well off and make sacrifices re clothing, holidays, car etc and value range and hand me downs all the way.
I too find 'these parents are lucky enough to have a partner earning enough so they don't have to work' comment very snide.

BomChickaMeowMeow Wed 11-Jun-14 12:49:57

Kerala - I do wonder if some people think you get paid for it rather than being a volunteer?

HumphreyCobbler Wed 11-Jun-14 12:51:53

The op was not rude, but plenty of others have been.

TeenAndTween Wed 11-Jun-14 13:04:53

Actually it's not the non participation that bugs me but the non participation plus criticism.

^^This.

Our PTA has had people moaning that the fair is too expensive (most games 30p-50p), is on the wrong day, or wrong time, or not advertised, or .. or ... Also why don't you do XYZ etc etc etc.

Sometimes these people come on to the committee and moan there too, but never offer to actually do anything themselves. Or occasionally they do offer to take an action on themselves and then don't do it .

As a matter of interest, do all the people up thread who have said they would rather just make a donation ever actually proactively get their cheque books out and make one? I haven't noticed anyone saying: I opt out of PTA activities but make a donation instead.

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 13:58:24

"do all the people up thread who have said they would rather just make a donation ever actually proactively get their cheque books out and make one? "

I wasn't one of the people but I sympathise with the POV.

However in order to make the donation I would have to have information I can't have without hanging round at the school in my work hours such as:

roughly how much is expected or reasonable or hoped for per head (even if I choose to double it to make up for those on hard times or whatever) - per year per term or per event;

Whom the cheque should be payable to;

whom the cheque should be physically given to

Stinkle Wed 11-Jun-14 14:02:26

To be honest, with things like the PTA, there will always be people who moan and criticise and never help out.

You can never completely win. All the events we run are well received, the vast majority cheerfully dig out the bottles from the back of the cupboard, make some cakes, hand over money and help out where they can.

There's always that small group of people who will find fault with everything. They moan about the school fete, but the year we didn't run one they moaned about not having one

My DH is a scout leader. The same parents bitching and moaning about the school are the same parents bitching and moaning and refusing to take their turn on the parent rota at scouts

Help, don't help, I don't care either way, but for gods sake, stop bloody moaning about it

redskyatnight Wed 11-Jun-14 14:03:23

Well none of that is actually very difficult to get find out allhailqueenmab

You donate whatever sum of money you can afford to/want to.

You make the cheque payable to whatever your PTA asks you to make fundraiser cheques payable to (or if you really don't know, ring or send a note to the school office or just leave the cheque blank with a covering note or make it payable to the school!).

You ask your child to hand it in at the office/give it to teacher or whatever the approved method of message handing in is at your school.

Stinkle Wed 11-Jun-14 14:06:06

Sorry

Help, don't help, I don't care either way, but for gods sake, stop bloody moaning about it

Sorry, that bit was directed at the moaners and constant crisis ears at my children's school

flowery Wed 11-Jun-14 14:08:32

"I've also had a load of verbal abuse off parents for having a reserved seat when my own child wasn't in said play."

Although obviously verbally abusing you isn't right, I think it's fair enough for them to be cross about that actually. As a governor, if I decided to attend a play my child wasn't in, I wouldn't dream of taking up a good seat which could be occupied by the parent of a child actually in the play. I'd stand at the back out of the way and allow those parents with children participating to benefit from sitting near the stage.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 14:14:20

Allhwilqueenmab- yes I can see how those problems could be practically insurmountable. grin However, as I have been variously involved in PTAs for 13 years, I have been let into various secrets, which I am happy to share with you if you promise not to tell anyone.

1.Make the cheque out for whatever figure seems reasonable to you. £50 looks about right.
2.Make it out to [ X ]School PTA
3.Put it in an envelope with an explanatory note.
4.Address the envelope to the PTA Treasurer.
5 Give it to your child to give to her teacher, who will put it in the right pigeonhole.

There you go. 5 minutes of your super-valuable time.

but I bet you don't

Poledra Wed 11-Jun-14 14:28:54

Another parent-governor here. Who also works FT and is the main bread-winner. And I get no preferential treatment at school events - unless you count being begged by the HT/other member of staff to help out with the tickets/teas/something else as they know I'll say yes.

It really pisses me off when people mutter about 'Governors' children getting the best parts in the play' or whatever. Recently, one of my DCs has been on 3 separate school sports teams. Because that child put their name down, turned up for practice (often giving up lunchtimes) and did well, they were picked for all 3 teams. But I'm sure that some people think it's because their mother is a governor <sigh>

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 14:44:30

My friend who is a governor was recently asked how much she got paid for it....

And the rather write a cheque brigade make mr snigger. They never do actually write a cheque and also miss the point about kids loving the events - it's not all about the money.

tiredandsadmum Wed 11-Jun-14 14:46:55

I'm not reading 6 pages of threads, but it is possible to help without being on the pTA and that should include the full time working parents too. Your children benefit from all the hard work of others who juggle part time jobs, complex families etc.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 14:49:28

How do you know they don't write a cheque KERALA maybe they don't need to preen and make it all about them unlike the bloody PTA martyrs
I gave a cheque every term - didn't mention it ever .

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 14:55:27

1.Make the cheque out for whatever figure seems reasonable to you. £50 looks about right.

for a year, or what?

2.Make it out to [ X ]School PTA

Really? Will the bank account definitely be called that and won't it be a headache for someone if not? There are about 7 words in my child's school's official name but it is always called by 2. How do I know what the bank account is called?

3.Put it in an envelope with an explanatory note.

ok even I can manage that

4.Address the envelope to the PTA Treasurer.

I don't know who that is, how to find out, or the name of anyone who may know, when or where they meet, or anything like that because nothing is communicated on that in writing or email- you have to hang around the school to find out these secrets. I am not even sure we have a PTA, I have never heard of it. But we do have events, to which we contribute what we are told that does not involve hanging around in the middle of the day at school

5 Give it to your child to give to her teacher, who will put it in the right pigeonhole.

ok

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Wed 11-Jun-14 14:58:01

If PTA helpers don't appreciate comments about them then they also need to keep quiet themselves. It's a choice and whilst any money generated goes to the school, without the parents supporting events set up by the PTA - and without the PTA setting them up in the first place, none of it would happen.

Everybody should keep schtumm and just get on or not get on with it as they wish, in a very zen-like manner...

maninawomansworld Wed 11-Jun-14 14:58:39

Life is too short for all that rubbish. Take the DC's to school and pick them up at the end of the day. Attend school fetes, Christmas plays etc (if you actually WANT to go - not because you feel you should), and draw a line at that.

You're not even involved in school life (yet!) and you've got the 'queen bees' sniping at you.

Run, far ,far away!

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 15:05:54

If everyone followed your advice maninawoman's world then there wouldn't BE any school fetes. Which seems a shame.

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 15:06:17

I really don't appreciate digs about "my valuable time". It really is, actually. Not because I am like really important or anything but because it takes up practically all my time to do the things my family actually rely on like

- earn a living (12 hours a day)
- basic laundry and house / garden stuff
- presents, social stuff, things like that, nice things that give my dcs a nice time and integrate them with world, friends, family (that sounds poncey but all kids deserve a social life and mine are too little to manage one on their own)
- other activities with the dcs that are good and enjoyable for them (basic reading practice, occasional swimming, church, music group that sort of thing)

Basically, without, as I said, being deluded that I am really important - and despite having a really helpful and flexible childminder - I just can't find time to do things I don't have to do.

Things included in the list of things I don't do because I don't have to:

Shopping for clothes for me
taking part in my own hobbies
Any house stuff - decorating etc - that is not utterly basic
changing my own bloody sheets (often enough)
seeing my friends
Supporting / volunteering for any charities or political organisations that are important to me
Music
Interesting cooking or shopping for interesting food

These are all things I would like to do and I'm afraid the implication that I am up myself because my time is more valuable than to be spent dicking around trying to find members of some secret society and finding out exactly how high they would like me to jump - before I even do the bloody jumping - is incredibly annoying.

I know I am not super woman and I bet a million of you who are, are now going to jump on here and say "I do all that, and volunteer for medicins sans frontiers and run the PTA and and and and -" well bully for you, well done, but I just can't do any more and I really don't like the snippy tone from some on this thread.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 15:06:28

Yep- whatever the school is known as will do. Or its official name. The bank account will cope.

Just write "PTA treasurer" on the envelope. Or "PTA Chair". They will know who they are. If you don't want the arduous task of looking on the school website -the names are probably there.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 15:08:37

I only made the valuable time dig because you could have dashed off a cheque to the PTA and not had to think about it til next year in the time it took you to writ a post about how difficult that would be to do,

BreconBeBuggered Wed 11-Jun-14 15:09:20

You sound pretty snippy for someone who doesn't actually know if there's even a PTA to not join, queenmab.

Bramshott Wed 11-Jun-14 15:11:45

Most PTAs are charities so a quick search on the Charity Commission website will give you the official name very quickly.

OP - are you sure they were talking loudly and pointedly near you? It's quite possible they were just having a moan (because school fundraising and helping can feel relentless sometimes) and you happened to be nearby.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 15:12:16

So you are being made to jump through hoops by an organisation you don't know whether exists or not?

Are you sure you're not talking about Opus Dei? Or the Bundaberg Group?

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 15:16:15

No, none of this is on the school website. Nothing of any use is, really, not even dropping off and picking up times! I have been over that site a thousand times trying to find things out. I know it backwards.

No, Hakluyt, the organisation that may or not exist is not making me do anything. If you read my post properly, what I am objecting to is the implication on here - perhaps by posters like you - that I should be scurrying about fact finding and in the service of this organisation - that people like me who geniunely do not have the means to do so are automatically lax and selfish

Downamongtherednecks Wed 11-Jun-14 15:16:33

my children's (private) school has formalised the "pay or participate" system. Every family has to volunteer for 10 hours per school year, or pay 5 pounds per hour missed. Making cakes is one hour, for example. Helping lunch supervision is one hour. Meeting and Greeting at open evening "pays" double hours, as everyone hates it. But if you send in 50 pounds then you don't have to volunteer all year. I prefer to do that, as it irritates me to to have to get someone at school to "sign off" the hours I have volunteered. (I still send it cakes though)

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 15:35:25

£50 sounds like a bargain to me!

I can see that there would be problems - if you are struggling financially, are a carer, having cancer treatment etc then you might not have the money or the time.

I think it should be voluntary especially if you are forking out for school fees!

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 15:42:07

I think that formalising a 'pay or participate' system is rather sad and actually undermines the ethos of a PTA and a school community. I think there are parents who are happy to participate, but would actually stop if they were told that their willing participation was only actual 'worth' £5 an hour in cold, hard cash to the school. Less than the minimum wage!

And if each family only paid £50 a year we would only make a quarter of what we made last year - and the children wouldn't get to enjoy fetes, discos, film shows etc. And though it may surprise you, some of the parents enjoy PTA events too!

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 15:43:00

And you could never enforce it, so many people wouldn't do either.

happyyonisleepyyoni Wed 11-Jun-14 15:44:21

Don't complain if your school PTA folds then, OP.

I ran our PTA for four years until my youngest left primary. I did it because my kids loved the events and I felt it was important to try and foster a sense of community around the school. It was a constant drudge to get volunteers and the people who were reliable tended to suffer from burn-out after a while as so much fell on their shoulders.

I laugh at the idea that I or others on the PTA were "Queen Bee" types excluding others. I'm afraid thats a myth dreamt up by people seeking to justify their own laziness in not being bothered to join in.

Downamongtherednecks Wed 11-Jun-14 15:52:20

irregularregular you are right about the events being very limited. Our school basically said they would have one gigantic fundraiser per year (a formal dinner/dance/ball whatever) and as long as it raised enough money there would be no other fundraisers. The big event usually does raise enough as they give free booze and then have an auction and everyone is very drunk and bids too much <looks bitterly at strimmer bought for twice retail amount by drunk husband>

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 15:56:04

You've got to admit that the PTA ethos takes a bit of a superior stance - like only they care - only they get involved and do all the work. What self-sacrificing people they are and they get no appreciation for it.

I for one would happily donate £50 so as not to be subject to any of this passive aggressive behaviour and letters from the PTA wanting money.

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 15:56:23

Exactly happy well said. Mrscripps and others just because you have met some horrors on the PTA you can't extrapolate that everyone is like that. It's fine not to volunteer but don't whine about the efforts of those that do.

Also the cliquey thing in my experience its the reverse. The larger friendship groups avoid the PTA. Quite a few of our regulars are wohm who don't meet other parents at the school gate but want to get involved. Partly why we so effective despite being few in number and raise a decent amount of money.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 15:59:51

Sadly not a myth here happy- I did help and was treated appallingly by some of the vilest people I have ever met.

The only thing that stopped it was police involvement and a caution.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 16:01:11

KERALA I did volunteer !!!!!

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Wed 11-Jun-14 16:03:52

I don't whine about the efforts of those that volunteer to do it but I certainly don't wish to be on the receiving end of comments that imply that I really should. Oh and I'm considered lazy if I don't.

Really?

careeristbitchnigel Wed 11-Jun-14 16:05:23

t's a bit annoying when it's the same old parents who never help at all, or take part. It's always the same ones putting the majority of the work in

Some of us don't have the luxury of time to get involved, earning money to keep a roof over our heads gets in the way.
I can never go to any of dd's school stuff because they give no notice at all and it's too late to swap my shift or book leave.

skyeskyeskye Wed 11-Jun-14 16:09:15

Our PTA is down to about 3 members now. They are desperate but nobody will go on the committee. Myself included.

I have offered to help when asked but simply don't have the time for meetings or a position. One mum said I've done it for years whilst being a single parent. But she doesn't run her own business like me working all hours. I do intend to go on it at some point. DD is only in class 1 so plenty of time. And I always help out at the fayres held twice a year and support all events.

The PTA is a good thing, they have paid for buses for trips, which keeps down the overall costs to parents. they've paid for play equipment. If everybody took a turn on the commuter for just one year then it would keep going.

Bonsoir Wed 11-Jun-14 16:18:57

Our PA membership costs EUR 55 per year IIRC. All parents get billed for it.

raffle Wed 11-Jun-14 16:27:29

DS has ASD and if I were to volunteer to help out with school things it would confuse the life out of him. School and home are two very seperate things in his mind.

(Must admit, this is one of the few positive aspects of his ASD smile)

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 16:31:05

MrsItsNoworNotatAll

"I don't whine about the efforts of those that volunteer to do it but I certainly don't wish to be on the receiving end of comments that imply that I really should. Oh and I'm considered lazy if I don't.

Really?"

I completely agree with this.

I know money is good and useful and can be put to good use, I get that, but really we are just recycling parents' resources in a very wasteful way.

It doesn’t fulfil a social need as some posters have suggested. I have ample opportunity to hang out with people and eat cake and so do my children – more opportunity than we have time (which was one of my points above). Adding the Christmas fair (on 4 December? Really) and the summer thingy to this don’t add anything to our lives.

I know it is hard work organising these things, with a million bits and pieces to chase after, but honestly, on some level, you do it because you like it. I don’t mean you are necessarily the queen bee type like Lemon Drizzle Atrocious Cunt (although they do exist, people should not pretend they don’t) – but some people like to be busy and feel good and noble and at the heart of things, and some people are so utterly worn out by the basics (admittedly through personal weakness, lack of stamina and introversion in my case – see above – but it is genuine and not affected exhaustion) that the business of dicking about with these things is simply too much.

And you know what, I think that’s fine. I don’t think I am letting the community down by not being the sort of person who wants to soak time and energy – my own and others – into these inefficient clambakes. I no more deserve to be tutted at than I would dream of tutting at all the people who go to church, send their dcs to the church school, and don’t sing in the choir. I know not everyone wants to do it, or even can. It doesn’t make me flounce about in a cloud of sanctimony. The truth is I am naturally talented AND I have worked hard on all music all my life AND I am committed to rehearsals, services and weddings WHICH luckily happen to take place outside my working hours AND when dp can do childcare. That is 5 significant and necessary factors that HAPPEN to coincide in me, and so I am part of a small and very good choir who add a lot to the life of the church. That doesn’t give me the right to make digs at the majority of the congregation who simply cannot bring these 5 things together, or may not in fact want to, and it doesn’t make them lazy.

And these school clambakes are not efficient. The labour + materials for, for instance, the cake sale, is never reflected in the price. That parent could have just donated money*. It’s just pushing parents’ resources around in a way that satisfies some people’s sense that This Is What Is Needed.

*To those who will jump in going "AHA but DID they give money?!?!?!?" like they have proved something - no, they were asked to give cakes. People like to please and to fit in. It isn't the done thing to do not the done thing. And it is clear from this thread that not doing the done thing is very frowned upon by some, for not very good reasons, but frowned upon all the same. the point is, WHY NOT CHANGE WHAT THE DONE THING IS?

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 16:43:58

That is a brilliant post allhail especially the bit about some people being worn down with the basics.
If I was a carer, facing cancer treatment ,had been bereaved, just had a baby or facing any one of the major life events then I would quite frankly want to ram cupcakes up the bloody noses of those who called me lazy!
Maybe people don't want the whole school community knowing their business so they quietly say no and are judged instead.

As it was I did volunteer and look where it got me!

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 16:49:01

"Our school basically said they would have one gigantic fundraiser per year (a formal dinner/dance/ball whatever) and as long as it raised enough money there would be no other fundraisers. "

this is a great idea. Part of it is the drip drip drip - you feel you have to manage your contributions because there will be more demands in a couple of weeks

If you just had one big summer party, for instance (better than xmas because xmas is so busy, and expensive, and the weather is likely to be better, and it could have a celebratory "end of academic year" vibe) - or maybe in september, as a "get to know the children / parents" opportunity - people might actually get excited about it, and even enjoy it!

Then, while people were actually there, you could milk them for all they were worth

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 16:51:52

I'd just like to add the Very Important Point that the PTA never laid on economically inefficient cake sales on my watch (or any other cake sales - apart from as refreshments at the summer fete)

I'm actually quietly confident that if we asked our parents to choose between the status quo and every family paying out £200 a year and not having any PTA events for children or adults then the vast majority would vote for the status quo. Maybe we should try it.

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 16:53:14

by "milk them for what they are worth" I mean for cold hard cash that you can convert directly into whatever the school needs.

by means of

- Blatant tin shaking
- Selling booze / drinks at cost price + a decent percentage - fair enough
- Auctions for things that are labour free to provide (signed things from people with contacts, etc - or privileges - a chance to kick the headteacher up the arse once a month or something. Maybe once a term)

NOT by selling / raffling / auctioning things that cost someone's labour and time to provide which is always massively inefficient in its conversion to cash

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 16:58:51

"what I am objecting to is the implication on here - perhaps by posters like you - that I should be scurrying about fact finding and in the service of this organisation - that people like me who geniunely do not have the means to do so are automatically lax and selfish"

"Scurrying around" in the case you outlined would have involved 5 minutes thought or one phone call.

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 17:04:39

why should I? serious question

allhailqueenmab Wed 11-Jun-14 17:08:46

a row of serious questions:

1 - why should I? (how will it improve anything in erm the world?)
2 - what makes you think you know why I should (or anyone) (or, do you really think people like this have the right to set my priorities, and if so, why?)
3 - how will it honestly be received if I phone up a series of office numbers, leaving messages until I get through to someone, eventually saying

"Ah yes I just wanted to know if there is a PTA and if so who is the treasurer and in what name is their bank account"
School office worker: "why?"
"I want to write a cheque"
"erm ok, why?"
"I have decided to write a cheque right now instead of taking part in any school events"

Then, as the school office worker will invariably not have all the info, I will find myself trying to get hold of someone else and having the same conversation

Will this make me popular in the school or improve esprit de corps?

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 17:13:35

You wouldn't be "scurrying around in service of this organisation" if by "this organisation" you mean the PTA committee. You would be scurrying around for a whole 5 minutes in service of the school and its pupils.

Yes, ideally, the PTA committee might have invested time to make it easier for you. But, on second thoughts, why should they? I'm sure their time is very valuable.

irregularegular Wed 11-Jun-14 17:15:22

To be honest, all hail, if you don't even know whether a PTA exists, this whole discussion is bizarrely abstract.

redskyatnight Wed 11-Jun-14 17:17:34

allhailqueenmab at DC's last school, someone put some money in an envelope and addressed it "to the PTA" and handed it in at the school office. I can ensure you that this anonymous person was very highly thought of!!

Again at DC's school , the summer fete was always held after sports day, on the basis that lots of parents do take time off work for sports' day, and also invite grandparents etc so it would ensure that more people could come and there would be a bigger pool of people available to help. Most children at school stayed for the fete with their families and the vast majority had more than one adult with them. Again, the vast majority were still there 2 hours later. Frankly if you can spend 2 hours at a fete and sitting in the sum chatting to other parents, particularly if you have another parent with you or grandparents (to look after younger siblings) then yes you can spend 20 minutes on a stall. But still no one offered. That's the sort of thing that people moan about.

superstarheartbreaker Wed 11-Jun-14 17:20:04

I am extremely grateful for the PTA and I was a member BUT when I took on a ft teaching job some of the pta(who don't work) made some comments about how I should get more involved when I just didn't have the time.
PTA is not compulsory. It's voluntary and the same old people volunteer because they WANT to.

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 17:25:38

There is a political view that parents should never contribute anything financially as its a slippery slope to individuals rather than the state funding education. My friends husband uses this as his reason for never helping at school.Can see his point but pragmatically if you want the extras these days parents need to step up.

The rules of volunteering

You will volunteer to help out at fetes when your child is in reception because you are new to all this and you don't know the pitfalls. The woman who runs the PTA has hollow-eyed desperation etched into her face and you feel obliged because you're 'the type of person who volunteers'.

By the time your child is in yr1 you will have accidentally agreed to go along to PTA meetings and find yourself on the committee. You get asked to be more and more involved and the woman in charge is so passionate you can't so no.

By yr 2, you're running the discos and the film nights single-handed, having discovered that half the original committee have all buggered off.

By the juniors you are begging people to join the committee. You're now in charge and no-one wants to meet your eye for fear that you'll rope them in to running a stall, or worse. Your friends avoid you in the playground, but on facebook they say you are such a good person and do so much for the school. You literally organise the whole summer fete single-handed and just hope people will turn up on the day to help out.

In two years you are haggared and knackered and have no friends. You have turned into the woman who runs the PTA. You look in the mirror and see the same desperate look. Your voice has taken on a weird squeaky tone. You've discovered that 'the type of person who volunteers is hard to find. Then one day you see 'her' collecting her child from reception. She's so young and full of energy. You latch on to her with a hungry look in your eye and persuade her to organise the jolly jars for the summer fete.

By the time your child is in yr5 your exit plan is in place and you are counting the days until you drop the bombshell. You're now so knackered that you don't care. You hope you never have to see another tombola ticket ever again.

Secretly though, you've been considering joining the local village hall committee, although you haven't yet had the balls to tell your other half. You just can't help being 'the type of person who volunteers'.

happyyonisleepyyoni Wed 11-Jun-14 18:03:01

Ha, farewellfigure do you know me???!!

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Wed 11-Jun-14 18:08:14

HahahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAAAAAA! farewellfigure

Hi happyyoni. Sadly it's pretty much me but on the village committee rather then the school one. I see the PTA mums looking at me hungrily and I feel like a lamb amongst wolves. I hear them say 'if you want something done, ask a busy person' as they eye me up, but honestly, organising the village fun day and Christmas fete is more than enough. I went to a PTA meeting last month (they'd disguised it as a coffee morning then POUNCED when we were all sat down) and got so scared I volunteered to design posters for them. My DH was incredulous.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 18:17:16

All hail- I don't think you should. I thought you said that you would be happy to donate some money to the PTA to prevent them pestering you, and you didn't know how. And that no knowing how was all that was stopping you.

I told you how. No need for scurrying or phone calls. I promise if you do what I said the cheque will get to the PTA bank account. To recap. Writ cheque to X school PTA (full name or usual name- either will do). Put in envelope with covering note. Write "PTA treasure" ( no name needed) on said envelope. Ask your child to drop it in at the office or give to her teacher tomorrow.

Or not. Whichever. But saying that it is an impossibly difficult task is just silly.

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 18:31:01

Ha farewell so true! What baffles dh is why I do it. When he sees the PTA doing stuff for free and yet getting criticised for it! Hilarious! I am no surrendered wife but after the last year culminating in BBQ clear up hell for both of us whilst everyone else (sane) scuttled off home dh has now forbidden me from volunteering - that's the end of it!

The cliche "no good deed goes unpunished" is horribly true in the PTA world....

xihha Wed 11-Jun-14 18:53:17

Haha farewell, then your DC joins a club and you offer to help out for one meeting, next thing you know the cubs need your help for every trip and camp, scouts could actually really use a bit of help fundraising please and you've ended up a Rainbow leader and now you're suddenly helping out with guides despite not having a teenage daughter yet, oh and the Brownies might need you to help out a bit for the next few weeks, you are suddenly involved in random events that you have no idea how you got roped into and knowing that you never say no to things and that everyone knows this you are now scared to open your email in case there's another request... somewhere in all this you realise that you've spent 18 hours this week organising and helping out at various children's events and that's not even the busiest week this month!

OP YANBU and your post wasn't rude, the 2 mums talking pointedly about how it's always the same people helping were rude though, I might moan about it on here but I'd never judge or bitch about someone in rl for not volunteering (although maybe that's why I end up doing so much) so long as you send in the bits you are asked to when you can then you are supporting the PTA.

Waltermittythesequel Wed 11-Jun-14 18:54:55

I'm afraid thats a myth dreamt up by people seeking to justify their own laziness in not being bothered to join in.

See, it's that attitude right there that I can't stand and that I've come across in my PTA.

Laziness in not being bothered or having an actual real life and not having my social calendar revolve around shitty school events with the other loser mums?

*DISCLAIMER: I don't think the above and have, in fact, helped out on several occasions.

I'm just pointing out that sneering about the people who can't help is one of the reasons that our PTA only have each other as friends and are avoided at all costs.

The cool mums are just as bad, on the other end of the spectrum.

Thankfully, all the normal folk are somewhere in between!

KERALA1 Wed 11-Jun-14 18:58:57

All PTA mums Walter?! You sound just adorable.

Waltermittythesequel Wed 11-Jun-14 19:08:30

All PTA mums Walter?! You sound just adorable

What?

xihha Wed 11-Jun-14 19:10:22

Walter, I'm not keen on that attitude either, its the few PTA mums that are like that which put other parents off helping with everything.

Waltermittythesequel Wed 11-Jun-14 19:11:15

xihha I'm glad you got what I was saying!

ChocolateWombat Wed 11-Jun-14 19:18:12

I understand not everyone wants to join a committee or attend social events and fundraisers. However many of the events are aimed at the children too, so being totally uninvolved means the children missing the disco or the fete, or whatever, which is a shame.

The thing I can't understand is why everyone can't bring themselves to recognise the hard work put in by volunteers and the direct benefit it brings to all of the children in terms of resources available, that wouldn't be there otherwise. Recognising that work and saying 'thank you' goes a long way to making the few doing it, feel valued. It is not why they do it, but zit hunk they deserve that thanks and recognition, regardless of whether we like their style or not.

Generally I think there is too much mean spiritedness. People like to sneer about Queen Bee types, but their own children are benefitting from the fact that a few people are willing to get organising. So do t join in if you don't want to, but a show of appreciation wouldn't go amiss and doesn't cost anything!

Animation Wed 11-Jun-14 19:28:27

"However many of the events are aimed at the children too, so being totally uninvolved means the children missing the disco or the fete, or whatever, which is a shame."

You see there's that attitude again! It's patronising and PTA letters are often worded that way as well. It's such a shame that you don't see it.

KERALA1 don't get me started on volunteers getting flack. I've been shouted at, abused, and received horrible emails from people because they didn't agree with something I've done or haven't done in the village. Volunteers do open themselves up for some flack. And I sympathise with the 'great BBQ clear up'. Ouch.

However just to put a bit of perspective on it, I do see why people don't volunteer. It is hard work and if you don't have time, you don't have time! Some people just don't. Luckily in ds's school, most people are happy to muck in and spend a bit of time behind a stall. And the PTA are all lovely. It's just that no-one wants to actually commit to the committee (iyswim). Committees get such bad press!

ChocolateWombat Wed 11-Jun-14 19:35:10

I do understand that PTAs can seem patronising. I do understand that they can be run by women who have a lot of time on their hands (or not in many cases) for whom it becomes a bigger focus in their life than it should. I do understand that communications are not always sensitive.

However, do you know how demoralising it can be for those running these events to struggle to sell tickets, or to struggle to staff the stalls.

The tone might sometimes be patronising. However, the intention to raise money for the school is a good one and it DOES achieve a real benefit for the children. There cannot be any denying that. And for that reason, if that reason only, I think they are due to respect and recognition. Is it not possible to get beyond finding some of the individuals involved a bit annoying and just appreciate what they are doing and it's positive effects?

chocoluvva Wed 11-Jun-14 19:49:53

YANBU pinkroses

Some primary schools seem to think you should run your whole life around school - helping at it, spending ages making costumes for things like world book day, craft projects, joining the PTA etc.

Our own children aren't charities - raising funds for things like providing extra technology in schools is not a charitable exercise - so nobody need be precious about it. [hrrumph]

The best way you can support the school is by supporting the authority of the teachers when your children complain about them, sending forms and homework on time and teaching your children good manners, social skills and personal skills- such as doing-up buttons, looking after equipment well.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 19:53:39

Maybe if you are struggling to sell tickets then the events are not viable chocolate

I agree completely with the fact that the PTA (here anyway) place too much emphasis on how important it is .
They are strangely ragey and bristling with disapproval at anyone who has an actual real life that doesn't revolve around them.
And they wonder why no one wants to join them!

rocketjam Wed 11-Jun-14 19:59:43

You don't need to volunteer up to your neck, or to be there at every single event, or go to meetings. You could just go for one hour after a (fête, party, movie night) and help clear up. They raise money so that all children at school benefit.PTA does a great deal at my children's school, especially for outdoor stuff, and I am very grateful for what they do. But because of work commitment, I can only volunteer a few hours a year, and I do without getting involved too much, just by turning up and helping out for whatever is needed. It doesn't have to be political, social event, I don't do it to make friends, or to show off my (baking, face painting, selling - delete as appropriate) skills. It is your children's school, and I think that you can get involved whilst avoiding the pitfalls.

Swoosg Wed 11-Jun-14 20:11:57

Agree with rocket ... I don't do a lot but I do the odd thing to help out. My kids love the fair and school discos and I like seeing them happy. Am grateful to the mums who do a lot, too!

CheshireEditor Wed 11-Jun-14 20:19:20

I just think how hard is it to put on a few fake tat's, man Splte the Rat for half an hour or bake a few cakes, watch 150 infants bounce up and down to Crazy Frog for an hour? Really, how hard is that?

Such an easy peasy no brainer, I really don't get the hoo haa that some make on both sides of the camp.

If you want a great school for your kids you have to help somewhere along the way, in your own way. I've never been on the PTA but helped out with stuff eg: gone on a school trip, planted some trees, manned a stall or two, helped back some books in plastic, helped get receptions dressed for nativity - all easy stuff that requires no back patting or certificates of mercy.

We have a quizz night recently, £10 a head inc. fish and chips, loads chipped in with the question making, ordering the F&C's, setting up the bar and it was a darn great laugh.

If you can help the odd time, then great, every little helps or try it you might like it!

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 21:09:50

Oh Cheshireyou sound so naïve - if only it was that easy.
You clearly havent been involved with the Toxic PTA - they made my life hell -police involved - only wanted to sell a few cakes !

HumphreyCobbler Wed 11-Jun-14 21:21:58

most PTFA are not toxic though, are they? Surely they are the exception.

My involvement is pretty much as Cheshire describes.

Pilgit Wed 11-Jun-14 21:25:58

God I hate the school gates! Thankfully due to working full time I don't have to very often.i will probably also get jibes like this (along with comments about how my dc are suffering through me working). If I do get it they will not know what hits them (I already run 2 guide units work full time do other stuff and have dc!)

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 21:28:45

No, of course they're not, Humphrey. It's a Mumsnet meme. Perpetuated by either the sort of person who is too idle to help and so makes up stories to justify themselves, or the painfully cool,who thinks they are above associating with "school gate mums" so amuse themselves mocking the "mundanes" who do.

Some people are too busy to help. Some people are too shy to help. Some people just don't want to. That's all fine. But there is no need to attack the people who do. You are no better or worse than they are. Just different.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 11-Jun-14 21:30:29

I couldn't agree more with this
"Some people are too busy to help. Some people are too shy to help. Some people just don't want to. That's all fine. But there is no need to attack the people who do. You are no better or worse than they are. Just different."

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 21:30:52

"i will probably also get jibes like this (along with comments about how my dc are suffering through me working)."

No you won't.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 21:31:23

Yeah you are right Humphrey I did post that slightly tongue in cheek but it did really happen.

MidniteScribbler Wed 11-Jun-14 21:33:30

Our PTA has paid for enough iPads and laptops for every student to have access to one. They've bought several sets of instruments for the music room. Great play equipment for the playground. A kiln for the art room. A time out/safe room for children who need it. Professional standard lighting and sound equipment for our theatre.

Do you want your children to have access to all this? It involves parents actually doing something to help. No one is expecting anyone to give up their job or take it on as a full time role, but do SOMETHING. You could offer to butter breadrolls the night before a BBQ, show up on a Saturday morning with some gardening tools and clean up that overgrown corner of the playground, or sew a few art smocks of an evening. If you're at the shops and see constructions paper on sale, then buy a couple of packs and send it in to the school. Everyone has something they could do to support their children's school, and most of it doesn't have to cost money, or even too much time. I f we want our children to have those extras that enhance their schooling, then it's a team effort.

MrsCripps Wed 11-Jun-14 21:34:13

I got that all the time Hakluyt and also when DH looked after the Dc so I could WOH, I got sneering about that as well.

Waltermittythesequel Wed 11-Jun-14 21:40:48

Hakluyt I can assure you my PTA is exactly as described!

happyyonisleepyyoni Wed 11-Jun-14 22:27:55

the fewer people who take part in a PTA the harder work it is for those who do.this makes it harder to recruit newcomers, no one wants to join a sinking ship. Everyone has reasons they are too busy with work, family. nowadays there is no pool of SAHMs with time on their hands, they either have preschoolers or are back at work.

There is therefore a powerful incentive for PTAs to be inclusive and recruit new parents. If you go on the PTAUK website there is lots of discussion of this. "Cliques" in most cases are imagination not reality.

In the longer run I expect many PTAs will fold which is a shame. Once they are gone they won't come back. but if parents can't find the time then it's tough shit.

MidniteScribbler Wed 11-Jun-14 22:34:01

In the longer run I expect many PTAs will fold which is a shame. Once they are gone they won't come back. but if parents can't find the time then it's tough shit.

No, they'll expect the teachers to pick up the slack and run these events in order for their children to have all the little extras that they believe they are entitled to have.

Cruikshank Wed 11-Jun-14 22:51:30

I don't think my child is 'entitled' to have a summer/xmas fayre (ie loads of people crowded into a rammed school hall with the kids all hopped up on sugary drinks and demanding money for rubbish activities and prizes that break within minutes) and would much rather that the school asked those who can afford it to contribute £20 pa to the PTA fund a year. I've given up going to the events because I don't think they're worth spending my precious leave time on, and they're always a bit shit anyway. It just seems so backwards and parochial. Sorry.

fancyanotherfez Wed 11-Jun-14 23:34:51

In my kids school most families have two working parents, therefore most of the pta is made up of working parents, including me. Many of them see it as a way to get involved in the school if they can't be involved in the school day to day. The woman who runs the cubs works full time.
Usually over 400 adults turn up to the Summer fete, mostly from the school community but only a fraction will give half an hour to volunteer to do a stall. As others have said that is the most disheartening thing. Luckily we don't have the amount of bitchiness and sneering that has been on this thread, or it would just not be worth doing, even for the purpose of fundraising for the children.
We are asked for money for the school every year. I can just imagine how well it would go down if parents were asked to fork out another £50 a year for the pta and not even get a fete out of it!

fancyanotherfez Wed 11-Jun-14 23:38:20

Surely if everyone had to give money to the pta each year there would still be pta volunteers collecting the money and distributing it, because I can assure you, the school won't be doing it. They have enough to do. The only thing that would happen is that the whole thing would collapse and the schools wouldn't get the little extras that they do now due to PTA fundraising

FloozeyLoozey Wed 11-Jun-14 23:42:38

My son spends enough of his life at school (including after school club a few times a week). I prefer to spend my time and money actually spending time with him and investing in extra curricular activities. I pay my taxes for his education. If the optional extras didn't exist, so be it. We could all volunteer to at our local hospitals too, after all do we not all want better health care? My son is my utmost priority, not his school. If people want to volunteer and donate that's fine but don't expect everyone else to share your values. That's not how it works.

ToysRLuv Thu 12-Jun-14 01:02:15

I'm with you Floozey.

differentnameforthis Thu 12-Jun-14 02:16:51

It's fine to not get involved but please do not criticise others and what they do.

Hear hear! At my girls primary we have over 750 families. The same 20 parents do everything from canteen (it's different over here & doesn't work the way it does in the UK), uniform shop, Gov Council, fund-raising, helping in class, on excursions etc.

I don't mind doing what I do, I enjoy helping. What I don't enjoy is when the school is criticised for choosing to do x,y & z by those who never have any intention of helping to do anything that mean we can do a,b,c!

For example, we have to cut a few lines from the canteen menu recently as it was too much work for the 2 staff to do themselves. Lots of people complained & when the canteen asked for more help in the form of volunteers, so they could reinstate some of the stuff, they had.........ZERO applicants.

I run the uniform shop, with other commitments it means that I can only open for a couple of hours one morning. This has been complained about, yet no one else is prepared to do it.

It's like voting, if you aren't prepared to do it, don't moan at the status quo!

differentnameforthis Thu 12-Jun-14 03:24:36

Just ignore them, there are always a few queen bee types, volunteering for everything That's a bit rude. You do realise that if the 'queen bee' types didn't do it, no one would? Can we please stop with the Queen Bee remarks please? It sounds very insulting to me. I don't judge those who don't/can't help, yet to me, Queen Bee sounds like a judgement of my willingness to help out. Like I think I am somehow superior for doing so, and I really don't think I am! I do it because I have the time & I enjoy it. No because I want to lord it over people. I joined the Gov Council to have a say in what happens at my dc's school.

I don't judge those who don't help, everyone has their own reasons & it isn't always possible to do so. I do get pissed off at those who don't help & criticise everything we do to better the school/make it run better.

To be fair, the "neurotic" woman that is always demanding playdates, isn't like that because she is on the PTA! But good way to bash us all & make us all look "neurotic"!

IT is true, of course that a lot of mums work, I do think though that the preschooler thing is an excuse. I did volunteer with dd2 in tow. A few times she has sat drawing in the office off the canteen, or 'helped' arrange the uniforms, or played on the staff PCs during meetings.

And she wasn't the easiest of babies/toddlers/preschoolers to be fair. But I just got on with it.smile

We are not there all day! I spend an hour in the uniform shop, a couple of hours in the canteen (when I can, as I have other commitments), perhaps an hour here or there for a committee meeting, less then twice a month, a couple of hours two evenings a term for Gov council stuff (usually after hours, so 7pm start). The thing that takes up most of my time is the book club. Again, parents LOVE being able to order cut price books, but forget to see that someone has to get the catalogues to the class, submit the orders, then divvy out the books to the children. That probably takes 8 hours a term (so 4 hours, spread out over the course of two weeks, twice a term). Again, when the lady doing it stopped, the same mum (me) volunteered! Thankfully, I have one other parent to help, so it isn't a huge job. Another case though, of parents wanting the service, but not being prepared to help. They would soon complain if we had to stop doing it!

Someone said that it is the parents who raise the money & the credit goes to the PTA. Well yes, YOU do pay/send in the money, but without the organisation of the PTA, YOU wouldn't be attending anything! You paid the money, you didn't do anything to physically RAISE it. And PTA parents pay their share too.

Strinkle. My child is also well behaved. Just because I don't helpout at the school doesn't mean my D.D is badly behaved. Sorry had to say that. Strinkle didn't say that! She was trying to point that her dc get certificates/parts in the plays off their own merits, not because of her involvement in the school. She didn't say that parents who don't help out have badly behaved children at all.

It is always the same ones picked. They don't give other kids a chance to shine. after all Every child matters. That is a problem that needs addressing within your school, you can't blame it on the volunteers/PTA!

its the parents who fork out the cash who pay for the laptops etc not the PTA. As I covered above, the PTA members will be giving too. They are also parents, so they dip in their purses as much as any parent. Also, it is the PTA who get the best bargains with equipment. We managed to get a discount on the cost of some stuff, so parents didn't have to pay so much. Little things like that, which you seem happy to overlook. We have also got better deals on residential camps. We hold election BBQs to raise money for equipment for your kids (and mine, of course) to play with/on.

Some here don't see the importance of volunteers/PTA, but believe me, if we all stop going it, your kids will soon suffer with old, dated, worn equipment. No where to play, extra costs on basic things.

Who do you think would arrange the disco, the school fare, the new books, the new equipment if parents didn't help? The teachers do not have the time & resources to do it all. I think many schools would suffer greatly if they didn't have helpers.

SapphireMoon Thu 12-Jun-14 06:15:56

Good posts different name for this.
I was beginning to feel disheartened. I do volunteer stuff at school and depressing to think that some might think I'm a sad, do gooder type with too much time on my hands. I fit the volunteer stuff in. I'm not floating around being a lady that lunches [not that anyone should care if I was!].

Lagoonablue Thu 12-Jun-14 06:20:01

I avoid it. I don't have time. I attend events and buy stuff though. Each to their own.

Rideronthestorm Thu 12-Jun-14 06:27:37

I compromised by not getting involved in the committee or any organising but always volunteering to help out at functions. Worked for me.

CrohnicallyHungry Thu 12-Jun-14 06:41:29

cruikshank if you would rather not have the summer fair and would prefer to just hand over £20, then do that. Give it to the PTA and tell them you won't be able to attend the summer fair, but here's your contribution. Or you can overpay on other things like cake sales, non uniform days etc that the PTA use to raise money. Failing that, make sure you donate items for the summer fair. You don't actually have to attend to support them.

Waltermittythesequel Thu 12-Jun-14 07:36:51

To be fair, the "neurotic" woman that is always demanding playdates, isn't like that because she is on the PTA! But good way to bash us all & make us all look "neurotic"!

Yes. Because that's what I said. hmm

fedupbutfine Thu 12-Jun-14 07:50:22

Another case though, of parents wanting the service, but not being prepared to help

Actually, I don't want or need any service the PTA might offer. Please tell me, what you know about my life and what I do and don't do and how much spare time I realistically have to be able to volunteer at my children's school? Does what I do and what my life is like somehow filter into you by me standing next to you in the school playground?

For what it's worth, I am a full-time teacher and, single parent with 3 children under 10. I have huge responsibilities related to my job which take up many an evening during the week. I also care for my 80 year old mother, saving Social Care/the NHS thousands. I also fundraise continually for my local homeless charity which takes up most of my evenings, whether or not they are free. I volunteer with the Beavers one evening a week, and several weekends a year as well (and have to pay for childcare for some things related to this, despite the fact it's a voluntary activity). Other people I know have partners on shift systems or who work away regularly, who are active members of various clubs and socieities from judo to train spotting, who are active in their churches or who quietly support the local hospice. Most work full-time. All of us love our children dearly but have no desire to be involved in their PTA because we do other stuff. Despite this, we are subjected to the over-loud whisper in the school playground about how we can't be bothered and how wonderful the PTA are. No, you're not. Or at least, you're no better than we are. We all do 'stuff'. We all have responsibilities. There is no law that says we must make the PTA our first responsibility.

No, I'm not prepared to help.

AramintaDeWinter Thu 12-Jun-14 08:02:35

I helped the PTA to raise funds for the school on numerous occasions. I did this by attending and spending money at the events they put on. (and baked the odd cake)
It was great that the PTA was there, also great there were plenty of families to support their activities financially.
'They also serve who only stand and pay out dosh' I believe Churchill said smile

differentnameforthis Thu 12-Jun-14 08:09:33

fedupbutfine

If you don't want/use the service then you are exempt from what I said, are you not? And I believe that I did point out that I understood people were busy!

No one is obliged to help, but like I said before, I wish that those who don't, when they would be able to, didn't have little digs when we have to cut back on hours/stuff offered.

I am talking about the parents at my school who moaned that we had to remove 2 (daily) home-baked (school baked grin ) items from the menus because the volunteers couldn't cope with the workload, or the parent who told me that I should open the uniform everyday (I can't, I work (volunteer) two mornings a week & help in class/the library on other days) because not everyone could get there on the day it was open.

The parents who refused to help with the latest fund-raiser BBQ (an all day-er, at the weekend, as we had an sports carnival) but yet moaned that we didn't raise much as we had to close early because there was no one to staff it. Not to mention the food that went to waste because we had to close it.

Waltermittythesequel Thu 12-Jun-14 08:13:44

Well said fedup

differentnameforthis Thu 12-Jun-14 08:14:01

No, you're not. I am certainly not better than anyone who doesn't help (for whatever reason), but then again, I don't remember saying I was!

I have been on the other end though. Here (Australia) we have national volunteer week, most places do a little something to thank their volunteers. Our school did a high tea for us all in the staff room, prepared by the paid staff of the school.

A couple of parents who haven't helped at the school invited themselves, but because the staff knew they hadn't helped, they got turned away. They seriously couldn't understand why WE got something, when all the non volunteers got nothing!

It is that sense of entitlement that I don't like.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 08:45:04

"Our PTA has paid for enough iPads and laptops for every student to have access to one. They've bought several sets of instruments for the music room. Great play equipment for the playground. A kiln for the art room. A time out/safe room for children who need it. Professional standard lighting and sound equipment for our theatre. "

Ok this is controversial but...not actually that desperately, tbh. Sorry.

These are lovely things. But quite frankly, when were were a two-working-parent household, I think it was far, far more important that my kids saw us in the evenings and weekends than that they had a kiln at school, or even lovely things like laptops.

As I say, I've always volunteered, eg with Scouts, and somehow that feels different. Just better run, better at delegating, better at giving us stuff we can get on with when the kids are in bed.

It always felt like with the PTA you had to wade through a quagmire of politics and crap to get anything done, and honestly, as a working parent, that's not worth a kiln, I'm afraid.

(the time-out safe room is the exception to that-if that's not something the school can provide otherwise I'd be very happy to donate to that, and that's not something my kids would use, I don't think)

Bonsoir Thu 12-Jun-14 08:49:25

I'm a class rep and this week the teacher has asked me and another class rep to lend a hand accompanying classes to and from a local theatre for end of year rehearsals. I am more than happy to help out with that sort of unpolitical low profile but necessary job. It is what I think being an active parent should be - helping the school on the ground.

AndyWarholsOrange Thu 12-Jun-14 09:14:05

I work full time so I genuinely don't have time to do PTA stuff but, even if I did, I wouldn't.

At younger 2 DC's school, about 80% of the parents seem to be either 'in telly', artists or actors and they're all really intimidating. One parents' meeting I went to about year 6 residential, one mother stood up and loudly announced, "Sorry darlings, have to run, I'm on stage at 7.30".

They also all live in £2 million houses. DD is friendly with one of the PTA Queen bee's DS. When she came to collect him from a play date, she drove her range rover 300 yards from her house and then said, "Isn't your house tiny?!!
I managed to suppress the urge to say, "Isn't your arse HUGE?!!

allhailqueenmab Thu 12-Jun-14 09:53:38

I feel intimidated by threads like this that suggest that not helping out at the school makes my priorities all wrong and it manifests as cross - because then I have to analyse my priorities - no bad thing - and realise that they are fine, I am doing the things at the top of the list and they are the right things. But it makes me want to reply crossly at those implying that anyone who doesn't help is some sort of social leech who should be helping.

Or in other words - I am not fighting with an organisation in my life that may or may not exist - I am fighting with some of the people on this thread!

Seriously, though, who is it for?

- I believe (some of you with very well run set-ups may contest this, but my experience is) that these things are inefficient in terms of the resources they demand of parents (including or especially time or labour) relative to benefit. So while the yield may be necessary or useful, the cost benefit analysis doesn't come out - especially when viewed according to the example above where a poster said "my kids need my time more than a kiln at school" (paraphrased)

- if the volunteers don't enjoy it and are frazzled trying to get people to come to things; and people clearly don't want to come to things as it is such hard work to sell tickets for them; then given the inefficiency noted above, why bother?

- About those who turn up but don't sign up in advance to help: they probably don't want to do anything at all, and see showing up in support as a compromise. They haven't committed because if, on the day, they can't face more than showing up for an hour and buying a cake and some raffle tickets, they can do that, and not let anyone down. They don't enjoy these things you know. It's not like they have ligged their way into a ball at the Dorchester. They have wearily hauled their arses there because they feel they ought to.

- Helping out on school trips etc is different. You can’t take children places without enough adults there and I would take a day’s leave to do that, and have, because I can see how it benefits the children. It is quite different from all this sort of “fund-raising” (= parental-labour-spunking) dicking about. I suppose what I mean is: in that case I can see how my time has a direct value in a way that is irreplaceable (unless by someone else’s time). I don’t have time to be wasted on not being properly leveraged.

- Those PTA types who knee-jerk feel it would be “sad” not to do these events should ask themselves why, if you could get the same amount of money not doing them, or doing one really big one that really activates people’s generosity and may even be genuinely fun (although no one would mind if not as it would genuinely do a job) - Why would it be sad? What do you get out of it? Yes, you. Now, see who it is all about?

- I am only talking to some PTA types in the above point. Not the ones who say quite reasonably “ok throw cash our way instead if that’s how you feel about it”

differentnameforthis Thu 12-Jun-14 10:27:08

Or how about give some money at the beginning of the year and have 2 events a year and leave it at that. And who will organise these events?

The problem with the one off payment idea is at schools such as my DCs school, I very much doubt many of the parents could afford to give £50 at the beginning of term, but £3 for a disco, £1 for some cakes etc spread throughout the year is more manageable. Exactly! Not only that, but you would have parents then saying 'I paid x in January & dc haven't done anything yet, where is my money going' so it isn't the answer, not at all.

Ours is a small school, only about 120 pupils. So there isn't a big pool of willing parents to call on. It would really help if some others would step up just once in a while. As I said, we have over 750 families at out school. We still have the issue of no one wanting to step up.

The gov council at our school (same as PTA in UK) has become a social group, in that we do meet & get together to sort stuff out. I know the mums quite well & that isn't because we have become 'exclusive' it is because we are the ones doing it all! You seriously cannot moan about us socialising together when we do so to be able to plan what needs doing. Anyone would be more than welcome to join in & help out, we would love that! You could socialise with us too.

Sigyn this won't be popular, but some don't do it simply because they have the ''let someone else do it'' & "I can't be bothered" mindset. Sad, but true. As witnessed here Life is too short for all that rubbish.

but it's hard enough juggling Childcare where I work full time let alone being expected to volunteer too! You aren't expected to volunteer at all.

well bully for you, well done, but I just can't do any more and I really don't like the snippy tone from some on this thread. And your well bully for you, well done comment isn't at all snippy, is it?

chocoluvva Thu 12-Jun-14 10:27:08

I couldn't manage to feel guilty about not spending much time and money on fundraising for trips, events or unnecessary equipment for the school. I just didn't consider it a good use of my time. That's not because I'm lazy - I host a coffee morning in my home every year as part of the MacMillan coffee morning fundraiser every September. And I support my friends with their fund-raisers by going to craft fairs, donating baking etc. (I enjoy baking)
I'm very happy for the school to go without ipads and expensive playground equipment. They're fine without it.

If others enjoy putting on fayres etc that's lovely, especially if the school is poorly equipped, but parents shouldn't be pressurised to spend their time helping the school. IMO

moolady1977 Thu 12-Jun-14 10:31:43

i said never to being on the pta but got dragged to a meeting one day and enjoyed it so stayed and thats when it turned sour ,, anything that needed to be done or was asked about being the same mum always volunteered nobody else got a look in and it got to the point nbody could do anything because this mum took over and then moaned she was the only one doing anything until a certain mum (ok it was me id had enough) turned round and said nobody else is doing anything because we dont get a look in you shoot your hand up or open your mouth before the question of help is even finished,,, and thats where my stint ended as i walked out and left them to it

allhailqueenmab Thu 12-Jun-14 10:33:47

Differentnameforthis
"'I paid x in January & dc haven't done anything yet, where is my money going" - this is a reasonable question, no matter how the money is raised. Not "it should all go to my kids" but transparent accounts and collectively agreed priorities

"The gov council at our school (same as PTA in UK)" - are you sure? A lot of the things you have talked about on this thread, in terms of volunteering, are nothing like the flim flam I am questioning. The pupils' canteen for instance - that serves a definite purpose - but is far outside the remit of the PTA in the UK. I am not sure your posts are relevant to people complaining about feeling wrong footed by PTA busy-work.

Chocluvva

"I'm very happy for the school to go without ipads and expensive playground equipment. They're fine without it."

this is a completely legitimate position

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 10:38:26

" Sigyn this won't be popular, but some don't do it simply because they have the ''let someone else do it'' & "I can't be bothered" mindset. Sad, but true. As witnessed here Life is too short for all that rubbish."

But that isn't quite what people on here are saying

No one is saying "I want a PTA but can't be arsed to do anything for it.".

It seems to me that those who are saying the PTA is a PITA are actually saying that they think there are better ways to do things. And my experience at least is that that can work fine.

Or another way to look at it. They are not actually that bothered by the things the PTA is fundraising for. Like me above. I prioritise time with my kids over the art room having a kiln. I'm far from lazy-I work full time, volunteer and study-but raising money for a kiln is just not on my list of priorities.

It is NOT that I expect someone else to do it for me. Its that I don't want a kiln, or a sensory shrubbery, or even ipads for all, enough to take the limited amount of time I have away from my family in order to attend meetings.

NigellasDealer Thu 12-Jun-14 10:41:26

oh god the PTA types were ghastly at my kids' primary - the kind that would volunteer to make and serve tea at parents evening and then only serve it to their friends.
ime they were just sad people with little else going on in their lives

commonorgarden Thu 12-Jun-14 10:43:19

I think it's important to be involved in some way and there are plenty of ways to get involved without doing it through PTAs. Our PTA is cliquey and political and I can't be doing with all that. Also, the kind of event organisation that they mostly do is not my forte at all. I'll bake cakes and hand them in but I'd be rubbish at setting up the stall to sell them. They earn a heap of money for the school but it's not my thing at all.

So I go in and hear the children read for an afternoon a week instead. I expect that not one of the PTA thinks I do anything though because I'm not a 'high profile' parent in that way!

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 10:43:24

Separately to all of this, I am a volunteer for other things, I'm a serial volunteerer and I always get involved as long as that translates into doing something, not joining a talking shop/middle class mum matchmaking service. I WOULD absolutely join the PTA if I thought it would get stuff done. I didn't because, frankly, I have enough nice friends.

All this by way of saying, I know how frustrating it is when no one else steps up and get involved. But I think there's a lot of stuff out there around barriers to volunteering and I've certainly attended some great training/conferences with talks/discussions on why some people don't step up. It really might be worth looking further into why people aren't getting involved.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 10:45:31

And oh yes I did the reading!

I really, really enjoyed doing that, I think I did it well, and honestly, over the years I did it, I truly think I made more of a difference to the kids than if I'd organised a crap bake sale and raised £50 toward a slide.

scarletforya Thu 12-Jun-14 10:57:51

Yanbu.

My Dd is only 2 but I'm going to stay the hell away from those scary bitches. Everything I've read on MN confirms my suspicions that they are terrifying uber mummies who eat the faint hearted for breakfast!

I'm going to stay under the radar as much as possible!

Stinkle Thu 12-Jun-14 11:05:48

No one is saying "I want a PTA but can't be arsed to do anything for it."

Maybe not on here, but there is definitely that attitude from a small minority at my child's school.

We don't have an actual PTA as such, there's a committee, but someone had to put their name on the official paperwork. We send out letters at the beginning of the school year asking for help and fund raising suggestions of what people would like to see throughout the school year. We get lots of feedback and mostly people are willing to muck in and run a stall for half an hour. Teachers and staff run stalls, chaperone discos, etc as well.

It's the constant bitching and complaining from a hardcore of parents that gets my goat.

We suggested not doing any events one year and asking for people who could to make a small donation - huge moaning that the kids would miss out on the fairs/cinema night/whatever. So we went back to organising the events - cue huge moaning.

You can't win.

We don't fundraise to buy stuff like iPads and kilns - we've just kitted out and equipped an empty room as a kitchen so the kids can do baking in school, we massively subsidise school trips and organise treats for all the children - run pancake races, Easter eggs hunts, Father Christmas gives out small presents at Christmas, ice lollies at Sports day, Year books for year 6 leavers, on the last day of term we're hiring coaches to take the whole school to the beach, we'll play games, buy icecreams

I'm not a queen bee, we're not a clique, none of us are awful with nothing going on in our lives. We just have a bit of spare time and happy to help where we can. If people can't/don't want to help, that's fine, whatever

JassyRadlett Thu 12-Jun-14 11:29:51

Sigyn makes an excellent point. Rather than ascribing reasons and bitching about lack of volunteers and calling people lazy (as some have done on this thread), why not get some better information on why people aren't volunteering? Try different ways of getting people involved?

Some of the PTAs on here sound great, and some sound lazy and in a rut - if you can't do things our way, in our established ways or working, then you can't participate, but we will judge you for that.

There are some truly blinkered people on here about how absolutely offputting it can be to try to break into what us very clearly a group of friends who socialise together, regardless of how that has come about, and some real naïveté about how those groups come across to outsiders (and even how they come across when described by a group member on MN!)

Worth noting I have no horse in this race. No kid at school, serial volunteer elsewhere?

NigellasDealer Thu 12-Jun-14 11:34:05

we're not a clique, none of us are awful
you just keep telling yourself that.
There are genuine reasons why your average parent runs a mile from that dreadful coven that is the PTA/HPA

BreconBeBuggered Thu 12-Jun-14 11:39:56

I don't think it's helpful to take an example from one particular school and extrapolate from it that PTA fundraising is futile/vital/a nightmare encounter with Queen Bees and self-righteous harridans. At our school, PTA money helps finance expensive coach hire so that the pupils on our low-income estate have the chance to go on the same kind of school trips as those a couple of leafier miles up the road, whose parents might think something like a kiln would be a better purchase. I'd be surprised if more that 5% of our parents could manage to fork out a lump sum in lieu of infrequent, optional PTA activities.

As for efficiency, it's true that some events are more effective in terms of raising cash than others, but you can't do the same things all the time. I'm completely with you on the cakes, mind. I'm happy to buy other people's efforts, but no way am I arsing around wth baking when the money raised barely covers the cost of the butter and eggs.

I've never had any axe to grind about people who don't volunteer for the PTA, whether they can't or simply don't want to. It's the ones who carp loudly on the sidelines without adding anything useful who can fuck off.

BeeBlanket Thu 12-Jun-14 11:40:51

I am grateful to the people who do the PTA stuff, and I don't complain about them, but I don't do it and I have little truck with anyone who gets sneery or huffy with people who don't. Yes, maybe it's "tiresome" that it's always the same people who do it, but I'd guess that's because they are the people who like/are good at that sort of thing and have the time. Or, in some cases, being a bit less charitable, because they are pushy, bossy, queen bee (or king bee, I know some) types who like the idea of being in charge and cosying up to the staff. (But I realise they are not all like that.)

Anyone who gets shitty with those who do not do it should realise that some people really are too busy working, looking after preschoolers, caring in other capacities etc - or are too shy and intimidated to get involved. Those people probably far outnumber the "lazy" ones.

Or they are like me and know they would be useless. I am crap in committee situations, I hate longwinded discussions and group politics. I am an efficient, autocratic "doer" who likes to just get stuff done. On my own. In meetings I would get impatient and probably cause offence, and I always find I disagree with what 90% of other people think so that's a non-starter right there.

OTOH, there are other ways. I do help the school when there are specific skills needed, and I make donations that I have a supply of through my business (not wanting to out myself). I don't do this publicly but the HT knows and it means she recognises me.

I will sound Machiavellian saying this but I think there is good reason to be "in" with your child's school. It does do you some favours, even though it shouldn't really, and with a child with SN it's helpful for me to be able to get the HT's ear when necessary (though I don't abuse that).

But, you don't have to do it by being a PTA queen bee. To anyone whose DC are first starting school I would say, unless that committee/organising stuff comes naturally, just take it slowly and keep a low profile, and find ways to be helpful that you can manage. And if you can't manage, that is fine.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 11:51:33

One thing I find kind of interesting from those who are PTA types and are bemoaning the lack of involvement, is that generally they are not mentioning or noting that parents do other things, that another parent might be going in two afternoons to read with the kids or another parent might have made a donation in kind

I do feel there's a sense that the only true way to volunteer for the school is via the PTA and I think that's unfortunate. As I said above, I think reading with the kids is streets ahead far more important than a shiny new slide, or even cookery lessons.

I also think if you are struggling to recruit to the PTA but have other people volunteering in the school in other capacities, or volunteering with Scouts or Guides or what have you-well you really do need to think on what's going on there.

Not directed at anyone specific, btw, just thoughts on reading.

allhailqueenmab Thu 12-Jun-14 11:53:19

While I'm at it:

Do those who are tired of " the same faces" always helping think that the fathers should all be helping too?

I know this is just my school but honestly the communication is bloody awful and off-putting. Their summer thingy is coming up and we have been asked, in advance, in principle, to donate certain things - we were asked to tick boxes on a sheet offering help or donations. I did so (for certain donations). The event is now about 2 weeks away.
One specific thing (I only now realise) that all families are asked to donate is to be handed in ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE AND NO SOONER. Ok I get that. Now we are being hounded that few donations have been sent in. Oh, so we have been supposed to trickling in the other stuff for weeks? Where? How? When your child is just 5 you need to be told, you can't expect them to find out really.

Also - "raffle prizes". What is a suitable raffle prize? Will there be 20 prizes and something quite modest but reasonably nice will do, or are there 3 prizes and it should be something pretty good?

"something for the french stall." can it be second hand? Or is that tragic and will cause us to be sneered at?

All the people above who were so snotty about me not knowing anything - honestly it is a minefield when you don't get to the school much and nobody tells you in writing quite the full story on anything.

I work in a job with terrible internal communication problems. It is a constant stress finding out the things I need to do my job while tone-policing so that my inevitable impatience with our terrible systems doesn't show (they are terrible, this company is renowned in the industry for it). I know how to manage this shite, constantly gently charmingly prodding for information that has NOT been revealed in the communications to date even though someone THINKS it has, managing to be assertive but always pleasant while never appearing to blame anyone else, despite the fact that people are on the verge of getting snippy with you for not knowing, when believe it or not, it is not your fault - I know how to do all this, but I do it 12 hours a day to earn a living and after work, you know what, fuck that noise.

allhailqueenmab Thu 12-Jun-14 12:05:50

Sigyn - interesting post.

I think part of what is going on here is that organisers tend to have extrovert personalities (in the myers briggs sense) and are very comfortable with the social aspects of what they are doing (not that they are necessarily good at them! But comfortable with that stuff).

Other potential volunteers might have other skills but not the social comfort. The organisers need to accept this and do that stuff for them – make things easy for people who aren’t brimming with social confidence to take part – and accept that information sharing and clarity without too much effort on the part of the others is a huge part of this. This is not unfair – this isn’t some sort of outrageous spoon-feeding – this is how to get a range of skills, or all you get is bustly organisey social people who like being visible and you leave out the craftspeople or accountants or musicians or linguists or whatever who get a bit blushy putting themselves forward and dealing with confused social situations.

It is easy to huff and say “or you could just ask!” – but that is the hardest thing in the world for some people. Going up to someone – who might not even be the right person if you have made a mistake - who is with a group of people –and introducing yourself – and asking –and maybe getting a slightly off response – and then feeling like an idiot – ARGH it is terrible.

And if you don’t even know who to ask then where do you begin?

People who want to recruit volunteers should put out in writing information about

-Who the organiser is, and an email address and phone number, and times and places they can be found if poss
-What actual tasks are required
-What the objectives are
-How little or how much a volunteer can commit to, and especially if there are things that can be done on your own time like backing books or making things or stuffing envelopes, and if so, exactly how to communicate with a relevant named person about organising this
-If donations are required, what sort of ballpark value and when and where they can be sent
-If they are to be left in a part of the school not the child’s classroom, the child should be allowed to take them there before or after registration, or the teacher should collect them on their behalf – our school expects parents to drop things without the children, this is not something I feel it is fair to add the CM’s day as she has 3 different drop offs in the morning

There is a lot more stuff like this but surely this helps some of the (deliberate?) non-understanders get the gist

BeeBlanket Thu 12-Jun-14 12:28:47

That's so true queen mab. Same in our school. The PTA is a social thing that you have to be quite brave to approach (if you are not naturally the life and soul of the party) and what they don't understand is that all their pushy communications about how you should join in and it's so much fun, actually put introverts off.

I guess the same is true in a lot of organisations and group situations. A lot of skills are wasted because people with useful skills don't always have the confidence and social cut-and-thrust needed to deliver them.

Also agree about the men/dads thing. Oh yes, put pressure on me to get involved, after all the fact that I work rather than devoting my life 24/7 to my kids' education, as a mum, means I'm basically a failure. hmm Dads get let off because they are supposed to work, aren't they, so who can expect the poor diddums to do more on top?

OK no one has said this to me in so many words but it is the vibe that our largely SAHM-run PTA gives out. It's definitely offputting.

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 12:45:20

I think it is kind of sad that so many people are berating PTAs as some huge homogenous mass that is cliquey and bossy. It makes me think of "heathers."

I am quite shy and definitely not bossy. I am also the chair of our PTA. It was a fait accompli really - the previous chair was. Leaving the school and nobody else wanted to do it. It would have meant teachers stepping in to organise all the fundraising events. Being the pathetic people pleaser that I am I felt compelled to volunteer blush.

I am grovellingly grateful for any help. The rest of the committee are definitely not my cronies - I didn't even know them before joining and we come from different year groups. I have to give a talk to new parents next week and I am bricking it. I have to deal with certain politics, governance stuff (which I am crap at) and recruitment of senior staff. I don't love any of the above. It is important though. We are a community and I am part of that so feel I need to contribute. I also have a preschooler and am studying, but the school are brilliant about letting him tag along.

It has been hugely rewarding and I feel privileged to be part of the school community and impacting on my ds education - in however small a way. I actually initially joined the PTA as ds1 is dyspraxic and anxious and I wanted him to see me coming in and out of school so that he felt the boundaries between home and school were less severe (I also help in the library).

Anyway, I just wanted to show that we aren't all evil bitches - I would be absolutely mortified if anyone in the playground was intimidated by me or thought I was a queen bee. Is our PTA really that unusual (it was similarly inclusive when I joined the school...)

redskyatnight Thu 12-Jun-14 12:48:43

allhailqueenmab Our PTA does all that. It has a noticeboard with photos on (so you have a better chance of recognising the right person), plus a pigeon hole in school (next the school ones, so no chance of not knowing where it is), plus an email (which is on the school website, and included on the half-termly newsletter, plus a facebook page (communicated likewise).

It also lists out precise things that require help, split out into small sized tasks, including behind the scenes things and things you can do at home in (literally) a spare 10 minutes.

It's made a concious effort to do all these things, because parents complained (like you have) that maybe they would help more if they understood what to do and who to talk to.

.. and it's still all the same old people that help out every time.

The PTA are all working parents (might be one SAHM) with a mixture of dads and mums. We are not cliquey (most of us don't talk to each other outside of PTA events) and most of us are shy and would love to stick to he behind the scenes organising.

I appreciate that this is not everyone's PTA - but I think it does show that some people just aren't going to help no matter how easy you make it for them.

allhailqueenmab Thu 12-Jun-14 12:53:58

redsky. where is the noticeboard? is everything on the noticeboard also on the website?

JassyRadlett Thu 12-Jun-14 12:59:45

Partridge, I think the issue on this thread has been the negative experiences of some posters have been dismissed by those with positive experiences

I really haven't seen PTAs in general being berated too much, simply people sharing both positive and negative experiences - and some took the negative experiences/perceptions as an attack. I won't go down the rabbit hole of those posters who have only talked about the 'mums' who don't join the PTA, though that to me signals a potential significant problem with the approach and expectations of that PTA.

From my own view of having run volunteer groups, if an organisation is finding it hard to recruit volunteers, blaming the volunteer pool is very easy but it's a trap. What is the organisation doing to change the way it looks to the outside world? Does the perception of the PTA from the inside (we are lovely and welcoming) match the outside (they are all mates and all socialise together so I feel an outsider)? Is the PTA willing to change it's ways of working to accommodate those who work full time? What is your volunteer recruitment strategy? How can it be improved?

It's clear from this thread that there are some amazing, thriving PTAs and some that are struggling to stay afloat due to lack of volunteers. I suspect quality of the volunteer pool is sometimes not the only factor.

sugarhoops Thu 12-Jun-14 13:09:58

I help out in school, but without going into my kids classroom - I'm a firm believer that the classroom is their environment to learn away from home & away from the opinions & influences of mum & dad.

I bake cakes for the school cake sales, man stalls at the summer fair, sell glo-sticks at the school discos.

I have to confess that i'm not, however, a huge fan of parent helpers going into their own child's classroom to help out on a weekly basis - sadly at our school, this always involves the same mums (stay at homes, they seem to have the most spare time to do this) and they do adopt a semi-official persona, saying hi to teachers on first name terms, telling me stuff about my kids in class that I would rather hear from a teacher, coming into the playground with their parent-helper badges swinging round their necks, and then feigning forgetfulness about dropping it back at reception.

However my biggest bug-bear is them assuming that they should get first dibs on all school trips because "we are the ones who help out in classroom every single week so its only right that we should do the fun stuff too".

Arghhh - touched a raw nerve, it drives me mad!

sugarhoops Thu 12-Jun-14 13:12:54

ps I would like to caveat that i'm not saying all mum parent helpers are like this, just those in my very limited experience

BreconBeBuggered Thu 12-Jun-14 13:15:13

They think school trips are fun for the adults? And so do you? You must have better places to go to than we do.

higgle Thu 12-Jun-14 13:18:10

Ghastly, ghastly, ghastly, I always sent money if they asked for it but
there was no way on earth I was ever going to get involved with cakes, quizzes car boot sales and all the other more effort than they raise activities. For those that really can't face the tedium of this crap perhaps they could just pay £10 pm not to be bothered.

sugarhoops Thu 12-Jun-14 13:20:56

Well brecon, thats what the regular helper mums tell us 'non helping' mums in the playground.

To be honest, when the adult to child ration is 1 to 4, I can't really see what it so sodding difficult or unpleasant about a school trip (for parent helpers anyway, I can understand its more stressful for teachers)! I have 3 kids myself and I cope doing day trips completely alone, I can't see how having 4 primary kids, all of the same age, is that difficult.

I think you're fine not being involved if you don't want to, I'm not, but then no-one in my DD's year's parents are involved either, it seems to be run by year 4 parent group. I go along to the quizzes too. I do, however, volunteer to go on school trips which is always appreciated and means that I get to know DD's teacher and friends. I think when your DSs are in reception you can take your time a bit before committing to anything.

as pp's have said, I find this whole calling teachers/heads by their first names a bit tricky. What's the etiquette here?

andsmile Thu 12-Jun-14 13:22:16

YANBU to not get involved. I used to teach and I made a decision specifically not to get involved with anything like that at the school as I'd had enough of politics.

I have sent things in when requested. I have offered one or two extra things for events that have been accepted. But I do not go to meetings, or get involved hands on. It does seem as if it is dominated by a 'few' but they dont seem that bad really as people.

I have a toddler and a DH who works long hours so it is hard for me to commit my time to anything including stuff for myself.

I think it is mean spirited of those people to hold everyone else up to their standards and choices when they dont know everyone elses circumstances - personal and domestic.

Oh and I really enjoy the school trips too! The children are great fun.

sugarhoops Thu 12-Jun-14 13:23:13

sarf - some teachers at our school do tell parents to call them by their first name. So does my GP to that point, but I still feel wierdly uncomfortable about it - too informal? I don't know, still the school girl stuck in me grin

Gawd sugar me too - too much school trauma in my past!

SapphireMoon Thu 12-Jun-14 13:33:13

In front of the children I think it has to be Miss Smith etc.
What about at the pub if you bump into them?! [Minus children].

Canshopwillshop Thu 12-Jun-14 13:35:58

Of course it's a choice whether or not you get involved but just don't be surprised or disappointed if certain things don't get done or get cancelled due to lack of parental help. I recently volunteered to help out with swimming lessons at my DS's school. It was clear from the letter we received that if no one volunteered to help, the lessons would not happen. I was the only parent in the year group to volunteer initially! Luckily, after a second plea went out, a few more volunteers stepped up (again, the usual faces).

I bet if the school had had to cancel the swimming lessons, the other parents would have been in uproar, and there would have been a lot of disappointed children.

I would then probably still say 'Miss _ ' and then if they said 'oh call me Mabel' then I would. I probably wouldn't stay and get bladdered with them though!

sugarhoops Thu 12-Jun-14 13:41:08

sapphire in the pub it would still be 'Miss Smith' I think!!

Canshop - no I don't think there would be uproar at our school - if its made clear that something can only happen if enough parent helpers, then no reasonable parent will be 'in uproar' if there aren't enough and activity is cancelled. Its usually extra curricular stuff anyway - my sons friday afternoon baking was cancelled in the end due to lack of parent helpers. We knew the score, we couldn't get cross due to lack of parents wanting to help.

Its always the same people that help out because, generally, they're the parents who don't work / can arrange their schedules to help. The rest of us work and so just can't commit to regular weekly sessions. Simple as that!

redskyatnight Thu 12-Jun-14 13:43:58

queenmab the noticeboard is immediately in front of you as you walk into the school. You will have to walk past it if you go to the school office, school hall, attend a parents evening, any school event or pick your DC up from after school activities or the after school club. You would have to try extremely hard to never walk past it.

The info is also on the school website, and pertinent bits on the PTA newsletter (which comes out once a half-term and is both emailed directly to parents and sent round in paper copy). We have tried to make ourselves accessible!

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 12-Jun-14 13:54:04

I've been both sides of this fence as a primary teacher and as a parent of (a lot) of kids! Must admit as a teacher it was the culture to dislike parent governors/PTA types. As a parent, I never got dragged in. In fact, I didn't do any chit chat at school gates - ever. In the olden days I wore a Walkman (iPod now!) so I didn't engage with other parents. It's just a load of petty crap. Schools should be adequately funded by LEAs/government. Every pound a PTA raises, gets the people who should be paying off the hook.

One of my worst moments, in my time teaching was when the PTA did a stupid money raising fete thing after school and at that place, it was expected all the teachers turned up. Now we weren't on overtime. We were put on stalls - and then had parents whinging, in my case that I made the orange squash too strong... Go swivel. I spent 4 years at uni so I could do this job, and then have to give up hours of my own free time unpaid, essentially so the Head and PTA can wank about raising five bob to build or do yet some other unnecessary crap? (Same school I had to buy pencils for my entire class and chalk to even write on the blackboard, so the PTA raising money for crap were pretty redundant in those circs with that LEA).

So yes. As a parent too, I never got involved. I have friends who have - one who goes into school to listen to kids read, helps out every school production, etc etc - she had an only child and I thought she was naive, really. Now her kid is in secondary school she realises I was right. What a waste of time that was!

I love it when my kids hit secondary school. No more boring class assemblies, no blackmail to help out with this, or do that...

I did volunteer for a whole year to run a crafts group and found it a thankless task. The following year I was mysteriously 'indisposed'.

It is all wank, truly. Once your kids are 11, OP, you will realise you were being reasonable and did the right thing.

redskyatnight People probably assume that other people are getting involved so they don't have to. Maybe just invite everyone to the pub on the first Thursday of each month for some fundraising fun - rather than making it sound like a chore. You could invite a few key parents and get them to bring their friends... I would get more involved if it was out of work time, and more likely to be fun.

Canshopwillshop Thu 12-Jun-14 13:56:43

Sugar hoops - I appreciate that there are people who work/have young ones and can't fit in helping but I refuse to believe that in DS's school, I was the only parent in the whole year group who actually could commit to helping. I am also damn sure that there would be quite a few of those parents who would certainly moan if swimming was cancelled, however unreasonable that may seem. A parent questionnaire flagged up how important swimming lessons were to parents and how much they wanted them to continue but when push came to shove, no one wanted to commit to helping.

PandaPicnic Thu 12-Jun-14 13:57:22

i prefer not to get involved really as round our way the ones involved are the most gosspiy back stabbing people in the playground!!!

they all bitch about each other

and moan they do everything

and go on and on and on about how much they do

um so not the typs i like to hang out with

rather go out for lunch with a good friend
and donate money to the school

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 13:59:56

I see what you mean Jassy, and I have seen the nastier side of "queen bee" alpha types at a playgroup I used to go to. However there is quite a lot of nastiness on this thread too - dismissing all fundraising activities as crap (I'd rather give a tenner) - join in and do something better then... It can honestly be truly thankless and whilst I don't want accolades it would be nice if people were a bit more supportive.

PTAs can have an important function too. Our Victorian primary school is falling down - we have danger signs erected by the council everywhere. One of the dads on the PTA attends a working group for PTAs and has highlighted this so that a facilities manager from the council has been to survey the building. We also had a long gap without a lollipop person and thanks to a campaign to lobby the council run by the PTA we managed to get a temporary road traffic officer for our dangerous, inner city school crossing.

redskyatnight Thu 12-Jun-14 14:00:17

SarfElasticated good suggestion, but actually we get fewer people at pub trips than normal meetings! (maybe people are put off by "having" to be sociable). And everyone on the PTA has already recruited(or tried to!) all their friends!

We also do a tea and biscuits type social thing for new parents, I think 2 turned up last year.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 14:00:44

"Every pound a PTA raises, gets the people who should be paying off the hook."

Absolutely this

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 12-Jun-14 14:01:25

TBH if I'd walked into a pub when I was teaching and spotted a parent - I'd have walked right out.

Most of my colleagues would, too. Unless you live in the same village and can't avoid em but even then I guess you'd just go drinking somewhere else. Friend of mine was head of geography at a very, very posh school. She is the friend I spent the most time holding back her hair while she vomited/got alcohol poisoning, when we used to go out. ;o) There's no way you could be yourself with a load of parents hanging round. Must admit I'd never have let them call me by first name. (Although I once worked in a school where the kids were allowed to call us by first name and that was great!)

But no. If I walked in a pub and saw parents - I'd leg it.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 14:03:41

"PTAs can have an important function too. Our Victorian primary school is falling down - we have danger signs erected by the council everywhere. One of the dads on the PTA attends a working group for PTAs and has highlighted this so that a facilities manager from the council has been to survey the building. We also had a long gap without a lollipop person and thanks to a campaign to lobby the council run by the PTA we managed to get a temporary road traffic officer for our dangerous, inner city school crossing."

I actually think that its pretty bloody shocking that kid safety is being left up to the PTA.

If that were the case in my school I would be going to my MP, etc, and kicking up a fuss.

I'd be going to the head, and the council, and anyone with a pulse.

I wouldn't be waiting for the PTA, I'm afraid.

redskyatnight I actually prefer your version of my name - sounds more comfortable.

Your parents don't go to a pub night? <gasp> We must all be alcoholics in my neck of the woods grin

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 14:06:26

It is. Sadly the reality in a cash strapped inner city area though...

These things might have been resolved over time, but the passive emails we were getting from the council were taking far too long. Absolutely not the HT's fault. Parent power was more effective in this instance.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 14:07:05

Pub night, another brilliant invention of the PTA in my kids' last school, where a majority of the kids were from muslim families.....

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 14:08:10

And actually sygn, that is exactly what happens. The parents, coordinated by the PTA went to local counsellors and the council and mobilised action. So the PTA were just coordinating - I don't really get your point?

bishboschone Thu 12-Jun-14 14:09:11

I have never helped with anything , I either have commitments with my parents or my son with sn. I don't feel bad . To be honest I would be happy to join in if it were possible but refuse to be bossed around by the joiners . Some people love it some don't . Don't feel
Obliged ..

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 14:12:33

"I have to confess that i'm not, however, a huge fan of parent helpers going into their own child's classroom to help out on a weekly basis - sadly at our school, this always involves the same mums (stay at homes, they seem to have the most spare time to do this) and they do adopt a semi-official persona, saying hi to teachers on first name terms, telling me stuff about my kids in class that I would rather hear from a teacher, coming into the playground with their parent-helper badges swinging round their necks, and then feigning forgetfulness about dropping it back at reception. "

sugarhoops that is bad. I've volunteered at my kids schools as a reading helper, but they had a strict policy of not letting parents in their kids classrooms, which was tricky for me at one point with 3 kids. I think if it got back to the head that there was gossip they would be out of there fast too. I would never speak to a teacher on first name terms in front of my kids (except in one case where the kids called them by their first names). That is very unprofessional. FWIW I did it when I was also transitioning back up to full time when my youngest hit school age, and it really was just a way to give a bit back. In my kids' school there was a big divide, loads of kids who came from families where parents might not have been able to help with reading at home, either because they worked crazy hours or because they were not fluent English speakers (then this weird PTA-hive) so it felt like a way to help where it was needed.

redskyatnight Thu 12-Jun-14 14:13:54

Sorry re name Sarf blush

I don't think it's the alcohol that's the problem, more the having to socialise with other parents (any social events that are organised are very poorly attended). Plus lots of families have one parent who works in the evenings, so the one that doesn't work has to stay at home and look after the DC. I wouldn't get a babysitter to go to a PTA event either.

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 14:16:03

My point is partridge that I'm not clear that the PTA is needed for action to occur in that situation.

If I were a parent in that school, the lack of a PTA would not stop me rallying around other parents to do something. I don't think it shows a need for a PTA.

I think generally if parents can see that there is a need for involvement, they do get involved. I think that's a very different situation to "organise an overpriced squash stall so we can raise money for a slide.".

redskyatnight that's tricky then - all my 'creativity' exhausted. Hopefully someone will come along with some ideas.

dilys4trevor Thu 12-Jun-14 14:22:33

People who work long hours in stressful jobs simply don't have the time. I'm on Mat Leave in a few months and if I have time I'd love to help out but when I am back at work, working all hours with huge stress, forget it.

Good on the ones who have time to help, I'd love to do it. But if people are pointedly saying 'it's always the same ones' to make others feel bad then YANBU. They have no idea what is going on in other people's lives.

I get the same pressure from church and it winds me up. A church mum said to me the other day 'yes, I think Father X knows who are the committed parents and who are just turning up every Sunday.' Yes love, you work part time in a shop, of course you have time to help out. Maybe you can do a week in my office (60 hours sometimes, plus weekend evening work after the kids are in bed) and then tell me you are really up for doing the flowers and joining committees!

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 14:26:01

Well for a start I (as the chair and with the consent of the parents in line with the data protection act) have everyone's emails and so was able to coordinate this in a way that nobody else could (the HT doesn't have the same remit and even if she did, why not take some of the load off her?). It couldn't have been achieved by talking to people in the playground.

It seems to be cutting your nose to spite your face to suggest that this shouldn't be a PTA coordinated activity. There was no coercion or queen-bee-ness involved. It was simply imparting information which people could chose to be part of or not confused.

allhailqueenmab Thu 12-Jun-14 14:36:51

redsky

"queenmab the noticeboard is immediately in front of you as you walk into the school. You will have to walk past it if you go to the school office, school hall, attend a parents evening, any school event or pick your DC up from after school activities or the after school club. You would have to try extremely hard to never walk past it. "

I don't do the school run.
I go there once a term if that.
This is the bit that people like you just don't grasp! No matter how many times you are told you just don't get that "mums" (always mothers) don't all have schedules that allow them to pop in and out of school in school hours!

And you say bits of the stuff are on the website - I promise you, judging by your skill at reading my posts, important bits are missing to those who don't get a chance to check in person. I promise you.

And the swimming lessons thing - really? What time were the swimming lessons? School hours? Is it surprising that most people have other commitments then - work or smaller children or just other commitments? Do you think that the majority of people with school age children go to the school every morning, wave them off, go and dutifully read the notice board, and then go home to put their feet up?

Or do they? wtf am I doing wrong?

BreconBeBuggered Thu 12-Jun-14 14:38:14

'Must admit as a teacher it was the culture to dislike parent governors/PTA types.'
That's a bit rough, isn't it, Joffrey? I'll hold my hands up to falling victim to the PTA guilt-trip all by myself, but I was nagged by staff for weeks to put myself forward as a parent governor. Possibly to try to prevent the election of someone even less congenial than me, who knows?

Lioninthesun Thu 12-Jun-14 14:45:28

I have a friend who is too scared to do PTA as the Queen Bees at her son's school are so rude and intimidating. The QB's love posting on FB about all of their hard work and making every fete etc into a huge drain for them to get kudos posts, but it really puts off people who may have considered helping out as they make it a spiky subject. It should be about the school, not a competition for the parents!
If they are already being pushy OP I'd steer clear. Maybe bake at home instead so you have something to bring in so that you can 'do your bit'?

Canshopwillshop Thu 12-Jun-14 15:12:36

Allhail - we could have an argument about who is busier than who but I'm a bit busy right now. Think I've made it clear that I was not expecting the majority of parents to step up to help as I do realise that they are fully committed elsewhere. I am targeting those who clearly do have a bit of spare time but can't be arsed!!

roundandround51 Thu 12-Jun-14 16:50:10

Its always the same mothers at our school but that's generally because
- They are SAHM's and have the time to contribute
- Through being at the school at drop offs and pick ups they meet the parents and get friendly whereas working mums just don't have that familiarity

Has anyone read Gill Hornbys The Hive - I think its very typical

PS - I just bought a (v. nice) cake for tomorrows cake sale. Its too nice to bash a bit and make out its my own, just hoping that's ok

SapphireMoon Thu 12-Jun-14 17:05:05

The Hive is based at a ridiculously middle class school.
Not at all like my children's school or what I cans see of PTA!
Silly book though quite readable...

roundandround51 Thu 12-Jun-14 17:08:34

Sapphire Funny I thought the personalities resonated, then again my DC's are at a typically middle class school

ChocolateWombat Thu 12-Jun-14 17:09:19

It's amazing how easily people seem to take offence.
There are those who are offended that few people help out and there are those who are offended that others are getting on and organising something.

Can't we just agree that the work of the PTA raises useful money and our children get a benefit from the stuff the money raises.
I cannot believe the level of dislike that comes across on this thread for those volunteering on PTAs. Haven't you people got other more serious things to dislike and be offended by? And clearly, some PTA people get over involved and see the lack of support as a personal attack, which Im sure it's not in the main.

People are in different positions and have different feelings about helping out. We all need to recognise that. If we don't want to due to lack of time or inclination, that is fine. Isn't it still worth recognsing the useful achievements of the PTA. Isnt it totally mean spirited not to??

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 17:57:17

"It seems to be cutting your nose to spite your face to suggest that this shouldn't be a PTA coordinated activity."

Ah you misunderstand me partridge

I simply disagree that the PTA was necessary in that situation. I think in that situation the parents would have rallied round, regardless of any previous PTA involvement.

I think if you have a genuinely inclusive PTA then yeah, fine, let them co ordinate it. IF you have a genuinely inclusive PTA.

Lioninthesun Thu 12-Jun-14 18:05:28

Wombat I think it depends how many times all of the parents and teachers are expected to grovel in thanks for each event... I think it's the martyrdom that makes it so unappealing to some.
Thankfully I'm not there yet as DD is still in nursery.

ChocolateWombat Thu 12-Jun-14 18:18:47

There should be no need to grovel in thanks.
However, with a lot of these things, it is surprising how few people express any thanks. It is this which surprises me. It is not the reason most people are involved, and it is unfortunate if a few require great shows of thanks.

I guess I think that saying 'thank you' is just manners really. I'm always surprised at how few people thank the bus driver, the cashier, the teacher who has waited with a child for a late parent, the Brownie leader, the Dad who runs the football team etc etc.
Even if we don't like the style of the people running these events, is it such a strain to thank them for their efforts?

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 18:23:20

I think if you like volunteering for the PTA then do it. No one's having a go because someone wants to volunteer. I can see how it would be a pretty good cv builder if you were a home with the kids long term, or might just be enjoyable. Totally, totally fine. And yeah, nice stuff comes from it. That's all fine with me.

What people are offended by is the implication that anyone who doesn't volunteer is in some way lazy.

Its not, or shouldn't be, essential to the school running. PTA fundraising is mainly for luxury items like play equipment, the extras, and that's how it should be.

Yet my experience is that those who don't volunteer publically are basically seen as freeloaders. Clearly, from this thread, judgments are being made about people not volunteering, about them having time and that if they have time, they really ought to donate it to the PTA because its for the good of the kids etc etc. It just feels very judgemental really, backing up everything I've seen in real life. That's where I have a problem.

To be honest, I think I do a lot more good with the volunteering I do do, and by spending time with my kids, than raising money to buy a slide. That's not me being a selfish lazy arse. Its me disagreeing with the PTA about how important it is that the kids have a slide compared to how important it is that other things I volunteer with get done.

In another person's case though, it might look remarkably as though she (because I agree its interesting how its the mums being attacked hmm has a lot of time. But we don't know that. She might be struggling a lot more than we realise. For some people, especially if you've been out of the workplace, a committee meeting can be a bloody intimidating thing.

That's whats getting my back up, the judgementalness from some-not all-PTA types.

And it is being directed at women, and again I take issue with that. We're meant to hold down jobs AND volunteer AND do all the rest of the shit. No one ever looks closely at men's time and says "wow-he plays golf twice a week, why isn't he volunteering for the PTA?"

Sigyn Thu 12-Jun-14 18:26:40

Why would you assume that anyone doesn't say thank you to the PTA organisers, just because, say, they think a donation system would be better?

I'd prefer a better rail network in my city rather than a load of crappy always late buses. I still thank the bus driver of whatever bus I'm on, even if they have been a surly git, and I make sure my kids do too.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 18:39:23

You know, I don't think anyone is rude or unpleasant to people who won't/can't help. Irritation and exasperation- but not unpleasantness. However the sheer nastiness directed towards those who do just takes my breath away.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 18:40:40

There seem to be three types of women who are fair game on Mumsnet- old women, MILs and people who are on the PTA!

greenfolder Thu 12-Jun-14 18:51:08

you did well not to strike her imho.

dd2 hated sports day with a passion from age 4 (although eventually was on the hockey team). i always gave her the day off after 4 years of stress.

JassyRadlett Thu 12-Jun-14 18:51:31

To be fair, Hak, several posters have described non-volunteers as 'lazy'. And the OP was all about (mild) unpleasantness which isn't actually going to encourage people to join in.

It does cut both ways but a lot of people in this thread, on both sides or the debate, seem determined to have their backs put up. PTAs are neither inherently bad nor inherently uncriticisably good. Mostly just organisations muddling through like most charities, and like many volunteer-run organisations some will take even the most constructive of criticism personally.

(I'm assuming you hide your irritation and exasperation by the way.)

chocoluvva Thu 12-Jun-14 18:55:08

Great post Sigyn.

In my day .... grin I don't think PTA's had been invented. We didn't feel we were missing out though.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 18:58:46

A couple of people using "lazy" on one side........and on the other..........?

redskyatnight Thu 12-Jun-14 19:03:43

queenmab said

I don't do the school run.
This is the bit that people like you just don't grasp! No matter how many times you are told you just don't get that "mums" (always mothers) don't all have schedules that allow them to pop in and out of school in school hours!

So to clarify that the "people like you" will be people on our PTA - who are mostly FT working parents that don't very often do the school run? Granted, most people at our school who do this use the school after school club which meets on school premises, so do have to walk past the noticeboard. I do this myself, but even then I only pick DD up once a week. Yes, that's right, I only go near the school once a week, and don't randomnly pop in ever. So funnily enough I do get that mums don't all have schedules that allow them to pop in and out of school in school hours. But even without this once a week I pick up DD from ASC, I have managed to go to school quite a few times this year - school assemblies, school play, parents' evenings, meeting about curriculum. I accept that if you don't go to any of those things then, yes, you won't see our noticeboard, but you can still look at the website (which has all the names of the committee, multiple ways to contact us, and lists of forthcoming events and how to help), email us or read a newsletter without going anywhere near the school.

But I suspect your problem is that your interposing the problems of your PTA onto all others. Just wish you hadn't chosen mine to gripe about as actually we've bent over backwards to accommodate parents who find it hard to get to school.

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 19:36:16

Sorry to be pedantic sigyn, but actually you have to have a PTA to be part of the groom that meets city-wide where you can discuss issues like the walls falling down. And rightly or wrongly, we had more clout lobbying for a lollipop person as a "committee" with a constitution and all that implies.

I know this is largely irrelevant to the issue being discussed, but on the other hand I am demonstrating that the PTA at our school had a demonstrably useful function.

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 19:36:55

Group, not groom. Sorry for all my typos tonight blush. Not really chair material wink.

JassyRadlett Thu 12-Jun-14 19:47:19

Yep, Queen Bees. Posters on both sides being rather inflammatory, using silly generalisations, in about equal numbers to my quite neutral eyes if you separate out those talking about their own, valid experiences from those talking in pointless generalisations.

Though you'd probably acknowledge that Queen Bee alpha-types exist, though obv not in your PTA, and further that the perception that PTAs attract Queen Bee types is something PTAs should actively work to dispel if they want to attract more volunteers? The perception alone seems damaging.

I've found this thread quite depressing, especially Joffreys assertion that she avoided PTA/Governors-type like the plague and would run a mile if she saw a parent in a pub.
I am a parent who does help out at the school for trips & PTA quizzes (because I actually enjoy it). Now it seems that the other parents will think I am a queen bee! <snort>
I just thought (naively, obvs) that the place where my dd and her friends spends such a lot of her formative years, was a place that I would help where I could. Who knew it would attract such bile!

Bowlersarm Thu 12-Jun-14 20:04:46

Totally agree Sarf it's very sad.

I have made my best friends through getting involved at a parent level. Thank fuck I did.

KERALA1 Thu 12-Jun-14 20:45:29

How does one become a queen bee? Sounds fun having everyone quaking in their boots! Not sure I have ever seen one - the parents at our school are boringly normal and everyone painfully polite and careful at pick ups.

Partridge Thu 12-Jun-14 20:52:36

I think being confident and having friends at school puts you in the danger zone. wink

BoffinMum Thu 12-Jun-14 21:10:12

Become a governor, and then the PTA leave you alone!!!

sugarhoops Thu 12-Jun-14 21:38:01

Whilst I ranted posted about parent helper ishoos, I don't actually find our PTA members anything but lovely. Yes there are queen bee types in our playground, but they're not necessarily anything to do with the school, either as parent helpers or PTA members or governors. If someone is going to be a queen bee type, they'll do so wherever they are - workplace, church, playground, toddler group, friendship circle.

I would certainly never avoid school events or the school playground as some suggest, I really miss the school run when I have the rare day away from it.

scottishmummy Thu 12-Jun-14 22:30:56

Ive never helped out pta,nor will i.haven't got time or inclination

NoodleOodle Fri 13-Jun-14 01:12:04

"Every pound a PTA raises, gets the people who should be paying off the hook."

Absolutely spot on.

JoffreyBaratheon Fri 13-Jun-14 02:24:29

In my time teaching, the best most supportive parents I ever had, was a class in a certain area of the city which meant the vast majority of my mums (not all but most) were, er, working girls. No-one interested in PTA or being a governor but my god those women were brilliant when it came to going along on school trips. I once swear I had about 20 odd of them turn up for one not very exotic day out. They were fantastic. The snobby, middle class hot-housing style parents I had in some other places... just vile. And no practical use unless it was swanning around some ridiculous fete.

My husband was a governor for years - not a parent governor but a political appointee. He was a trained teacher though. He also formed a similar opinion of parent governors to many teachers I know... They'd be mortified if they knew. Heads love them, though.

Hakluyt Fri 13-Jun-14 06:18:40

""Every pound a PTA raises, gets the people who should be paying off the hook."

Not true.Or, if it is true, then your PTA is using the money it raises inappropriately.

JassyRadlett Fri 13-Jun-14 07:05:46

Hak, explain? What does the PTA pay for that wouldn't come from the government if schools were properly funded?

ppplease Fri 13-Jun-14 07:10:41

Ours used to raise funds for extras. Nothing that the LA would fund. That was the point to out PTA.
Extra play equipment, extra sports equipment, extra funded school trips, extra dressing up stuff. That sort of thing.

Hakluyt Fri 13-Jun-14 07:11:48

Money raised by the PTA should only ever be used for "extras". I suppose it depends on how you define "extras" but it should never be spent on anything that should be provided by government funding.

ppplease Fri 13-Jun-14 07:13:00

x post!

Hakluyt Fri 13-Jun-14 07:15:51

So, for example, at our primary, the school allocated some of its funding to provide a basic lighting rig for the school hall (a very keen "drama" school) but the PTA decided to fund a a super duper rig instead. And the PTA paid for a circus to come to the school for the day and teach circus skills.

Currently helping to raise money for outdoor table tennis tables at a Secondary.

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 13-Jun-14 07:17:58

Drives me mad that our PTA buys things like tissues for school, but it irritated me intensely to be asked to donate a box of tissues every term, so this is the lesser of two evils.

Our PTA is resolutely arranged for the convenience of parents (mums) who don't work. They also don't seem to understand that not everyone does the school run twice a day. But I'm glad they are around to run the summer fair etc

JassyRadlett Fri 13-Jun-14 07:20:16

A lot of stuff mentioned on this thread, though - play equipment, tech for lessons, sport equipment, keeping the swimming pool open, and musical instruments sounds to me like it should properly come from central funds. A few people on this thread have talked about the bare-essentials the school can longer afford, and in that context I have sympathy with the 'letting them off the hook' posters.

KERALA1 Fri 13-Jun-14 09:03:53

Exactly Jassy. Its really sad budgets at many schools have been slashed right back. Before I joined some parents fundraised and the LEA partly funded a forest school on the site. Theres an inspirational external forest leader that comes in to lead sessions. Each class had an afternoon every week and for many kids, particularly less academic ones, it was the best thing about school. My eldest loved it. Yes you guessed it no more funding for stuff like that its facing the chop.

I know its not "essential" but would have been so sad to lose that resource. Our PTA couldn't face the cake baking so after talking to my sister (senior development type person) I and another parent approached some big local donors. We made £10k in an afternoon- forest school is funded for a year. Tough times...

Bonsoir Fri 13-Jun-14 09:09:02

Well done, Kerala1.

ROUNDandROUNDINCIRCILESMORETHA Fri 13-Jun-14 09:13:55

I dont help after the time i did and was ignored by most of the pta. I give my time to more valued things now.

LalaLeona Fri 13-Jun-14 09:29:54

Sorry, I am an old cynic I know..but I don't believe some of the PTA ladies do it for the good of the school, but do it because they think it benefits their own little darlings..in that it gives them status and brownie points with the head, they think their children will therefore benefit, becoming 'favourites'..

JassyRadlett Fri 13-Jun-14 09:31:39

Kerala, that's brill and it's so hitting that education budgets are slashed and parents pick up the slack. It sounds like your PTA is using the skill base of its membership well - eg corporate CSR.

What really bothers me about the expectation that PTAs will fund these so-called extras is that it gives further advantages to students in schools with a better-off parent base. Which is pretty shitty if you're a kid at a school without a thriving PTA and parents who can afford to spend at PTA fundraisers.

Hakluyt Fri 13-Jun-14 09:32:34

"Sorry, I am an old cynic I know..but I don't believe some of the PTA ladies do it for the good of the school, but do it because they think it benefits their own little darlings..in that it gives them status and brownie points with the head, they think their children will therefore benefit, becoming 'favourites'.."

Absolutely. Yep. You're absolutely right. You've nailed it. And it works. Every time. Because that's what head teachers are like.

Hakluyt Fri 13-Jun-14 09:34:36

"Which is pretty shitty if you're a kid at a school without a thriving PTA and parents who can afford to spend at PTA fundraisers."

It's easy, just get all the parents to put 50 quid in the pot at the beginning of the year..........oh, wait.........

JassyRadlett Fri 13-Jun-14 09:46:08

Er, I'm not sure I advocated that. Hak - if you don't like an argument, or it makes you uncomfortable, say so. You're doing a lot of avoiding and deflecting on this thread.

KERALA1 Fri 13-Jun-14 09:54:42

I totally agree Jassy. I am not saying I am comfortable with the fact that if you have engaged educated parents you can secure more funding for your school. Surely the whole point of state education is equality and I have some sympathy for those that think parents should not do any fundraising at all as the state should provide. However in reality when faced with losing what we saw as a valuable asset to the school that was already up and running and gave so much we did what we had to.

I got my head around it by the fact that at least our school serves quite a mixed community so not all the children benefitting are those who are already fortunate. Still....

JassyRadlett Fri 13-Jun-14 09:57:00

Kerala, I will probably do exactly the same for my son''a school when the time comes.

Everhopeful Fri 13-Jun-14 09:58:28

I joined in for a while at primary and found that all those people who would have been political animals in the workplace had a tendency to find ways to exercise this in the PTA. They are what get a PTA (parents to avoid - harsh, but you can see where it comes from!) a bad name. For the rest, some go out to work and some don't, some make a big thing of what they do and some don't. There will be people you are prepared to be friends with and many that you won't. Since they are a tiny proportion of parents in the average school, it's highly likely that you will be more likely to find friends among those that don't join in with the PTA. This is in no way slagging off any PTA, as they do very valuable work and we all benefit. I often feel that it's because we recognise that they do good that we resent them so much for asking us to join in!

People are people - as long as you know you will encounter a mix of types, it's simply a matter of only doing what you feel willing to do without any thanks for it. My compromise has been to get involved to a small degree only, so I feel no resentment if it isn't recognised, but my Catholic soul is happy that I did wink!

allhailqueenmab Fri 13-Jun-14 10:00:44

"I and another parent approached some big local donors. We made £10k in an afternoon"

Kerala, that is brilliant - now that is leveraged time!

"couldn't face the cakes" - this pretty clearly states that it is a matter of choice whether people like all the bustly busy work of cake making, or not.

In some places you don't have £10k worth of local donors round the corner, but many deprived areas are really only round the corner from big business centres. If you don't have anyone at the school who has the skills / confidence to approach them then maybe look at proper fundraising training?

Weirdly, having said I struggle with social confidence in PTA type settings, I would have no problem approaching a potential corporate sponsor at a high level. they might say no but I know how to do it so I retain my dignity and their respect throughout. Unlike playground situations which make me feel very awkward and as if I am always getting something wrong although I am never quite sure what - too friendly? Not friendly enough? too assertive? Too feeble and placatory? never know what I am doing and everyone knows everyone else better than I do.

Actually I don't think schools should be forced to be begging for sponsorship and I do object to the creeping of business values into all aspects of life. But I would rather attempt to touch a big company for a 4 figure sum than all this bollocks, just as a mtter of personal preference

Everhopeful Fri 13-Jun-14 10:01:24

Hak, it benefits all the kids including your own - what's the harm in that? Frankly, I'd be amazed if the average HT knew who'd done what: there is this amorphous organisation called the PTA that does it all as far as I know and some HTs are very reluctant to engage much with them, no matter how much the school gains shock. I find that very hard to understand. It's also very hard to offer any special benefits under those circumstances.

Hakluyt Fri 13-Jun-14 10:03:01

"Er, I'm not sure I advocated that. Hak - if you don't like an argument, or it makes you uncomfortable, say so. You're doing a lot of avoiding and deflecting on this thread."

Am I? I don't think I've avoided anything- but if I have, happy to address whatever it is head on. My 50 quid remark wasn't aimed at you, by the way, it was aimed at all the people who say that's what they'd rather do- and then finding reasons not to.

Everhopeful Fri 13-Jun-14 10:04:47

Allhail, I can relate to your confidence crisis - it's down to all those politics IMO. I also dislike asking businesses, as some of them are only just keeping their heads above water and I sometimes question just how much schools need more stuff...

tobiasfunke Fri 13-Jun-14 10:09:10

This thread makes me want to cry. I have been in our PTA for 2 years. I have had to deal with a load of shit and have had other parents eyerolling when they talk about the PTA. I do it because I was brought up to believe that you need to give something back to your community however you do it. I am about to go and stand in the rain for another 2 hours to raise money for classroom resources that my child is not going to see the benefit of.
And we raise money not just for extras but for a library, a new outside classroom, security fencing and lighting, computers- stuff the council can no longer afford now budgets have been cut to the bone.

There is no way giving money at the beginning of the year would work- because not everyone would do it and then people would get annoyed that they were giving and not others and stop giving. We can't get all the parents to give the voluntary £2 for discos - despite the fact it doesn't cover the cost. We've had complaints that our Xmas presents didn't seem to be of the same value/quality so we have had to make sure all presents are the same- which is a bit of a nightmare if you're getting 70. Complaints that one disco lasted 10 minutes longer than another. It's unbelievable.

allhailqueenmab Fri 13-Jun-14 10:20:13

Don't cry, Tobias. From me anyway, my opinions are not anti-PTA; they are anti-people-who-think-everyone-should-be-doing-it-and-it-is-effortless-for-everyone

It is funny the double think though - I am not sure, individual by individual, but it feels like there are PTA type posters who are similarly representing these two utterly contradictory positions

it is bloody hard work doing all this PTA stuff;
everyone should do it, it is effortless, frictionless, easy peasy, and everyone has time

One poster said in direct response to one of my millions of thoughtful posts trying to explain my position vis a vis all this

"I am targeting those who clearly do have a bit of spare time but can't be arsed!!"

WTF? How the HELL do you know?
How do I know people don't think