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WIBU to cancel the school summer fete?

(228 Posts)
Narnia72 Sun 03-Jul-16 14:53:31

I'm on the PFA committee (standing down at the next AGM as I can't believe how utterly soul draining it is).

This committee have done 2 big events now (as well as numerous little events). Big summer fair last year and Christmas fair last Christmas. Both well received, lots of people came, and enthusiastic feedback. We also raised lots of money for the school. However, each time we've had to go round the playground "persuading" people to help. It's such hard work. We've always ended up with a full team though and people have said they've enjoyed being involved.

This year we haven't had time to do the playground trawl, and so used parentmail and social media, giving parents text, email and fb options to reply. We have 17 people helping...

It's not enough. We have cancelled lots of stalls, and got it down to the bare minimum. If we dragoon our OHs in and spend 12 hours there setting up, running something and doing the clear up, we might just get away with it. But I don't want to.

I feel we should take the message the parents are giving us. The Head wants us to run it. There is a sponsored event and the children are showcasing various things they've learned in school clubs. She feels they will be disappointed. The rest of the committee are undecided.

2 parents have organised parties (one a whole class!) at the time of the event. Don't know whether deliberately or stupidly (don't know either of the parents involved to talk to). A whole group of parents who have helped historically are going away for the weekend (not together - lots of different events/weddings etc)

No-one seems that interested or bothered. I feel like we're flogging a dead horse, and if we cancel it we'll find out what people's true feelings are by their reactions. I don't want to spend this whole week running around trying to sort stuff.

I don't want this to turn into a PFA bashing thread. I know there are good and bad ones. Ours is a lovely friendly committee, and we've always been welcoming (anyone who's volunteered has been snapped up, we publicise our meetings and minutes, everyone is invited). We still get accused of cliques... It's such a poisoned chalice. WSWD?

SideOrderofChip Sun 03-Jul-16 14:57:22

I would just cancel it.

allegretto Sun 03-Jul-16 14:59:39

Could you give an ultimatum? An email saying it will be cancelled if you don't get more help within a deadline?

Whathaveilost Sun 03-Jul-16 15:01:14

I would be cancelling it and saying in news letters social media etc exactly why would are cancelling it.

The children will be disappointed? Well I guess it's a lesson in resilience and I'm pretty sure they will bounce back after not having a summer fair!!

Pimmmms Sun 03-Jul-16 15:04:12

2 massive school events in one school year and numerous little events?! YABDamnU!!! I'm sorry, but there would be no way i'd be helping out at both. That is just too much. Pick one big event for the year and stick to it.

JohnBarrowmaniac Sun 03-Jul-16 15:04:26

Cancel it. If you carry on. it will just get worse next year.

MustStopAndThinkBeforePosting Sun 03-Jul-16 15:05:07

There's a middle way here. Do what you can with the 17 people you have. Don't go overboard or kill yourselves trying to do too much. You can run 8 activities reasonably with 17. that will get in a reasonable amount if funds raised. You could try publicising a list of the activities you are expecting to cancel along with the amount you think each might raise for the school if they could go ahead, so that potential volunteers can see the difference that volunteering makes. However, most volunteers will always be achieved with face to face asking for it.

I think ywbu to cancel - if there were 3 people available that would be reasonable but 17 isn't bad.

Beeziekn33ze Sun 03-Jul-16 15:07:06

Have committee meeting, make a decision, then have a meeting with the head to say what you've all decided. Or talk with the head first then to the committee.

TheWindInThePillows Sun 03-Jul-16 15:09:43

One thing our school does really well is the school fair, and the thing they do best is get the children to run stalls. Each group of children have an idea- could be anything from selling squash to BeanBoozle to pin the tail on the donkey, face paints, nail painting- and the children in Year 5 and 6 run them with little assistance. The main things the parents do is put out the tables and put away the chairs, man the bbq, help on the raffle/book stall. The teachers also help out with things like counting the money (not all of them). They have a bouncy castle hired, I don't know how cheap that is but it's extremely popular.

I don't formally offer to help, but still helped my child set up their stall, provided a float, put the tables/chairs away afterwards and cleaned the playground.

Could that type of thing work?

rookiemere Sun 03-Jul-16 15:09:52

Well if the head wants it to be run, could she send an email out to encourage parents to participate?

I'd speak to the head and say how much work it will be with that number of volunteers and ask if she has any suggestions on how to up them as without <insert sensible number> it can't go ahead.

TheWindInThePillows Sun 03-Jul-16 15:14:04

I meant to say that the reason it works really well is that the children love doing games, painting nails and so forth with other children. In my children's last school, the parents ran all the stalls and it wasn't as much fun at all, even though the 'quality' of the stalls was probably better.

Lelloteddy Sun 03-Jul-16 15:14:16

If the head wants it to be run, how many of her staff are helping?
We cancelled a Christmas event this year because of a complete lack of support from any of the staff. Including a reluctance to open up the school premises or lock up afterwards. The only response we had from them was annoyance that the latest IPAD they wanted to purchase would have to be put on hold.
I've pretty much had my fill of PTFAs.

EveOnline2016 Sun 03-Jul-16 15:14:20

Is the parties for thier DC birthday party.

MiscellaneousAssortment Sun 03-Jul-16 15:14:30

Yes I'd do a whole school mail to make everyone aware of the situation and give one last chance for people to pitch in, which may happen if they realise that the fair just can't be put on this year without them.

Eg 'sadly we will have to cancel it due to lack of volunteers. We need a minimum of X to make the school fair possible (or to help man x stalls/ do X activities), but we only have x people, so even if we all work very hard we cannot make the school fair the success it should be/ has been in previous years.

We are very thankful to the people that have volunteered their valuable time and effort, and we absolutely appreciate that people are very busy with other things at this time of year, but the reality is we just don't have enough people.

We just wanted to share this situation with everyone and say that we are aware that people will be disappointed if it doesn't go ahead, and open this problem out to the whole school community.

We need to make a final decision by X, so if there are people that do want to pitch in, we'd love to hear from you... "

And then add some 'bite size' volunteering spots so people can manage it easier, and team together eg hourly slots on stalls, choice of set up or clear up, volunteering as pairs etc etc.

WipsGlitter Sun 03-Jul-16 15:16:03

It's amazing his people think helping out is what other people do! A friend and I helped at the school fete. Loads of people we knew commented on how we were so good to help out and have feeble excuses as to why they didn't. Essentially they are lazy and think it's below them. At another event one of the (in her eyes) alpha mums was almost annoyed I was helping out!!

RosesareSublime Sun 03-Jul-16 15:17:27

OP I know this may sound silly but many parent dont understand the pta is separate from the school/teachers etc what it does or what it is for.

I would perhaps try and show them this, what the money raised goes too and is for.

if that doesnt help, perhaps cancelling it with slightly PA message about it being a shame the money cant be raised for x. Hopefuly next year it can happen if parents put themselves forward.

it might help people realise its what they make it?

ExtraHotLatteToGo Sun 03-Jul-16 15:20:45

I'd send emails/tweets/FB/whatever messages to all parents advising this is the last call for help before it's abandoned. But you need to be specific about what you need people to do. A general call of 'help required' is far less likely to get you hel than a list of things you need help with ie

- People to come at 8am to help set up marquees for two hours
- People to come at 8am to set up tables/chairs
- People to run stalls (then set out which & times)
- People to take shifts organising the car parking (then list times)

People are far more willing to help if they know what they will be doing and what time to put aside for it.

If you don't get enough offers of help after that, tell the Head the PTA won't be hosting it and if she wants to do it, you are happy to give her the names of parents who said they'd help and offer whatever help you are happy to give her. Then it's up to her to do it or cancel.l

Kenduskeag Sun 03-Jul-16 15:27:23

What time/day are these events? People are at work. They can't take days off work to sell cupcakes. The amount of stuff I get home from school assuming I can 'just pop in to watch the kids mumble a song' at an 11am or 2pm assembly, or come in to watch sports day at a moment's notice (it was cancelled and rearranged due to rain - "we'll let you know on the day!") suggests to me they don't think the parents of these kids are at work.

JudyCoolibar Sun 03-Jul-16 15:28:43

I'd go with the ultimatum, and also suggest to the head that if she's so keen on the event happening, maybe she and the staff can do the playground trawl for helpers.

JudyCoolibar Sun 03-Jul-16 15:29:29

Kenduskeag, I'm pretty sure that a summer fete will be on a weekend.

shazzarooney999 Sun 03-Jul-16 15:30:31

Id send a letter out saying if you dont get enough helpers it will be canceled.

foursillybeans Sun 03-Jul-16 15:31:31

A silly question but is it actually an event that people want to go to? I only ask because our school has recently changed the summer fete to an event that is not a fete. It will cost too much to attend for my family and it doesn't appeal to me. Could that be the issue you are having?

foursillybeans Sun 03-Jul-16 15:32:39

Judy a lot of people work weekends too.

fiorentina Sun 03-Jul-16 15:34:45

I think our school PTA manage it well as each class has 2 stalls to run and have to find volunteers to run those.

Has the head made clear what you're specifically fundraising for eg to upgrade outdoor play equipment or buy an IPad for example, to make the fundraising more tangible. Can you advertise for external groups/vendors to take a stall eg (and I hate myself for saying it) to get an Osborne book seller, Forever Living etc to pay for the space?

I know volunteering is thankless, we both work nearly full time and weekend time is valuable, not just for fun but all the jobs I don't have time to do in the week. It's hard to commit days for volunteering but would help for a few hours.

Filosofikal Sun 03-Jul-16 15:34:51

I would cancel. Suggest a casual meet up in a park or something with your kids friends instead.

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