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Why don't most parents get involved in their children's schools?

(264 Posts)
zebraX Wed 27-Apr-05 12:03:08

Recent travel survey for my son's school -- 30% reply rate by parents.

"Help us identify your child's talents?" survey at same school, 25% response rate (so far).

Latest preschool committee meeting -- 4 commmittee members, plus committee officers turned up (80 children attend the preschool). Which is pretty good compared to

8 people at Friends of the School meeting last night (~300 children at the school), planning FunFair events. They have at least 20 events on, all of them designed to require low staffing levels, due to lack of parental support.

WHY DON'T MORE PARENTS GET INVOLVED, at least reply to surveys designed to help their school and their child's education, help out with fund-raising events???? I just don't understand. I know some people have legit excuses, but do 75-99% of the parents have good reasons for not helping out???

nerdgirl Wed 27-Apr-05 12:16:24

Think you might be preaching to the choir here zebraX. Know lots of mumsnetters are seriously involved with our kids schools. Not sure you'll find anyone to admit otherwise.

I'm chairperson of the PTA of our local school and was frankly informed once the "sure the fuckin' do-gooders take care of all that shite!"

Gobbledigook Wed 27-Apr-05 12:17:02

Wow, shocking. I've no idea - I'd have answered all the surveys and I'd have been at the meetings too. Ds1 starts school in Sept - my first one to start 'big' school! - and I can't wait to get involved.

I know some people will say if they work they don't have time but even if you work you can fill out a questionnaire while sat in front of the TV can't you? And if you work outside the home during the day, aren't evenings free so you could attend meetings?

Like you say, there will be legitimate reasons but not for that percentage of parents surely?

ks Wed 27-Apr-05 12:22:14

Message withdrawn

zebraX Wed 27-Apr-05 12:22:20

I know people who work 3 jobs, who juggle small children, who tried joining the PTA & thought it too cliquey, whose partner's work erratic shifts & they don't have other childcare...who would say those are their reasons. Which is ok and I think some people can legitimately claim these excuses...... but then, there are parents who have some/all these same problems and still do manage to turn up for and help out at least some events.

I get the impression that some/many? parents think that the bulk of their childcare years are done as soon as the kids start school.

flashingnose Wed 27-Apr-05 12:22:55

Some schools are terrible at communication - you've no idea how you could help because they don't tell you.

Some PTAs are perceived as cliquey (aargh!)

Some parents really don't care - it's enough of an effort to get the kids to school in the first place.

ks Wed 27-Apr-05 12:22:57

Message withdrawn

LIZS Wed 27-Apr-05 12:23:02

It is interesting because so often on Ofsted reports you see that parents think communication and involvement could be improved. This sort of apathy must be very frustrating.

Dahlia Wed 27-Apr-05 12:23:28

I must admit that I am one of those parents that doesn't attend meetings!! I will fill stuff in that is sent home from school, no problem there, but in the evening, by the time dh gets home from work and we have eaten, we don't have the energy or inclination to go to a meeting at school! (As well as trying to find a babysitter). Its not that I am not interested, and I would go to a meeting if it was about something really major.

batters Wed 27-Apr-05 12:24:07

I am lucky, working part time I have the opportunity to get involved in a lot of activities at my dd's school.

But I am very rarely able to attend evening meetings of, for instance the PTA, as I have no childcare in the evening. The PTA does provide a creche, but my dd has to be in bed asleep before 8 pm or she has a horrible time the next day, and the meeting go on for too long.

There are also activities straight after school which I can't attend either due to me being at work, or to the fact that dd has another activity on that afternoon.

Also (whisper) I have heard of PTAs who are not that welcoming to new members anyway. But there is no excuse for not filling in and returning a survey I agree.

bundle Wed 27-Apr-05 12:24:41

dh went to open evening at dd1's school recently (i'm heavily involved in dd2's nursery, so don't want to take on any extra) and was horrified at low turnout - even though parents had letter saying it was to help guide them through phonics etc - and especially as there was only one other man, all rest women.

zebraX Wed 27-Apr-05 12:24:47

ks -- if your pta said that they wanted to do a Mufit day/tombola to raise funds for the school but they still needed helpers on the day, would you help or avoid at all costs?

ks Wed 27-Apr-05 12:26:04

Message withdrawn

wangle99 Wed 27-Apr-05 12:26:05

I don't get involved at DD's school because the committee's are always so 'clique' and unless you are in the 'in' crowd you aren't very welcome anyway!

I do however fill in surveys. I would have loved to have gone in and helped with class reading (I just love listening to 'littlies' read) but I would have had to pay for childcare for DS while I did it!

batters Wed 27-Apr-05 12:26:28

ks !!

ks Wed 27-Apr-05 12:29:10

Message withdrawn

motherinferior Wed 27-Apr-05 12:30:18

I don't get involved in DD1's pre-school. Why not? Well, I'm like Dahlia - totally knackered and just unable to face it; and in this case the meetings are during the day. I hope I will make more of an effort when she is in reception this September. But I honestly cannot guarantee it.

Fio2 Wed 27-Apr-05 12:32:50

Oh ks I ahve just laughed at your breaking your wrist comment

zebra, i am not sure my daughters school even has a PTA if it has I havent been made aware of it or been asked to help. Think that is mainly the case as to why i dont go, dont know, am totally clueless. I would love to be more involved with my daughters school as it is 8 miles away, she gets picked up and dropped off by bus and I feel quite detatched from it all at times

flashingnose Wed 27-Apr-05 12:33:17

One thing which I think works well for things like Beavers and could work for school events as well is where they split out the kinds of help they need and you say yes or no e.g. for a fete or jumble sale:

I can set up stalls the night before
I can help on a stall
I can make tea/coffee
I can clear up afterwards

That way you can be sure you're committing to something you can handle.

Fio2 Wed 27-Apr-05 12:33:33

OIh yes, the pre-school has asked me to volouenteer......I keep forgetting

batters Wed 27-Apr-05 12:37:25

Some of the reasons I have got involved are very selfish. Firstly I wanted to know what dd got up to during the day, and helping out with reading has helped me do that! It has also set my mind at rest about how well she is doing academically. Secondly I wanted to build up a good relationship with the school so that if and when problems arise when I go and see the class teacher or head or whoever, they will already know me and we will have a good relationship.

frogs Wed 27-Apr-05 12:43:47

zebra, I have three children, a dysfunctional house and a business to run -- I genuinely do not have time to sew fabric bunting, organise a tombola or paint Santa's grotto.

There is also a tendency for those parents who do get seriously involved to become a bit of a holier-than-thou clique, which frankly tends to make those of us who are (a) extremely busy and (b) not great joiners anyway want to just leave them to it.

Also, as your child goes up the school, you acquire a bit of a history (unless you are one of the rare parents who is ecstatically delighted with every aspect of your child's education over 8 years in primary school) and you get a bit cynical over some of the school's initiatives. And finally some schools (ours included) are quite selective about which parents they cultivate. The ones who get encouraged tend to be the yes-sayers, while the stroppy parents who have criticised the school on occasion get cold-shouldered.

But being to lazy/unconcerned to answer a survey is a bit weedy.

clary Wed 27-Apr-05 12:44:24

Oh dear this is very
I’m genuinely sorry to hear that people don’t join the PTA because they feel it is a clique. It probably is only because it’s the same people every time, you know.
I am a governor at ds1’s school and also on the friends group; Friends involves approx one meeting a term (say, 6pm to 7pm) which I realise is tricky for some people but surely a lot of partners are home by that time?
Also we obviously help set up fairs, discos and other events but that is according to when you are free (eg I cannot staff a stall on a saturday afternoon as DH is always at football, but I will help set up on the Fri).
Not trying to sound holier than thou - actually I do this because it is fun and because I want to help ds’s school get money so he can have new books, extra furniture etc etc.
We are really short of peopel esp when the chair leaves this year (it’s an infant school so turnover is relatively high).
what can we do to encourage people to come on board? I really don’t want to be leaping out of the bushes at you ks
(yeah, Flashingnose, we do that a bit but it is a good idea, if people know they are committing to just a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon or whatever)

zubb Wed 27-Apr-05 12:45:39

I got involved at the pre-school for similar reasons to Batters - I want to know whats going on!
Ds1 only started in January and I am already secreatary of the committee as they are that desperate for people. The meetings are at lunchtime, but as the majority of parents are there picking up anyway, and the kids can stay and eat lunch while we meet there's not much excuse not to. I work from home so one meeting a month (less than an hour) isn't too bad.

tatt Wed 27-Apr-05 12:49:57

I'm not very involved with the children's current school. Have tried - offered to help and had no reply. I know I'm an incomer but I have a police vetting certificate (helped at last school) that is about a year old. I've recently tried for a second time making a specific suggestion for something I would run myself and had no response from head at all(9 days and counting). We did turn up to help dig a pond and we always fill in questionnaires (but if there is any ofsted coming up they won't like what gets said!)

At the childrens last school msit people who could got involved. Some were pregnant/had young babies/ were too ill and a few were scared of schools after bad experiences themselves. There are, I think, some parents who were children at this school and would prefer never to go through the doors again.

ks I was one of those people you run away from for a while

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