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Where do you go if your PTA is essentially corrupt?

(34 Posts)
hobbgoblin Mon 28-Sep-09 22:26:22

Is there a body of some kind to which one can turn if things in the PTA are decidedly dodgy and possibly quite undemocratic.

Same question if you feel that the Head and Governing body are ignoring a large number of parents and are in cahoots, again destroying any hope of democratic decision making.

Our PTA is going through troubled times. Some half wit has posted on Facebook or similar about it because the Chair of Governors has written to all parents asking that no photographs be posted of chidlren on the net, and also adds that school has been discussed on social networking sites and that such comments are damaging the school's reputatin and "are not wanted".

Many of us are preturbed by this letter as it seems a bit 'shut you up' rather than any sign of alarm bells ringing for the policy makers who then might like to question exactly why so many parents are upset. The disquiet is growing. I want to do something.

Heated Mon 28-Sep-09 22:27:36

Is it the PTA or the governing body you have problems with? Or both?

edam Mon 28-Sep-09 22:31:12

Is this about real stuff or playground gossip? Chair of governors can ask but can't actually do anything about Facebook, unless anyone makes any libellous comments.

Suppose you could go to the LEA or Ofsted if you think the school is being badly run or the governors are not doing their job. (Which is not to run the school in a day to day sense, btw.)

No idea re PTA - unless someone is running away with the money, in which case it's one for the cops.

hobbgoblin Mon 28-Sep-09 22:33:41

Well, the Head is Diplodocus reborn. That is one problem. So, a few parents have managed to get themselves on the committee of the PTA thinking they could bring about change more effectively from within whilst supporting the school. That didn't work and some really good community events have been stopped because the Head has outlawed. We thought we'd take our frustrations to the Governors but then we receive this letter which outlines the reality and that is that we have a bad case of see no evil hear no evil going on from the top down.

OmicronPersei8 Mon 28-Sep-09 22:38:52

I worked in a school like this - it was hard, and I don't what the solution is. Mine was to leave, as I couldn't take the bullying of staff and parents alike. So nothing constructive to offer, just sympathy.

OmicronPersei8 Mon 28-Sep-09 22:39:32

I don't know what the solution is..

Sagacious Mon 28-Sep-09 22:40:38

First port of call should be the Governors BUT

they would have an idea

If your PTA is a registered charity

charity commission

(I hope to god its not our school !)

hobbgoblin Mon 28-Sep-09 22:41:24

Some stuff is inevitably playground personality clashing gossipy what not. However, we are beginning to stand out as a school without much going for us. We raisefew funds through PTA which is badly run, and then the money sits in the account and is not spent on the school/children.

We started a gardening project and transformed the school grounds which are not maintained beyond grass cutting. There was a huge parental turnout on our gardening weekends but only one (new) staff member attended and now the Head has refused parent involvement with the project saying she does not want us to stay on school grounds watering the plants which will now die.

We have harvested the vegetable patch and donated to the Harvest Festival supplies, and now the area will die off whereas we had hoped it would be maintained and used as a school resource and perhaps incorporated into learning. LOTS of parents hoped for this. Head says no.

This is just one example. Secondly, the PTA is divided by old members who back the Head on this sort of thing and new members who want better.

is a bit hard to explain but parents are so upset and jaded, many saying they wished they's chosen a different school but now feel it would be too unsettling for their children to change schools.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 28-Sep-09 22:42:51

In my DC's school, the PTA is simply a social and fundraising body. Unless someone were stealing the money, I'm not sure how they could be corrupt. You couldn't change anything from inside the PTA except the PTA.

BexJ78 Mon 28-Sep-09 22:43:16

If it is to do with the governing body, go to the local authority and ask to speak to the officer in the Children and Young people's service responsible for school governors. if the school is maintained by the authority then the LA can get involved...not sure about PTA though...

Sagacious Mon 28-Sep-09 22:45:06

Hmm it doesn't sound like they're corrupt though I doubt theres a lot you can do.

The vegetable patch is annoying but not unheard of (I nearly cried at the state of KS1 tomatoes)

Are you on the committee?

Or it all this playground gossip?

TheFallenMadonna Mon 28-Sep-09 22:45:38

Ah. xpost. Before making decisions about what to do in school, we would always run things past the Head. Because what parents think would be lovely (and it does all sound lovel) may just not fit with the school's plans. You need a joint development plan for the grounds. And don't expect the staff to turn up on the weekends to do the weeding.

trickerg Mon 28-Sep-09 22:46:21

This seems to be stemming from new, stringent rules on e-safety. Many schools are now banning photos at plays / sports days in case they reach facebook. I was at a conference last week, where someone had inadvertently posted a pic of sports day which included a looked-after child, who would be in danger from a parent if located. These are things that schools are having to think about, so it might be a good idea to get off your high horse and read a little bit about e-safety (Thinkuknow is a good site to start.)

Monty100 Mon 28-Sep-09 22:48:58

Try the Local Education Authority?

Quattrocento Mon 28-Sep-09 22:52:54

You could always shrug and not bother? I mean, you know why get involved with this nonsense? What's to gain? You'd get more satisfaction from finding a nice strong brick wall and banging your head against it repeatedly.

hobbgoblin Mon 28-Sep-09 22:53:54

I suppose there are two separate issues here and they have become entangled because several saw the PTA as the only way to softly tackle the bigger issues with the way the school is run.

There are a number of school staff (TAs, etc.) on the PTA core committee which seems wrong as they overrule any new thinking in line with the Head's utter resistance to anything new or exciting. This all gets reported back to the Head who then sounds out strange emails blocking us from doing just about anything. The Head even has an opinion on the flippin' catering at the school Fair.

It seems petty but it is serious as things like the school Fair VERY nearly did not happen as all the silly sobbing old skool PTA women were threatening to resign over Pimms and Clotted Cream issues the night before. Petty on one hand but hugely embarrassing for the school if that had happened. And then you have bizarre pointed tannoy messages from the Head on the actual day listing names of the people she likes and leaving out the main orgnaiser in her thanks list. I don't get it. It's like some trashy novel about village life. Midsomer Murders perhaps, because one PTA member appears close to suicidal quite frequently, tbh.

Seriously though, I know I'm explainign this badly but we are soooo disillusioned when we look at nearby schools and what they achieve and then we look at ours. It looks like nobody gives a monkeys about getting and doing the best for the children.

hobbgoblin Mon 28-Sep-09 22:57:18

Right, thanks for links and suggestions. I'm not particularly on form this evening in terms of explaining self.

Glad you got the gist though. There is some very odd thinking going on and things are approved one minute and snatched away the next. It's as though the Head is afraid of losing control of her empire to me.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Mon 28-Sep-09 22:57:52

You seem to have a couple of issues here.
The photo thing. As TrickerG says there are issues around child safety if parents are putting pictures of school events on the internet which contain images of children other than their own. Many schools require parents attending such events to sign a disclaimer promising that their photos will not be made public in this way. Is this the sort of thing you mean or is there some other issue over photographs.
The garden thing. Very annoying after all your hard work, but the PTA needs to be working with the school on mutually agreed projects. Was it clear from the start that the head was not keen on the gardening project or did she lose enthusiam midway through?
The issue of policy. PTA's fundraise. They don't make policy. Your job is essentially to agree with the school what the fundraising priorities are for the near future and then raise the money.
Strategy is decided by the governing body. Policies are agreed by the governing body.
NOTHING is decided by the PTA so corruption isn't really a relevant term unless, as another poster said, someone has run away with the money.
Not much help I know, but you need to be clear in your own mind what the issues are. ATM from your posts it sounds like a fairly straightforward (and not uncommon) personality clash between the head and some PTA members. In that situation, you will find, the head holds the cards.

Sagacious Mon 28-Sep-09 23:00:14

Well you can do :


Join the PTA
Then you can do something about it

(they sound like absolute loons BTW so depends if you're made of stern stuff)


Quit your jibber jabber and go buy a chocolate bar from Mr T (nice way of saying do A)

(I am on a PTA committee BTW)

TheFallenMadonna Mon 28-Sep-09 23:01:05

If you really want to get to the policy stuff, you need to be a governor, not on the PTA. You will annoy the Head if you overplay the role of a fundraising organisation. The governors are the bosses.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 28-Sep-09 23:02:09

Oh. Are you not on the PTA? I assumed you were from the 'lose her empire to me" bit.

Sagacious Mon 28-Sep-09 23:03:10

And FM is right about the governors (I think the clue is in the name grin )

LadyGlencoraPalliser Mon 28-Sep-09 23:03:16

Sorry, xposted. Sounds like a fairly standard PTA committee factional stand-off to me. Iced buns at dawn and arsenic in the Pimms. Only thing you can do is make sure your guys get elected chair and secretary - once the key positions are yours everything else follows.

wannaBe Mon 28-Sep-09 23:10:04

tbh a lot of this sounds like playground stuff rather than serious get-the-governing-body-involved serious matters.

Firstly, the PTA has no involvement in the running of the school nor do they have any influence. The PTA is there for fundraising purposes only.

Unfortunately, a lot of PTA's have a reputation for being cliquey, and lots of people will tell you that the older members tend to be resistant to change while newer members get frustrated because they want to bring in new ideas. It happens in schools across the country and is immensely frustrating. And equally, some heads are open to the ideas parents have, and some aren't. And given a lot of fundraising things happen on school premises and involve the head or other staff needing to be there, they are often reluctant because having spent twelve hours a day there five days a week (well the head at least), they're not so keen to put in an appearance at the weekends.

The only thing you can realistically do wrt the PTA is to join and to try to suggest things that the head, and the older members will be open to. But if they're not, then just to bide your time - the older members will be gone when their kids go (many leave when the kids hit year 6 as they want to do the fetes etc with their kids rather than being part of it then), and then you'll be the older member with the ideas...

Wrt photos, this is very common practice. Most schools require parents to sign a consent for their children to be photographed, if consent is not given for one child in a group then no-one in the group can be photographed. Often this is for child protection reasons, where a child might have been relocated due to domestic violence for eg, and if the child's picture were put on facebook then the child could be traced and be at risk. It does seem harsh but in an age where photos aren't limited to the box under the bed and can be distributed across the entire www it's something that needs to be considered.

I'm not sure what you want the governors to do about the PTA though?

And lastly, I'm sorry but griping about it on facebook is just juvanile, and I can see why it annoys people. People need to start realizing that facebook really isn't a platform for serious discussion.

If you have serious issues with how the school is being run (in terms of the education of your child), then I suggest you have a discussion firstly with the head and if no satisfaction then the chair of governors. But what is and isn't allowed wrt the PTA really isn't grounds for considering removing children from the school.

hobbgoblin Mon 28-Sep-09 23:11:40

Yes, I'm on the Committee. Would like to be a Governor but I just know I'd be outvoted on just about everything so am happy to join in via PTA wherever I can with some of the more parent led stuff, because you can be sure that the Head led initiatives will be few and far between, <cough> non existent.

The main issue is the fact that our Head does not do anything 'extra' or want for more than the minimum for our children. We are a tiny school which I feel means we have to work harder to gain resources that even halfway match what bigger schools have. The Head has stated that she feels we must resign ourselves the the reality of being a small school and not expect much. She complains that there aren't the staff to seek out funding pots, yet PTA members have volunteered to do this (I have experience through work) and she has turned us down.

The PTA isn't really the issue, but it is relevant in that it highlights examples of the attitude of staff and governors.

I have no idea what to do.

A more serious example: The playground is inadequately supervised. Children have 'escaped' and lots of injuries occurring unseen. I personally witnessed a 20 minute period of the road adjoining playground totally unsupervised with the gate to the road unlocked. I talked to my children at the school gate during this time (was trying not to). I have been to the Head about it and she outright denies it. There are many examples like this.

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