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The PTA & the huge effort involved

(9 Posts)
Thehusbandsatcricketagain Wed 22-Jun-11 18:30:51

HI,I would like to get others opinions on getting people involved on helping at events put on by the PTA.
I am a vice-chair on ours & the only people doing all the work is myself,the chair & the secretary.We have had a few volunteers to do bits for us as our village fete,being organised by us, is almost upon us.........It has been like pulling teeth trying to get people to run stalls & we still don't have enough & as for getting them to return their raffle tickets !!!,the 3 of us are fed up,run ragged & thinking of packing it in as we are not here to be yelled at & criticised by other parents who think they have the right,sorry am venting here.
I want to know if there are any others out there that feel like they are banging their heads against a brick wall.I want to do it but right now it's at a cost to my family life as I work as well & we need help as to how to turn this around,any ideas ????

plus3 Wed 22-Jun-11 18:40:45

You ned to keep smiling, say thank you at all times for all offers of help, no matter how small. Respect the notion that other people feel over stretched - it might not be you definition of over stretched, but it is theirs.

It's really difficult. I am on the PTA at our school. I purposely didn't take a lead role, because I work (mainly unsocial hours) so my help can be fairly sporadic. You do notice the same faces time and time again. Keep going!

fearnelinen Wed 22-Jun-11 18:47:29

You're asking the wrong people. You need to ask your parents what would encourage them to get involved and if the answer is nothing, you need to ask them how they think you should raise money. This will be easier if you have a target i.e. "How do you think we should raise the £20k for the new extension?"
LISTEN to their answers and either act on it or get back to them about why you are not.
Do not pressurise parents into giving up their time or their money. It's not fair.
Are you really being criticized? Great! Leap on that passion, that person obviously cares, ask for their input, have a debate.
It is an impossible, thankless task. No-one has spare cash or time at the moment, especially not parents.

Runoutofideas Wed 22-Jun-11 18:48:26

Our summer fair is huge - joint infants and juniors so nearly 700 children plus families. It is a major undertaking but the PTA seem to have cracked it by getting a class representative for each class (that's the hard bit...) then allocating certain jobs for each class to man and getting the class rep to organise their rota. That way you get someone asking people they know fairly well if they can help which tends to get a more positive response. I am a class rep and the parents seem to offer OK as long as they know they are only doing an hour on the day and they don't need to go to any meetings etc beforehand. Our head of the PTA is moving on this year and looking for someone to fill the role - there don't appear to be loads of takers!

fearnelinen Wed 22-Jun-11 18:49:24

Also, what's your goal? Is the role of the PTA to raise cash or is it to extend the social aspect of the school? Both valuable roles, but very, very different.

teacherwith2kids Wed 22-Jun-11 19:19:26

I too feel that having a really concrete goal in mind, which will benefit the children of most of the parents, is absolutely critical to getting 'goodwill' from parents.

A little while ago, the village (population under 3,000) I used to live in raised many tens of thousands of pounds pounds to build a new pre-school building over a very short period, while the neighbouring school struggled to get a few parent volunteers to the school fete. Why? Because the pre-school had always been very open to parents and there was already a warm relationship between parents and the pre-school. The need for the new building was clear and very tangible. All offers of help were met with a smile and with open arms. Activities and meetings were scheduled at times convenient for everyone - whether they had small children, were SAHPs or were working. People were asked to help, and thanked properly, not told to help and taken for granted.

If you have a concrete goal in mind, communicate it to everyone. Have a purely social occasion - a party, a quiz, a drinks evening, a fish and chip supper evening, whatever - where nobody will be asked to give any money (except to cover costs) and nobody will be asked to do anything on the spot. Share your fundraising ideas there. Ask openly for others. Accept criticism of past events or ideas, keep asking how they could be made better. Crack down hard on 'negative talk' ("nobody will want to do that, nobody cares in this town, just us"). If someone has a brilliant idea that everyone is keen to run with, people to help will appear out of the woodwork. Thank them. Do not force them to go on the committee. Don't throw your toys out of the pram and don't threaten, but do state calmly that actually, you do need some more help and if we are to raise x to do y, then you would really appreciate all the help you can get. Make jobs tiny and specific - 'who can do half an hour on the hook a duck?' will work much better than 'we need people to help on the stalls and we've got the whole afternoon to fill'. Only do what you can organise easily, cut your pragramme to the bone rather than trying to keep up events 'because they've always been done' and run yourself ragged.

It's really hard, because you can easily get stuck in the 'nobody's helping us' mindset which causes you to go round everywhere with a deep frown and the world on your shoulders ... and then nobody wants to volunteer to help because it doesn't look like any fun.

ElbowFan Wed 22-Jun-11 19:39:55

What help if any do you get from the Head, SMT and the teachers? A PTA is not a Parents Association, it needs involvement from the school side of things as well. Does the school help you to raise awareness of PTA meetings, events etc? Is there a magazine to inform parents of events, needs, wants etc? Is there a website which you could use to raise awareness of PTA activity?
If you really do have total apathy from parents and teachers, I would seriously suggest that as part of your AGM you vote on winding the operation up until such time as there is support for it. You may want to discuss this with the Head first, and see if there is a preference to levy a ‘fee’ per pupil as an alternative to PTA raffles, sales etc which all take so much effort!
You say you (the school PTA) are organising the ‘village fete’ – where are the funds generated by this fete going? To the school or shared with others? Surely there must be church/ local council/ neighbourhood watch/ community groups/ WI /flower club…. who should be sharing the organisation of this?
I know you are working with the best of intentions and want to encourage others to come and join the throng, but sometimes it can be worth taking a step back and seeing if you are not just being put upon!

Thehusbandsatcricketagain Wed 22-Jun-11 21:08:37

Thanks for the replies,it's heartwarming to think that others can be of help when spirits here are low.Ok will try & amalgamate all replies with my reply.
I have thanked the people that have helped us out so far & told the ones this week they were life savers as we could not have pulled off our craft session without them.
We live in a village of around 800 so there are not that many to ask as it is a tiny school.Before I took te role earlier on this year they sent out a questionaire of what parents wanted & what they would be prepared to get involved with,but the response was not great,a few more attended the meeting held to discuss this.
We do have class representatives so good point we should make more use of these,will suggest tomorrow.
Our goal at the moment is hard cash to pay for the likes of new laptops,transport for swimming & a reduced price & transport for a trip to the panto this year.Social attempts have had to be cancelled due to lack of interest in the events but will possibly try a trip to the pub or I was thinking of getting this author in (female & after reading her books very inspirational)to give a talk/gathering.The problem is there is a divide here (economics determine this).
I have recently setup a PTA facebook page so that people that do not want to come to meetings or can't can still be involved & the dad's can get in on the action too.
We have discussed with the head with regards billing the parents for things that the PTA pay for such as swimming transport but this would be a last resort.
We also advertised in our local newsletter for any groups in the village that wanted a stall to let us know but nothing so he fete will run without any input from them,shame really as it would have really pulled it together IMO.
Anyway n reading this there is food for thought so will re-read in the morning to boost my spirits yet further & try to find a new mindset.

Thehusbandsatcricketagain Wed 29-Jun-11 18:38:14

I have to say that after the little pep talk received from here & successfully pulling off the fete last weekend I have re-newed vigour to revive our flagging PTA.I did have some parents telling me what the problem was as to why they do not want to get involved (not sure how to handle it as it involves a key member & their dislike for that person).....so onwards & upwards,am so full of enthusiasm it is quite scary,firs stop calling a meeting to re-brand it & let others know things will be changing smile

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