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Have you ever heard of a school without a PTA? Mine doesn't. Should I start one? How?

(23 Posts)
indiemummy Sun 17-Jun-07 14:15:48

Ds is in nursery class, will be starting reception at the same school in Jan 08. It's an inner London community state primary, one form entry, 77% Muslim, high proportion have little or no English when they start school and plenty of coming and going during terms (children I mean). Despite this I am happy for ds to stay there as it is our local school and there are (of course) some brilliant local children and some good teaching - under difficult circumstances. Anyway he loves being in nursery class so far. He goes every morning.

But there's no PTA or anything. Should I complain? Make an appointment with the head? I keep thinking I'll mention it if I see her but haven't seen her all term. I don't want to bother her. (Also I have a baby, am worried that if I make an appointment with the head the baby will just scream and puke everywhere and I won't be able to have a proper talk)... I have no experience of anything like this but surely a PTA / Friends of XX school type thing would only be a good thing?? How would one go about starting one? Any advice appreciated! Thank you! x

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lilolilmanchester Sun 17-Jun-07 14:23:22

As long-serving PTA member, I'd say make sure you have the support of a good number of other parents first - AND the buy-in from other members of staff, not just the Head. Be clear about why you want one and what you want to achieve (i.e. is it fundraising? or creating a community spirit? Both?). I'd hugely admire you if you wanted to set one up, and I (and I'm sure loads of other MNetters) would support & advise you. But be sure you know what you're getting yourself into! Suggest doing a message search on PTA and reading through some related posts.

indiemummy Sun 17-Jun-07 14:30:03

Thanks - I have been searching MN and of course there's a mountain of stuff about PTAs. I don't know any of the teachers except for the ones in nursery class, and I know a few parents of ds's friends from nursery, just to say hello to. I do need more support. I will talk to the parents I know and see what they say, although many of them don't have much English, and none of them seem keen to talk to the teachers or get involved in any way, so not sure that I would get much support. I did mention it to one mum and she didn't know what a PTA was...

I want to create community spirit, AND do some fundraising, yes. I think even something like a winter fair or cake sale would bring people together and get the parents a bit more involved in the school.

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indiemummy Sun 17-Jun-07 14:32:55

(...by the way I realise the thread title doesn't make very good grammatical sense, )

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lilolilmanchester Sun 17-Jun-07 14:36:11

A cake sale/coffee morning would be a good next move to help you judge initial response to something parent driven and to give you a forum to discuss with other parents/identify volunteers to help out. That said, I've never set one up from scratch (and still found both PTAs an uphill struggle) so would hold out for a response from someone who has, preferably with similar cultural mix to your school/

lilolilmanchester Sun 17-Jun-07 14:36:37

hey, knew what you meant! Sod the pedants!

indiemummy Sun 17-Jun-07 15:01:20

thanks. i've invited some of the other children from ds's nursery class to his 4th birthday party on 7th july so hopefully that will be a good opportunity to get to know them (when i am not frantically running around organising things!).

i really wanted to find out if it's particularly unusual not to have any form of parents' organisation / association for a primary school. It struck me as odd - I thought all schools had one? and does it really matter - is it an optional extra, or do you think it's integral to the success of the school?

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coppertop Sun 17-Jun-07 15:22:01

I don't think ds1's school has one either - or if it has, it's never once been mentioned. There seems to be a lot of apathy amongst the parents though. School is seen as a place to drop your children off to for the day. The Head does a lot to encourage more involvement but I suspect that somewhere along the way the PTA was abandoned. From reading MN threads it certainly does seem unusual for a school not to have a PTA.

indiemummy Sun 17-Jun-07 15:34:58

yes, that was my feeling, it seems unusual not to have one. but maybe that's because MN attracts the kind of parent who is and wants to be involved in their kids' education.

I'd like to find out if the head at ds's school wants to encourage more parental involvement, or not. Was thinking of phoning to arrange a meeting, dragging the baby in; but lilo lil has made me think i should be sure that i have some support among the other parents first. which sounds sensible.

I also get the sense that most parents treat ds's school as a babysitting service as well.

would you prefer it if your ds's school had a PTA, coppertop? Have you thought of resurrecting it?

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Peachy Sun 17-Jun-07 16:06:05

Hve you checked with the Head? just that at ds's school there is a powerful (if under subscribed- and YES I do help out LOL before I get slated ) PTA wheras the Head at the Juniors refuses to allow one- some whispers as to why, I think I get the drift and its to do with apst experiences, shall we say!.

Last school we were at didnt have one, parents still helped out just on an informal basis. PTA's can ask a lot in terms of regular commitment- those like me who are willing to help when they are able but cant make meetings regualrly (here they are all evening based and dh works evenings)areh't enough to form a basis, iyswim. there ahs to be several really available people for the rest to work.

coppertop Sun 17-Jun-07 16:20:58

I think we have similar fundraising activities to schools with a PTA but they are organised by the staff instead. Some events are well-supported, eg the Christmas stalls and the school discos but generally parents just don't seem to want to know. As an example, last year they had a sponsored event and ds1 managed to raise a small amount of money. When the final total was published I realised that ds1's contribution made up 10% of the total - in a school of well over 200 children. I can see now why they only do one sponsored event a year.

Tbh I think trying to resurrect the PTA would be like flogging a dead horse.

lilolilmanchester Sun 17-Jun-07 17:17:13

the teachers are "too busy" in our school to do fundraising, apparently (ironically most of the PTA mums work too) so if PTA didn't do it, no one would....

indiemummy Sun 17-Jun-07 17:17:16

thanks Peachy, you're right, it doesn't have to be a formal commitment, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe if I get some parents together we could try to organise just one event or coffee morning and see how we get on. Will let you know!

Coppertop, well done to your ds for raising 10% of the total!!!

Our school doesn't really seem to have any 'events' - no discos or fairs that I know of anyway. I will ask around and see if i can get a group of parents interested. I remember my school fairs so fondly, helping out on the stalls, coming together with children from other classes, everyone mucking in together - I really think it would be good to get something going at our school. (I realise I sound like a meddling busybody btw)

Going out now - thanks for everyone's help, got some food for thought now x

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unknownrebelbang Sun 17-Jun-07 17:25:53

I don't think you sound like a meddling busybody at all! Nice to see someone interested.

Given the comments on some of the threads on MN though, I'd be very loathe to commence anything unless you've got hide like a rhino, lol.

Having said that, if you wish to take this further once you've spoken to the head, try googling NCPTA, there website has got info on setting up a PTA.

lilolilmanchester Sun 17-Jun-07 17:36:08

agree re looking at PTA website. I really don't want to put you off - there are lots of rewards (like seeing the school being able to buy things the budget wouldn't otherwise , and meeting lots of people in year groups you wouldn't meet otherwise. Some of my closest friends are due to PTA stuff.) Just don't go in with your eyes closed, and preferably with some support from a couple of other parents.

portonovo Mon 18-Jun-07 14:18:57

I would echo the informal approach. We used to have a PTA but things got very nasty at one point and almost the whole committee resigned en masse.

A few of us then started things off on an informal basis, with the support of the head. We call ourselves a 'fundraising team' and have no constitution or formal titles etc. Any letters we send out are signed by the head on school notepaper and are phrased as if they come from the head - this way we are not a separate body but part of the school. We are covered by school insurance for any fetes or other events, so don't need liability insurance etc. In the 3 years since we started this arrangement we have raised over £10,000 for the school.

I would chat to other parents and see how they feel, then talk to the head. Start small, perhaps a coffee morning or other small social event first or a cake sale. Ask for ideas and be approachable.

indiemummy Mon 18-Jun-07 16:55:52

Ooooh brilliant, am looking at the NCPTA site now, had no idea it existed. This is just what I need.

Going to take it slow (ds doesn't even start reception til Jan 2008 - he's in nursery now), but really like the idea of starting a Friends Of type thing... Going to try to get some other parents on-side, and will casually mention to head & teachers as and when I see them around.

Thanks everyone!

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MorocconOil Mon 18-Jun-07 22:45:06

Hello Indiemummy, my dc are at a school which is about 80% muslim. Up until last year there was no PTA. The head resisted one and we had to patiently wait for him to retire. There is a core group of parents who wanted change and felt that a PTA was essential to promote a feeling of community and integration between the different groups of children and their families. This wasn't really happening and it has been very difficult for some of the non-muslim children who have felt quite isolated.

About 6 of us began to meet in January to discuss the aims of a group and how to set it up. Three members of this group were Muslim which is really important as it will fail without their involvement.

There were also governors in this group who took the idea to the governing body for approval.

We then went to parents evening and recruited more staff and parents by using a simple questionnaire. A new head started last term who is pro-PTA. Since then we have held 2 larger meetings and we are in the process of forming a committee, constitution, applying for a start-up grant from the council, and hope to have an autumn fair to increase membership of the group.

As you are new to the school it may be worth asking around about the head's attitude, find out who the parent governors are and approach them, and just try and get to know more like minded parents.It isn't something that can be set up overnight and may be a challenge as it was at our school. We are still not really off the ground after 6 months.

Good luck and have a good look on old PTA threads as I have found these really helpful.

MorocconOil Mon 18-Jun-07 22:46:59

We also talked to people at other local schools who had set up groups. They were very helpful.

Sam090814 Fri 30-Oct-20 07:14:28

Interested to know how you got on with this?!

Guymere Fri 30-Oct-20 13:34:13

From 2007??? Child will be in 6th form now! Start a new thread?

Sam090814 Fri 30-Oct-20 15:38:03

I was interested to know how rhis lady in particular got on as i would like to do something similar myself plus didn't spot how old it is. Thread police haha.

PresentingPercy Fri 30-Oct-20 15:58:00

Not really. Just sensible advice I would have thought. I thought you will get better answers if you started your own thread with your particular situation. Usually works better. Someone from 13 years ago might not be around now. I know quite a lot about PTAs and happy to help but I would prefer to know what your issues are, why the school hadn’t got one etc.

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