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AIBU to think that PTAs are the stuff of nightmares??

177 replies

6079SmithW · 12/12/2019 01:42

Firstly to caveat: I am a single parent, working full time, a school governor and chair of the PTA. (It's also 1:40am and I am shattered so I'm possibly overreacting).

Anyway, we had our school Christmas Fair at the weekend. It was the culmination of weeks of hard work. We raised a small/reasonable amount of money, however I'm left with the feeling that none of it was worth it.

Over the weeks we've had PTA members squabbling /falling out/bitching/having tantrums/refusing to work with each other/refusing to volunteer full stop and taking supplies (without paying) for their personal use.

I am a professional, and used to conflict, dealing with people and change management. I feel like this bunch of mums has beaten me though. Is anyone actually on a PTA which works well?? If so please share your hints and tips

OP posts:
SploshMeBackwards · 12/12/2019 01:53

The reasons you've mentioned are the very reasons why I've refunded numourous times to join the PTA at my childs school. I've been approached so bloody much but I still say no because of how nasty and bitchy alot of the current members are.

Bettyswoo · 12/12/2019 02:03

They're all the same. A hotbed of people who rarely have power and their politics. These are the bickering, bitching arses that achieve fuck all whilst the rest of the 3 parents who bother to turn up quietly volunteer and fundraise.

I've begun to withdraw as DD is in Yr 6 so will leave this time.

lifecouldbeadream · 12/12/2019 04:48

Honestly, it’s no wonder you’re shattered.

As a former Governor- let someone else lead the PTA- you’re doing plenty!

Juliette20 · 12/12/2019 04:53

I was on the PTA committee for five years when DD1 was at primary school. Nice group of people, raised a lot of money and didn't experience bitchiness and power trips. It can be a lot of work though, so since then I've only helped with events on an ad hoc basis, feeling like I've done my time!

Booboostwo · 12/12/2019 04:57

I’ve been helping with the PTA in my DCs school for a few years with different people on the committee. We’ve all gotten along and they’ve all been nice people to work and socialize with. The fundraising has been very demanding though and the money raised is very modest.

SillyUnMurphy · 12/12/2019 05:05

Christmas fetes are know for being a massive ballache without much return to be honest.

Bluewavescrashing · 12/12/2019 05:31

They're all the same

I disagree actually. Our PTA has some lovely people. No drama. I pick and choose when I want to give my time.

Biggest issue we had was someone had forgotten to buy sellotape so we had to borrow the school rolls. Everyone got on well.

I was sent a lovely Christmas card in my son's bookbag thanking me for my time which was nice.

speakout · 12/12/2019 05:37

Ours was the same OP.

I was a school governor for a few years, but the PTA was a squabbling bunch.
Can I ask what is done with the money raised?

user1471530109 · 12/12/2019 05:41

Ours is lovely and I've never known drama over bitchiness.
However I am frustrated and exhausted by the lack of support from the rest of the parents. We live in an affluent, rural area (I'm far from rich. Work full-time, single parent, SEN dc) with many parents able to be sahp. Yet they never volunteer their time and then don't contribute by supporting events.
But then have the audacity to moan (and I mean cause huge problems) if the pta have to change how they support school. Or if they don't agree with the mother's Day gifts that have been bought Grin. Or if little persophone cant have a Santa gift this year as not enough money has been raised. Honestly, it's a good job I'm rarely there at pick up.

So, no, the pta I have no problems with. It's a lot of the other parents I have an issue with.

Stooshie8 · 12/12/2019 05:47

Perhaps it's worse if it's DMs of pfbs.

speakout · 12/12/2019 05:56

user1471530109 your PTA raises money fo mother's day gifts??

As I eluded to in my previous post- this is an example of why I question the work of many PTA groups.

I was a school governor but avoided the PTA. Money raised would be spent on questionable stuff- I remember teddy bears for all the leavers before they moved up to secondary school. Not many 11 year olds really want a teddy bear. Batches of cheap water bottles that leaked inside school bags. Purchases were made with little consultation with the wider school.
Our PTA consisted of a strong friendship group- dubbed the "alpha mums", othe parents found the "club" exclusive, those that did try to attend meetings were either not allowed to contribute to the discussion or were slammed down id ideas were at odds with teh concensus.
PTA members were to be seen flapping clipboards in the playground seeking volunteers for splat the rat or to sort out tables for the christmas fare.
Our PTA found it hard to get wider engagement, and I can see why- they saw themselves as a friendly bunch, brimming with exciting ideas.
Most other parents did not see them that way. They were seen as self appointed, exclusive and officious.

speakout · 12/12/2019 06:02

So, no, the pta I have no problems with. It's a lot of the other parents I have an issue with.

Surely it is the job of the PTA to respond to the needs of the parents- and represent the wishes of the parents? Not the other way around.
This is your problem.
Perhaps wider consultation is needed.

Scotinoz · 12/12/2019 06:03

Our school PTA is fine actually. It is a small school with only half a dozen or so on the committee. Teachers are very involved too. While it has its moments, they're all good people

Soffy · 12/12/2019 06:04

I've helped out on the PTA over the years and have never experienced bitching or squabbling. But I always just hated doing it. Whatever you see on the day takes hours of organising in the background and is huge amounts of effort . I gave it all up when my youngest got to year 6 , and yes I was a SAHP at the time but that doesnt mean I have to volunteer for the PTA! The bottom line is , if you dont want to get involved then dont , but also dont then moan.

Now mine are at secondary school I just donate to the school fund..I have no interest in taking part in the PTA and to be honest I find the whole idea of having to raise additional funds by making cakes or organising fairs as ridiculous anyway (what other public service do we have to do this for? ). The concept of the PTA in terms of cake baking and fairs etc is just so dated. It heavily relies on women (mostly) doing a whole lot of work for nothing.

BG2015 · 12/12/2019 06:08

Our PTA consists of about 3 parents. We've threatened to disband it in the past as it was basically all of us teachers and TAs that were running it.

We pay for trips/coaches, equipment for school with our money raised.

Last week we raised £1300 at our Christmas Fair so it's a lot of money that the school wouldn't otherwise have.

kristallen · 12/12/2019 06:10

I am not in the PTA for this reason. I started to get involved and then saw crap like this and pulled back. I volunteer at the school but only in events where I'm given a task and a time and I turn up do it and don't discuss it!

I have a friend who is hair of her PTA and there seems to be an awful lot of work for comparatively little gain.

I think part of the PTA problem both with fund raising and the work involved is that they're often trying to do two things at once: organise a fun social event + get much needed money. As soon as the former is added to the latter with teams who are heavily focused on the former PLUS running scared of making changes, or trying to outdo the previous committee, it can only cause problems. Oh yes, and there's no chain of command really because everybody is a volunteer.

Event planning and running is a career. It's a skill. PTAs often seem to run on the idea that anybody can do it and everybody can have a say - and should - and everybody needs to be treated as a friend so they're not offended etc. I think giving people clear and self-contained responsibilities can help, but ultimately I don't think these regularly occurring fraught situations with PTAs can be avoided entirely.

Millie2013 · 12/12/2019 06:11

I’m on the PTA, which I affectionately refer to as the PITA, there’s one bossy, self important cow, who makes us roll our eyes, but otherwise, we rub along just fine

Like a PP though, we do struggle to get volunteers for events. People just want to stand around, drinking prosecco 🙄

PoppyFleur · 12/12/2019 06:11

Our PTA isn’t like that. The money raised goes into enhancing the children’s education, funding extras like workshops and buying iPads or laptops for use across the school. With all the recent cutbacks in education, that money is needed now more than ever. It’s visible to all parents how the money is spent so the community is generally very supportive.

It can be hard work volunteering but my philosophy is if everyone does a little then no one has to do a lot. So my experience of the PTA is positive.

kristallen · 12/12/2019 06:13

I used to work in event management btw, but wasn't the manager, more a witness to how it can be done effectively. Just can't see that happening in school conditions, except by fluke or if it's a quite small school (mine is a big one).

FettuciniAlaFagiola · 12/12/2019 06:15

It's too much give one or both roles up. I'm sure someone else will step up.

speakout · 12/12/2019 06:18

The concept of the PTA in terms of cake baking and fairs etc is just so dated. It heavily relies on women (mostly) doing a whole lot of work for nothing.


Shinnoo · 12/12/2019 06:24

I would love to be more involved in fund raising for the school. I just don't want to do it through the pta as I run my own business, single parent, etc. Committee meetings I simply cannot make. I am also interested in socialising, and want to be friendly with the school community ie local families. However the stressed out fraught and often angry mums who are volunteering their time for not much money raised doing events which are lame and no one wants to chuck 30 quid at in pound coins is actually depressing.

So both functions of the pta in my school - fundraising and socialising - are not occuring.

I have offered to run one big event ( I've got a background in event management) and been sharply turned down which is depressing, and I don't understand, if anyone could explain that to me id be grateful!

Shinnoo · 12/12/2019 06:26

Ie id just crack on with a fundraiser but not do it through the pta. Why on earth not? If it's really about fundraising to support our children in school, and not about power politics and cliquey expectations of in groups, why aren't they biting my hand off?

isitpossibleto · 12/12/2019 06:28

Never come across at PTA that isn’t cliquey and full of drama. My child goes to a tiny village school so all very close knit - the PTA there’s has a reputation for being very bitchy: I volunteer but have nothing to do beyond turning up on the day and helping out - I don’t need that extra drama

Vulpine · 12/12/2019 06:30

So scale it down. Dont put in so much effort and go to bed early!

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