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AIBU?

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:
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bengalcat · 12/12/2019 06:34

YANBU .

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Procrastination4 · 12/12/2019 06:38

last week we raised £1300 at our Christmas Fair...

We used to have a Christmas Fair run by our Parents’ Assiciation-a lot of hard work by them in the few weeks leading up to it, and then the day itself (first Sunday in December usually) was a long, tiring one.

We changed tactics three years ago and now we have it during the school day(I’m not in England -we probably have a bit more flexibility!) and the stalls are manned by our Sixth Class pupils. A number of Parents’ Association members come in on the day but their job is to man the hot chocolate and cookie stall. We’ve reduced the workload considerably for the Parents’ Association, and, as we got rid of the Bric-a-Brac stand, we also got rid of a major sorting headache and “what do we do with the leftover stuff” headache.

The takings haven’t been really affected-we made €2300 (around £1940) approximately , this year. Far less effort for everyone and the children love the day!

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user1471530109 · 12/12/2019 06:38

Grin I can assure you that it is not a clique at all. In fact, it's a brand new committee this year as the previous committee's DC have left.

No, we don't fund mother's Day gifts. The gifts are bought and sold as a fundraising event. It's a popular annual thing that I understand all the local schools do. I'm new to the area (2 years) and it certainly wasn't a thing I had come across before.

The pta are not a bunch of friends that have all joined en masse. Like I said, I'm not around at pick up etc. Having been a non pta member previously, there wasn't this clique business. It's a bizarre cohort of parents that from the outside live in an idyllic area, have mostly lovely lives (from outside) and DC go to a tiny rural school. But having been here a couple of years, I've never come across such mean spirited individuals (of course, in a tiny school a few make a big difference). There in the past has been protest to avoid all pta fundraising after the pta had said it hadn't the funds to contribute as much to a yr6 leavers event. The irony. They were invited and reminded to come along to the next meeting to give their suggestions Wink.

I think our pta will fold at the end of the year or will do over the next couple of years. The impact will then be noticed (and of course moaned about). Our pta has funded laptops, iPads, trips, equipment etc in the past 2 years. Plus the kids like the events organised. Its a real shame. I only joined up as I was new to the area and wanted to make friends Blush so followed advice on here.

Most of the people doing the boycotting and moaning are parents who had been on the pta previously. It's more of a 'done our bit 5-10 years ago so don't need to' rather than 'support as we know what it's like'. I am generalising and thinking about a particular group/clique

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user1471530109 · 12/12/2019 06:41

Shinno I promise we'd bite your arm off Grin

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Lysianthus · 12/12/2019 06:50

Years ago when DD was younger I joined our PTA and was asked to make cakes. I spent a ridiculous amount of time making 48 cupcakes, which probably cost about £15 because of icing etc. The lovely but dim cake stall mum sold them for 20p each. I donated the cash the following year.

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Zoeyclash · 12/12/2019 06:51

I'm not in the UK so apologies if this is a stupid question.... Does the 'T' in PTA stand for 'teacher's? Are teachers also part of the association or is it just parents?

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Panicmode1 · 12/12/2019 06:53

I have 4 children at 3 different schools and have done various roles within the PTAs at all of them, at various times over the years. My experiences have been broadly positive, with collaboration and support from the PTA members and school staff. The biggest moans always come from parents who never help, never come to meetings (or respond to the questionnaires sent out for those who can't make meetings) but always think they could do better.

Our (secondary) school fair last weekend has made almost £15k for the school. It took a huge team effort but in the current climate, every £ counts, and we had a lot of fun putting it together.

I do think you must be a glutton for punishment being a governor and the PTA chair. Surely you can relinquish one of those roles?!

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countrygirl99 · 12/12/2019 06:53

I did about 10 years on various PTAs. Most were fine but 1 school was a nightmare. If, as a PP suggested we had responded to other parents wants we would have been supplying 24 hour child care, with food for free and they would probably still have moaned. That was the PTA where every single person on the committee worked full time but when we asked for volunteers to hand out so e leaflets at school pick the response was often to ask why we couldn't take time off to do it ourselves.

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ExtraOnions · 12/12/2019 06:55

I chair our PTA, and I’m a governor ... no nastiness, bitching or infighting, we have a mix of men & women, of parents and grandparents. Recently had the Christmas Fair, and yes it is a lot of organising, but most people just had one or two tasks, so hopefully nobody felt over-burdened.
We have raised around £5k this term, all of which will be used for a variety of things around school

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DrPimplePopper · 12/12/2019 06:58

Our PTA seems to consist of 1 bolshy busy-body woman whose son is in Reception with mine so I don't get to avoid her as much as I'd like. We seem to be constantly harassed for money/time and usually nobody tells us how the money is donated is being used. So far just this half term (so about 5 weeks?) I've donated over £10 in terms of toys, non-uniform days, made cakes, bought a box of chocolate, bring a bottle etc just for 1 child, and this time had a letter saying it was used to bring a panto performance into school. They didn't even perform for my son's year group. So for a better PTA I'd say clearer communication and proceeds, and ensure it's something all children will benefit from. Also donations of toys or boxes of chocolate are very nice for the tombola, but that's £3-4 per child potentially - a £1 or 50p donation cap would be better - especially at this time of year!

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trixgus · 12/12/2019 07:01

I’m chair of the PTA at a small school. There are essentially 2 of us who do the majority of the work, and another 2 who do what they can and volunteer to help on the day of events.
This year we are doing the Christmas fair during the school day so parents cannot attend. This is after our summer fair where a small number of parents behaved badly which culminated in my poor father (who was there helping as we didn’t have enough volunteers) being threatened with being shot for asking a child to vacate the bouncy castle!
However, the kids love the events we put on and we have funded lots of extra activities which wouldn’t be possible without our money. It is a hell of a lot of work though!

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speakout · 12/12/2019 07:04

I wouldl rather donate directly to school funds rather than have all the fuss of the fundraising.
It's the parents that end up contributing anyway.
An optional yearly donation would be far preferable, it's up front and transparent and without all the effort.

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BammBamm · 12/12/2019 07:05

I agree. I went to a few meetings, felt ignored, ridiculed and put on. I stopped attending and responding to requests.

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hen10 · 12/12/2019 07:06

YANBU at all. One of the most stressful points in my life was chairing a PTA whilst my youngest was at home. Packed all that in to go back to work and frankly, working is easier! Vowed never to get involved again - I'd rather work a few more hours and write them a cheque.

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ISaySteadyOn · 12/12/2019 07:18

I think it really depends. I'm the secretary of our PTA and while I get on fine with the other parents, we're not friends really. We treat each other as colleagues working together for a common aim which seems to work fine. So I don't think PTAs are always a nightmare.

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RedRec · 12/12/2019 07:27

I used to be a school governor and that was quite enough for me. How the hell do you do both?! Give yourself a break, OP and give up one or the other.

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hoxtonbabe · 12/12/2019 07:28

I avoided it like the plague in primary, now ds is in secondary and no one seems particularly interested I thought I’d join as they are struggling to recruit. I bloody regret every moment of it and before it has even started I have backed out.

The politics and disorganisation of it all has basically made me switch off from the whole thing which is a Shame as they were struggling to find members and then when they did they, basically had no interest in including us.

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BriefDisaster · 12/12/2019 07:30

Our PTA are a decent bunch there are a few characters and every year there are the over enthusiastic p1 mums who all join then gradually disappear when it becomes clear they actually have to do stuff but in general its all good.

They run the school discos, xmas/summer fetes and other fundraising activities (parent lottery etc.) Funds raised pay for a variety of things including new school equipment, taking the children to the local pantomime, selection boxes at the christmas parties and lots more besides.

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PleaseNoFortnite · 12/12/2019 07:32

It's not so bad at the peripheries I think? I was a class rep for the PTA for a bit and it was fine, although still quite a bit of work, but I only worked PT at the time so not so bad.

We had one lovely set of organisers, who were very fair and would calm things down and politely but firmly tell people what to do and acknowledge everyone's contribution and enthusiasm. Then they left, and the women that took over were also lovely, but didn't really seem to know how to manage a team, which caused a few rifts.

As someone who could just dip in to school life it usually didn't bother me, but I could see some people getting upset.

It did also bother me that in a multicultural area with pockets of deprivation, the PTA were almost exclusively a particular demographic. I really thought more could be done to bring other groups in.

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Loopytiles · 12/12/2019 07:33

You’re a single parent and work FT: PTA isn’t a good use of your time IMO!

It’s just wifework.

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BlaueLagune · 12/12/2019 07:36

I wouldl rather donate directly to school funds rather than have all the fuss of the fundraising. It's the parents that end up contributing anyway. An optional yearly donation would be far preferable, it's up front and transparent and without all the effort

I was thinking the same speakout. I see one school raised £15,000 at a fair so that would be hard to replicate, but if you eg have a school of 300 kids and everyone gives £15 a year, that's a nice chunk of extra money for the school. Those who are on lower incomes could make smaller donations and/or donate once a term instead of once a year to spread the load.

I was a school governor for 8 years and that wasn't too bad although sometimes I did go home from meetings feeling quite frustrated. But I would never have darkened the doors of a PTA meeting.

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TeenPlusTwenties · 12/12/2019 07:38

I'm on my 11th year of PTA-ing.

PTAs are great when there is a small focussed committee with the same values/outlook. They are hell when they get too large or have people with very differing (i.e. conflicting) approaches.

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PineappleDanish · 12/12/2019 07:39

I've been in the PTA on and off for 10 years ish and have never seen any bitching, squabbling or stealing!

Everyone on our PTA works, it's about a 50/50 split between full and part time working. The main issue we have is out of a school of almost 400, we get half a dozen parents turning up to help. The rest are quite happy to bitch on social media about what's happening or not happening, but won't actually step up to help.

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Beautiful3 · 12/12/2019 07:40

I joined our pta when my first started school. It was basically 3 women in charge of everything good and we extras could do the hard work! I couldn't attend one meeting because I visited my mil (dying in a hospice). The 3 women ignored me at school so I decided to withdraw. Agree it's a lot of voluntary hard work. Also I didn't realise that I'd be expected to source childcare so that I was available to work whole activities/events. I assumed I'd be able to bring children with me and take turns to work a couple of hours...silly me!

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Ragwort · 12/12/2019 07:50

I’ve been on four different PTAs, we moved a lot, yes they can be challenging but overall my experience has been positive and I’ve enjoyed working with a group of like minded people with a common aim. The group I was with at Primary School meet up for the occasional meal even though our DC are now at uni.

But I agree that most of the negative comments come from people outside the PTA, who are all far too busy (or important) Hmm to help at events yet are the first to criticise.

But you get these attitudes in every single volunteering organisation from PTA, to Cubs & Brownies, sports clubs, WI, Church, local councils etc etc etc. I actually work in an organisation now which involves a lot of volunteers - it is very challenging Grin.

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