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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:
fantasticalbeast · 12/12/2019 07:51


Hope you don't mind my asking - what have you done to raise £5K? ( shamelessly looking for new ideas!)

formerbabe · 12/12/2019 07:55

No good deed goes unpunished.

This is why I'll never volunteer for anything.

LeekMunchingSheepShagger · 12/12/2019 07:56

Governors shouldn’t chair a PTA due to conflict of interest. I would use that as your get out clause!

Hoppinggreen · 12/12/2019 07:56

I’m vice chair of our PTA and have been Chair and Secretary before
We all get along absolutely fine, no bitching or arguments and we are certainly not power crazed or think we are anything special.
I think what helps is that we are very diverse and none of us were friends before we joined so there are no cliques. We have parents, a teacher, a retired teacher, a grandma and a governor on the committee and we all rub along fine. New members, helpers and ideas are very welcome.
The other thing is that we all know that we are just there to raise money for the school, it’s not our social life and none of us really socialise outside the PTA apart from 1 end of term meal and 1 xmas meal. Personalities really don’t come into it, we have a job to do and that’s it
I’m sure some can be awful but it’s not something I’ve come across at our school thankfully

LazyDaisey · 12/12/2019 08:03

Ha, I was about to ask the same of @ExtraOnions. Can I also ask how large your school is? We raised less than half that, but then again it’s only a 300 pupil school. There’s another primary near us that’s twice as large, so I suppose they raise a lot more money.

mousemousse · 12/12/2019 08:03

I would happily pay a subscription to opt out of all pta events that they organise Grin

LondonMummy1987 · 12/12/2019 08:07

I'm the vice chair of my PTA, but the chair is so set in her ways she wont allow anyone to make new suggestions, as "we've done that before, it didn't work". So we are a really rubbish PTA as we hardly raise any fnds for the school. Most parents don't want to volunteer any time to help (there's only 4 of us) so I assume we have a bad reputation as not accepting new ideas so no one wants to bother offering, which is fair enough!

Loopytiles · 12/12/2019 08:07

Thing is, most people probably wouldn’t donate.

I really dislike PTA events and would!

whyamidoingthis · 12/12/2019 08:11

@Bettyswoo - They're all the same. A hotbed of people who rarely have power and their politics

No, they're not all the same. My experience is very different. I've been in one in primary and one in secondary. They were full of enthusiastic, welcoming people who worked hard to fund raise and organise events. Biggest issue was parents complaining about PA not doing certain things but not willing to do anything themselves.

Orangeblossom78 · 12/12/2019 08:11

We also had school fair recently and was struck at the amount of waste. Lots of stuff, (carefully hand made) not bought, mine you was quite expensive I thought (biscuits and cakes £2 a slice for example) I thought it seemed a lot of effort for the end result. (and yes we did spend and was ticketed as well)

happycamper11 · 12/12/2019 08:11

Our PSA as it's called (confusing as PSA is also the abbreviation here for the position of what's normal known as a TA) Is incredibly lucrative. Usually around 5k on the May fair alone and 5k per term at other times is probably accurate (the secret, I think, is over priced alcohol available at all events)

It's a fairly friendly place but the expectation of the parents as a whole is at odds with the amount who are actually willing to give up their time. They are now struggling for a chair and fear it may fold eventually. The school benefits massively so it would be a shame

Boohooyouho · 12/12/2019 08:14

Our PTA is great. There’s a core group of two/three who sit down with the head and plan when events are happening over the year. Then a message goes out a few weeks before each event asking who can help this time. If people aren’t available, then they don’t help. We recently had our last event if the year, had a large number of volunteers so the workload didn’t seem excessive and then we went to the pub for lunch to celebrate it all being over. The only thing that is annoying is people complaining about events, but won’t volunteer to help out themselves.

TeenPlusTwenties · 12/12/2019 08:18

Anyone wanting to donate and opt out.
Please be proactive on this.

Leave a cheque for the PTA at the school office with note attached saying 'Please find a donation of £X towards PTA funds for year 19-20. This is in lieu of my participating in Christmas fairs, cake sales etc. If there are any PTA dress up days my child will still participate but the required contribution is covered as part of this donation. Thank you for all you hard work.'


JinglingHellsBells · 12/12/2019 08:18

Coming from a slightly different angle, as a parent of grown up DCs, I found school fairs a total waste of time. I hated going because the stalls were mainly full of tat or local crafts people pushing up their prices for kids to spend their money on. I didn't want to buy cakes made under dubious hygiene conditions (perhaps), or down market toys / gifts. As PPs said I'd rather have donated a tenner a year and been done with it. I think the whole concept of how schools raise money needs re-thinking and I'm saying this as a retired teacher.

Stillfunny · 12/12/2019 08:21

In primary school the PTA was notorious ! Tantrums , resignations ,drama and real " Mean Girl " stuff. Even their DDs got involved - hmm, just realised all had girls at school. So glad I avoided it.
In Secondary , I did get involved. Just focused on fundraising in a very low key way and facilitated events within school. One year , computers were much needed to replace obsolete ones. We decided to just ASK. Sent a one off request , outlining lack of government funding and needs of Computer Lab. Suggested a sum , but stressed that any donation was gratefully received. Response was great .We got donations varying between £10 and £100s. One parent who saw the letter got in touch to offer to broker a deal to get cost price.
I think most people appreciated not having to attend anything and being told exactly what the funds were for that would benefit all.

JeansNTees · 12/12/2019 08:23

One of DC's schools does a school lottery through Your School Lottery and an Amazon Smile account instead of all of this. It works well I believe. I agree that PTA seems a lot like just another thing to add to the mental load of mums, an old fashioned wifework task.

Damntheman · 12/12/2019 08:25

Ours works well but that's likely a result of the Norwegian cultural assumption that people will pitch in and work together. It's very different to britain.

Why are there no dads on your PTA?

namestar · 12/12/2019 08:30

Our school has just raised £3k at the school Christmas fayre last week. We have a sub-group for fundraising within the PTA. We don't have governors as school is in Scotland.
Additional to that are the Easter and Halloween discos, gala day activities, movie night and a ladies night.

In total, we raise around £6k for a school with 400 pupils. What we have found works best is a dedicated group of around 20 parents and teachers who communicate to the rest of the school through our active (and well moderated) Facebook page. Thankfully it is used positively and no nonsense is tolerated.

BanoffeeTart · 12/12/2019 08:49

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeithWalk · 12/12/2019 08:54

If government funding was adequate we wouldn't need to raise funds to support our children's education. The more we do it, the more we cover the gaps left by years of austerity.

cafenoirbiscuit · 12/12/2019 08:57

Ours was a toxic nightmare, with lots of Alpha mummies vying for the top slot. Our class didn’t even have a rep because whoever it was was endlessly bitched about, and nobody would volunteer for it.
Youngest is now at senior school. No PTA. Bliss.

Milicentbystander72 · 12/12/2019 09:00

I'm a Secondary School Governor, and blimey - it's HUGE amount of work. I don't know how you're managing both but fats off to you.

In Primary I never contemplated joining the PTA. I wasn't considered 'local' as I'd only lived in my city for 20 years and only in that catchment for 8 years. My face didn't fit. In the whole time at Primary I never even knew who the PTA chair was and was never asked to join.

I chose a completely different Secondary to the rest of the Primary pupils. I made an active decision to get involved.

We do have a fund raising arm at Secondary, it's fabulous. Extremely welcoming, not at all bitchy. Selfless people who go the extra mile and stay extra long. Since becoming a Governor I dip in and out of it (time constraints) and there's no issue with this.

On the whole I've found Secondary much more community minded and inclusive - or maybe it's just that I've personally found 'my tribe'


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BanoffeeTart · 12/12/2019 09:02

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theWarOnPeace · 12/12/2019 09:08

Our PTA has many of the worst traits mentioned already. It’s full of white middle-class mums, and many of them work, so there’s endless moaning about being put upon and overstretched.

No dads whatsoever, either in the PTA or on the board, and they don’t even target them for recruitment. The only times any of the PTA mums have ever given me the time of day, is when they’re enthusiastically encouraging me to help them with something. After that, you start to say hello and they mysteriously see something off in the distance and ignore you!

I asked a few times, while being badgered into doing something, if anyone was ever going to approach my husband?? He does about 70% of pick up and drop offs, is friendly and cheerful, and has done plenty of other things around school before, like helped the caretaker in an emergency, he helps on sports day (PTA don’t recruit for that) Etc etc. He’s not never there or unapproachable. He has NEVER ever been asked to do anything for or to join the PTA. I feel like I’m constantly harassed and pleaded with to join. Please can I bake? Please can I help tidy up after a fundraiser? Please can I run a coffee morning? It all just feels like 1950s wifework to me, and I’m not having it.

The money they raise is spent on crap, too. All of the children get a load of plastic shite for Christmas, bearing in mind we are a school in an extremely wealthy catchment area, and everyone is apparently so environmentally conscious. I think they should put their pastoral care person to good use, and identify children who actually won’t get anything for Christmas, and buy them something nice (on top of supporting the family, of course).

The money raised for teachers at Christmas is usually around the £500 per teacher mark, same at the end of the year. Yes. £500 for the teacher and usually about £250 for the TA. I have suggested we do away with that, do away with the plastic tat presents, and ask for that money to be donated to the school for actual school things. Then we wouldn’t have all this agonising and martyring all year. But, no. It’s mainly a no for our PTA because the martyred mums get a kick out of feeling superior to everyone else, so they need to keep a balance of doing “too much” and everyone else not doing enough.

I know all of this because I’ve tried my best to help and respond to their requests but they weirdly don’t want me to. They harass you to do stuff, but then don’t let you actually do anything or get properly involved. You’re allowed to sweep up crumbs or chuck out the rubbish, but even something they ask you to manage or run, you end up doing with an alpha mum hovering over you trying to take over and get you on recycling duty.

It’s like having an annoying narc MIL over at Christmas, making noises about you not doing much, but refusing actual proper help!

inwood · 12/12/2019 09:12

Our school has now set up a voluntary £10 per month fund. £10 per family on standing order. It's got around an 80% take up. So much less stressful.

They still host one big event a year but its a small school and things like the summer and Christmas fair took so much organising for not much return.

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