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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:
Toddlerteaplease · 12/12/2019 09:14

@Soffy imma nurse and each ward has to raise £1000 a year for the children's hospital charity. It's ridiculous, we just have endless cake sales and people are starting to resent having to do it. As we already work bloody hard as it is. They'll be wanting our blood next.

Waveysnail · 12/12/2019 09:15

You need a good chair, treasurer and secretary. Principal is very involved with our so keeps everyone in line

TheOrigFV45 · 12/12/2019 09:17

Our PTA is fine. They work hard. I was on it when DS1 was at school, but now I just offer to help at events when I can.

TeenPlusTwenties · 12/12/2019 09:22

PTAs are run by volunteers who might not always have the mix of skills and experience needed to make it all run smoothly. Because people are volunteers they can just walk if they're not happy.

Furthermore they are balancing fund raising with making fun events for the children.

Then they need to look at the demographic, making sure things are affordable for the less well off families whilst simultaneously extracting as much cash as they can from the more affluent families.

It is a very fine balancing act.

WellTidy · 12/12/2019 09:22

I did a great deal of PTA things for the seven years that DS1 was in primary school. Spent loads of time on it, it was a massive commitment. It was the same few of us doing everything though, despite many other parents being in a position to help and just not wanting to. We were desperate for others to help, always asked for help, never turned anyone away and were grateful for all contributions, . The children enjoyed the events that were put on for them and it was worth it for that.

I was gutted when a mum came to help at an event, the first time she’d come, in DS’ last year of primary. Said that she wasn’t sure whether to come or not as she had been warned off coming by people (none of whom had ever contributed any help but wanted thyroid children to participate in the events paid on) who had said that the PTA was very cliquey and not a nice bunch of people and that there was no point bothering. It was like a kick in the gut. I get upset when I think about it now and it was nearly a year ago. Ds is now at secondary and I’ve vowed not to do any PTA stuff, it’s just not worth it.

SpiderCharlotte · 12/12/2019 09:23

Of course they're not all the same, how a PP can declare that, I don't know.

When mine were in lower school, I was on the PTA for 6 years. They were a brilliant bunch of parents, had some great events, raised loads of money and we had a laugh doing it. Fast forward a couple of years and one of my closest friends (who I met on the PTA) is now Chair of the same PTA and is having a fucking nightmare. Arguing, bitching, constant no shows for events etc. She's literally at the end of her tether with it and I don't blame her. I just depends on the people you get at the time.

DontDribbleOnTheCarpet · 12/12/2019 09:25

I tried with ours, but I found it so frustrating. Where I live can be a bit Royston Vasey, and I am Not Local. The chair of the PTA would ignore me when I spoke (he would literally pretend that nobody had spoken) and would only address his profound remarks to my husband (Who to be fair to him, would just say "I don't know, why don't you ask Don't? She's the one who had the idea/made the suggestion").

I consider myself excused from all sorts of school-related helping now- not just because of the PTA, but that experience was part of it and it's quite clear to me that my help is neither required nor welcome.

Calledyoulastnightfromglasgow · 12/12/2019 09:27

Ours is lovely. Raise thousands for the massively underfunded school. Lovely people. I am not in charge though - I just help when I can.

I think it depends a lot of the people!

Hoppinggreen · 12/12/2019 09:29

thewaronpeace that sounds awful.
We would never buy anything for teachers from PTA funds. Everything we contribute is for curriculum enrichment, so each head of year asks us for an amount up to £300 to pay for something to support the curriculum, usually a visiting “expert “ or a trip somewhere. We also pay for Leavers Hoodies and have another fund that can be applied for for emergencies. If we were raising money for gifts there’s no way I would be involved.

ohtheholidays · 12/12/2019 09:31

I've always been one of the first to offer to help,weather it's for the local schools,churches,community what ever it was for but the PTA no way,I'd seen what it had done to my poor few friends that agreed to it so I stayed well away.

I do appreciate them though and I know that they do a bloody amazing job and without much thanks so I've always made sure I've supported whatever they've done with lots and lots of money and I've helped tidy up afterwards.

Tomorrowillbeachicken · 12/12/2019 09:41

Ours was very cliquey. I avoided them like the plague.

reluctantbrit · 12/12/2019 09:42

I found it really depends on the people running it.

Our primary PTA was in general quite good but I stopped even being on the volunteer bank as they often called for people and then didn't assign tasks, openly talked about now having too many and not being clear about timing.

They also only held meetings during the day, excluding lots of working parents with valuable skills and funds. I volunteered for 4 years with the NCT and we managed to hold meeting solely in the evening unless it is was a smaller group and everyone managed to be available during the day.

I was later on the committee organising the Y6 leavers party and yearbook. After that I am totally and utterly fed up with any kind of group which is run just with parents. After 9 months I knew exactly who are your friends and who are the enemies.

I now volunteer with DD's scout group and it is a relief dealing with the leaders and not parents.

Kuponut · 12/12/2019 09:45

Done three years on the PTA, also a parent governor and a regular volunteer in the school hearing readers/sticking things in books/anything needing to be done that I can do.

I've just done my last event on the PTA before I stepped back as I have other things in life needing to take priority. Ours has always been fantastic, no more cliquey than the school gates generally and was a good way for me to get to know people when we were new to the school and the events that it puts on are genuinely enjoyable and I've made some good connections doing it.

On a good year we make around £3-5k off all the events we run... last year was a tougher one in terms of involvement as a big core of the old guard's kids left the school - so that's the one thing I'd mention to other PTAs on here - succession and transition planning.

Ours is very very clear that they fund the nice extra stuff and not the stuff the school budget should be covering.

Notso · 12/12/2019 10:08

Ours is fine, everyone very friendly and sociable but it only has three core members and about 8 other parents who help at events.
Every event has multiple complaints from parents who want things done better don't want to help achieve that.
I can't see we will continue at this rate, not one parent from the new intakes in the last three years has joined or volunteered for anything. The youngest child of a PTA member is year 3. We've tried and suggested many ways to get people to join but either they're met with silence or school won't support.
Several toddler groups have closed due to lack of parent volunteers and of course parents are now moaning they have nowhere to go, all because nobody would cut up a bit of fruit, wash the cups or tidy some toys.

BanoffeeTart · 12/12/2019 10:25

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ukholidaysaregreat · 12/12/2019 10:40

You are doing too much. That is why you are exhausted. Having kids is a full time job. Having a full time job is a full time job. Running the PTA could easily turn into a full time job. Give yourself a Christmas break! 🌲🍷

ScrimshawTheSecond · 12/12/2019 10:41

The PTA often seem to enjoy putting in TONNES of unnecessary work. And beetle drives.

I do the parent council, instead.

ScrimshawTheSecond · 12/12/2019 10:43

Banoffee, I think it's a much more sensible idea to just ask direct for money. I'd be so much happier to pass over £20 and not have to do another tombola, ever.

But there are some parents who'd struggle to find extra cash, so I suppose it's to try and make it more equitable?

LazyDaisey · 12/12/2019 10:56

To all those suggesting to just ask for money instead of activities... it doesn’t work. Our school asks for the governor’s fund, which covers only equipment that the school needs (and can’t afford to buy thanks to our government). They even ask for a nominal amount every term instead of a lump sum yearly contribution. But it doesn’t raise nearly the same amount as a Fayre.

Bluewavescrashing · 12/12/2019 11:23

I have to say there's a huge amount of waste associated with school fundraising. Piles of tat as prizes for the various games. Hundreds of metres of wrapping paper for the Christmas shopping event (we have 14 classes in our school, most children bought at least 3 presents). Things like mugs, soft toys, ornaments etc as presents that most families have too much of. Sweets individually wrapped in plastic by the kilo.

I don't think most parents enjoy the fayre. Children do as they like the novelty of it.

Booboostwo · 12/12/2019 11:42

We tried asking for a voluntary donation of 5 euros for the year, assuming that the majority of parents who ignore our pleas for help would prefer to do this instead...we were inundated with complaints. How dare we assume everyone can afford to donate 5 euros?! We are violating the public (as in state funded) school's principles! We are discriminating against poorer families... We gave up and went back to organizing all the events with a handful of people.

For our vide grenier (car boot sale) I started work at 6am and left at 19:30 without a single break. We made 1,500 euros and it's our most profitable event, but to be honest the profit margins are small for the work involved.

This year we organized a social event for all the school, a picnic and treasure hunt, to encourage more people to joint the PTA and feel included and it still didn't work.

icantbecani · 12/12/2019 11:45

To be honest the more of you that get involved the better pta you will have. The pta at my school is nothing like this, it's really well supported and regularly raises over £20k a year (sometimes much more). Yes everyone knows that cake sales are a complete waste of money as it costs more to bake the cakes than they are sold for but the kids love it. We have circuses, massive summer fates that the whole community comes to, great Christmas fairs, Christmas tree sales, etc etc. The school is involved in what the money is spent on so our children all benefit. Virtually everyone volunteers in some way or another (including the mums of 5 and the full time workers). It's great and directly benefits our own children. The head, teachers and governors are properly involved so the whole thing works like a well oiled machine. Large sums of expenditure are put to vote.


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icantbecani · 12/12/2019 11:46

We have dad's on our pta too.

ShinyGiratina · 12/12/2019 11:59

Our PTA is a core of three essential roles that then pull in a wider crowd to support.
I'm not an organiser so wouldn't want to be on the committee, but I do help run stalls including set-up/ take down. It is definitely the same faces who you know are likely to help out. It was ever thus that those who put in the least are the most likely to complain, be that the PTA, Guiding, Sounting...

The value of events like the fayres is that they enhance the school community in addition to the fundraising. We do a non-uniform day for £1 or a cake donation. With 2 DCs, I spend a bit more on making cakes, but the PFA get a better return on them. (With cakes, the basic cake isn't bad on cost/benefit, but be careful about the costs of decorating)

Some year groups are much more involved than others. One of my DCs is in a very hands-off year, the other in a very let's-muck-in group that mixes and matches well.

RicStar · 12/12/2019 12:03

I have recently become involved with the pta it is a lot of work in the background and nothing just happens. We do raise quite a bit of money and are looking at direct contributions but the kids do like the events too and part of it is trying to maintain a sense of community around the school. Of course lots of people dont want to be involved and that is fine. I believe people would miss it if there were no pta activities but may be they would not.

We would love to be more diverse, have more parents involved, but even recruiting people/ putting fund raising systems in place, collecting and banking money it's all stuff that has to be done by someone if it happens.

I do it mostly because I can, it buys mostly useful stuff for the school and my kids like the events. The people are fine - busy but welcoming. I feel for you OP it's hard and not always appreciated.

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