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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:
cherish123 · 14/12/2019 01:20

The problem with PTA/Parent Council/Governors
is that they are usually in it for themselves. I also find that when it comes to volunteering, it's usually left to the full time working parents. You often find that non-working parents rarely volunteer.

squeekums · 14/12/2019 04:41

we do struggle to get volunteers for events. People just want to stand around, drinking prosecco

yep cos i left school I dont need the drama of grown women who still act as if they in schools popular group.

We a small rural school, very generational community. We not from here originally so we are automatically looked down on, cast aside as blow ins who will leave, i havent married a farmer so the PTA (read farmers wives club) ignore, i get the side eye if i enter school grounds.
And then they call out for help, money and volunteers, screw that.

Even DD has started pulling out of things cos she sick of how they run and some kids are favoured cos of a last name.
Sports day we watched a parent move finishing lines on long jump so her DD won, like she did for every event the kid was in and she could 'help' out on. If we said anything, who do you think would have been the bad guy? The blow in calling out a wrong, or a farmers wife whos family is woven into the towns history?

lyralalala · 14/12/2019 05:08

I think PTAs fall into two categories- well organised and brilliant, or cliquey nightmares

I’ve never worked in a school, or been involved with my own kids schools, and found a PTA that was just alright bumbling along. They are always one end or the other

A lot of the time it depends on the Head Teacher as well. How they treat the PTA can often be a huge factor in how they act. In my DS’s last school the HT thought the chair of the PTA was the second coming of Christ as they were friends outside of the school. This gave the Chair a very over inflated sense of importance and as a result the PTA was one of those ones that every one avoided.

In the current school it’s a really good PTA. The core committee work together well based on their actual skills. They are very open to other parents input regardless if that’s ideas or time. There’s no clique

They also have a good relationship with the school so what the money raised is spent on is discussed properly and actually benefits the kids rather than being one person’s idea. The Head is also very clear with parents that being on the PTA means you might get a cup of tea at a meeting, but doesn’t mean anything in regard of your child’s place in the football club queue, or their role in the Christmas show, so the parents who would volunteer from that angle don’t as it’s pointless

This PTA is also one of the first I’ve been involved in that doesn’t treat our Dad member as a hero. He’s just another parent, which is good because in the last school the PTA chair treated the solo dad member like he’d cured the school funding issues by himself and fawned over him when he suggested things that she’d scorned other people for suggesting

MadMadaMim · 14/12/2019 05:42

Governor and PTA Chair - I tried that too.

Too much

One or the other

I stepped down as PTA Chair (and continued to be active and do my bit) and focused on Governing body.

FWIW - any role in the PTA is a thankless one. Lots of complainers. Lots of people not turning up. Lots of bebatice criticism - usually by those who never help out. .

B U T without the PTA, school social calendar would be non existent.
It is what it is.

MsTSwift · 14/12/2019 05:56

“In it for themselves” is quite funny. It’s a thankless largely shit job. I made friends for life doing it though. We look back and laugh now at how shit it was. Pleased that phase of life now over!

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland · 14/12/2019 06:20

The problem with the whole concept of PTAs is the type of fundraising they typically do is low return in investment. School fairs, balls, quiz nights etc, require lots of people to give a lot of time & incur quite a bit of cost to put on, so the money actually raised as profit is always disappointing.

It would honestly be better if the PTA went round the playground once a month simply asking parents to pay up. Less time, zero outlay, and many parents would happily tip up to avoid having to go to school quiz night or whatever!!

Bluebell246 · 14/12/2019 06:47

I really appreciate the work done by PTAs and I recognise it's often a thankless task. I've helped out a few times when I could but often I couldn't because I had other commitments. I find the critical comments about other parents not stepping up quite off putting. It's voluntary which means you don't have to do it if you don't want to or can't. There may be numerous reasons why some parents don't get involved. Judging them is not going to persuade them to participate.

MsTSwift · 14/12/2019 06:51

Would never judge for not volunteering. Will totally judge for moaning about said event and treating volunteers like shit. Dh flipping burgers one year some parents complained about having to wait and then didn’t say “thank you” when given their food Hmm

Hepsibar · 14/12/2019 06:57

This is an interesting topic, thank you for raising.

My experience of a member of the PTA, called "Friends of .... School" was a good one. We had a Chair, but the Head or Deputy always attended the meetings.

We raised a lot of money and organised many events thru the year and we were usually raising money for a specific item which might take 3 years and even though sometimes children had left, parents felt they were leaving a legacy for the next pupils and parents. Sometimes the Friends raised money for charities eg thru Harvest Fest or specific events.

Every parent/carer or even ex parent/carer was considered a friend. Some were v good at organising discos, fetes, fayre, dinner dance and, some organised half termly cake stalls, some helped make costumes for performances, some helped with the newsletter, some helped with gardening, some did voluntary reading.

It was a marvellous school and I look back with the dearest memories. I think a member of staff being there probably stopped any of the silliness you mention.

lyralalala · 14/12/2019 07:06

I think a member of staff being there probably stopped any of the silliness you mention.

Sometimes the staff are part of the problem

Especially in schools where the SLT allow the children to be impacted by their parents involvement in the PTA. Either by favouring them, or the opposite where they try so hard not to favour them they miss them out of everything.

thenewaveragebear1983 · 14/12/2019 07:18

I'm chair of our PTA, I didn't want to be but the existing chair stepped down so myself and another lady (who I happen to work with as well) got essentially railroaded into being chair and secretary. I think we're doing well- we're approachable, we're professional, we've turned lots of things out to the parents (eg asking for feedback, asking for volunteers etc) and have had a great first term in office. We doubled our raffle ticket sales, doubled our number of members etc.

As a result, the previous chair is now launching some kind of hate campaign against me. She turns her back on me, refuses to speak to me, she's still on the committee but then undermines me constantly (such as giving tickets away to her friends for ticket only events, hiding tombola prizes so kids were picking tickets and the prizes weren't there!) - I could go on.

I despise the politics. I hate confrontation. I'm only bloody doing this because she stepped down and you'd have thought I'd hounded her out of her chair. I think some people take these things far too seriously.

Littlecaf · 14/12/2019 07:49

Three of my close ‘mum’ friends run our PTA. It’s not at all nasty and they are really grateful for any help! One of them is a professional charity fundraiser so that helps. They are co chairs but I think she runs it really and is very successful at it. They have a three year cycle on the Committee so nobody gets lumbered with it for the whole of their child’s school life.

Two of my friends are also parent governors and both genuinely have the schools best interests at heart and not their parents own. Some people are generally community spirited and not everyone is in it for the themselves.

AndwhenyougetthereFoffsomemore · 14/12/2019 08:16

I think as some other posters have said it's total luck of the draw depending on the dominant characters in the PTA, and how well they are integrated into school strategy (so money is spent wisely): I've been in two which were hard work but essentially joyous; one which was OK but a bit disfunctional, and one that was an absolute car crash and I escaped as quick as I could - totally due to the personalities involved in all cases.

bemusedmoose · 14/12/2019 11:03

All committees are the same, I've been on a few over the years and there are two sets of people that do these things - those there for the greater good wanting to help the masses and then the other side who are on a power trip and have to have a finger in all pies as a source of power and control. Sadly the power hungery never get on with the ones there for the greater good and pick arguments, the greater good sort try and put up with it til they snap.

Basically I find these situations show that many adults never left the playground. It's like dealing with giant toddlers. It's exactly the reason I won't join these things anymore. The amount of tantrums, threatening to leave everyone in the shit if they don't get their way... Just too much hellish manipulation for me.

Having said that they do raise valuable funds and I know our school wouldnt have any equipment with out them

Bigbopboo · 14/12/2019 11:25

I feel sorry for our PTA. They can't do anything right at the moment. Any suggestion that their critics maybe attend meetings and get involved is immediately shot down. I remember one mum even using the phrase 'those who are fortunate to have the time to attend the meetings!'

Mimilamore · 14/12/2019 17:33

Stood down from pure in Sept as retiring in May. I am so glad to be out of it!!!
21 years of dealing with all the issues you mentioned.
This year the Christmas Fair had to be scaled down and the grotto abandoned because of in fighting....
They can get along without me crowd controlling now!

LoadOfBaubles · 14/12/2019 17:42

Our PTA is literally just one —batshit— woman, her adult daughter and a couple of her long suffering hangers on with the occasional poor sucker (usually new to the school) roped in to help.

Batshit manages to piss every other parent off and people tend to help out once, realise it’s not worth the drama and quietly back away forever more.

I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. Especially not with a full time job and as a Governor, OP. Can’t you just sack it off?

Dontpaintitgrey · 14/12/2019 17:45

You sound quite nice and reasonable but but the two School Governors/PTA members I know are a pair of absolute busy body, small town minded c*nts. And that’s putting it mildly. So this does not surprise me.

Doyoumind · 14/12/2019 18:05

My experience hasn't been of a clique. Ours is working parents with other commitments but who want to make a difference by raising money in a way the children and community enjoy, as PPs have said. Just getting a donation doesn't have the same benefits. The money we raise is needed and spent carefully. It isn't completely free of politics but we're quite organised and successful and get on well together. No alpha mums or egos. I don't think people realise quite how much work is involved though.

I don't think it's sensible to be a governor too though. Too much of a commitment and potential conflict of interests.

Pinkshoelace · 14/12/2019 18:13

I sympathise with you OP, I know you are trying and your heart is in the right place.

At the same time, I understand why parents sometimes get fed up with it. There are a lot of demands on the family purse, especially around Christmas time and additional PTA events can feel like a real burden.

The women I know on our PTA are wonderful, but I do sometimes wish they'd scale right down. I wince internally when I see there is yet another seasonally themed fair because as a parent they are a massive pain in the arse. Queuing up with half the school to buy plastic tat I don't want or for my child to compete in games for more plastic tat. I don't think one person in one hundred enjoys them, and they never seem to make much money.

eeyore228 · 14/12/2019 18:39

Our PTA works well. We don’t have many volunteers and it’s the same people. It does however work well, I think it depends on personality but they can work. It’s not fun when people argue and forget the purpose of the whole thing. Hopefully you can sort it because it can work and work well.

hotcrossbun83 · 14/12/2019 19:50

Ours is really friendly and achieves a lot. No bitching, but there was an affair last year that caused a lot of drama! I enjoy it most of the time but it does irritate me a bit that I do lots and work full time, while all the sahp says they don’t have time to help


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Soffy · 15/12/2019 13:24

This attitude that the SAHP's should be helping really pisses me off. You have no idea what they're commitments are , and even if you did it does not mean to say they have to volunteer on the PTA. Maybe they just dont want too. It's not obligatory.

CallmeAngelina · 15/12/2019 13:30

The staff at my school are gradually downing tools and becoming unavailable for events now. Fewer and fewer parents are involved with helping, so the feeling on the staff is that if they can't be arsed to fund-raise for their own children's benefit, why the hell should we? Our job spec has magnified hugely over the years since PTAs started running, and something has to give.

PeachyPeachTrees · 16/12/2019 14:15

We have 2 Mums sharing PTA chair role. There are other set roles held by Mums and Dads. The Headteacher attends the termly meetings. Different parents head the different events, delegating works well. Parents and Y6 pupils run stalls and games. It's not clique-y or bitchy but it is hard work and a thankless task. The school says thanks but the parents who never volunteer look down their nose at volunteers, like they are a stupid lower species. We have a large Primary school of about 600 pupils and raise an enormous £25K per year. We see where the money goes and it seems to be spend wisely and benefits the pupils greatly.

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