10 Great Ideas to take your next PTA meeting
Sunday 5th September 2010 2 Comments
I am a great believer that a school is only as good as its PTA, and by PTA I mean YOU.
Most kids are now back at school and I am willing to bet that the majority of schools, if not all, will have their first PTA meeting of the school year at some point within the next few weeks.
Last year was my first experience of PTA meetings and I can tell you that I was completely shocked at the incredibly low turn out. There are around 500 children in geeky daughter’s larger than average primary school, and yet only 5 parents turned up!
I don’t know about other schools, but our PTA raises around £6,000 a year and every penny is needed to bridge the gap between the money the school receives and the money it needs. My daughter’s school’s PTA have paid for playground improvements, classroom equipment like digital electronic overhead projectors and reward stickers to name just a few examples.
Without the money the PTA raises your child’s learning experience will be severely affected.
So even if you have to miss an exercise class or pull in a baby sitting favour, please do make the effort.
And just so that you don’t have to go empty-handed, below are my 10 Great Ideas for you to take to your next PTA meeting:
Improve PTA Communication
1 Create A Facebook Page
I won’t embarrass myself by making wild claims that most parents will have Facebook accounts as I am sure that the percentage varies across schools, but there are bound to be at least a few that do.
It’s important however that you create a Facebook Page rather than a Group. The reason for this is that you don’t have to have a Facebook account to view a Facebook page. There is also a lot more functionality available for pages.
2 Create A PTA Website
Most schools have a some sort of website. Some are very good, and some are….well…..not so good. If your school falls into the later category then the chances are that the PTA doesn’t have the ability to publish its own news easily. And this is the killer part. If it isn’t easy for the PTA to update content whenever they want, upload word docs etc without jumping through hoops, then the PTA should consider having its own website.
The easiest and cheapest (i.e. FREE) way to do this is to use Blogger and create a PTA blog. The PTA can then blog important news updates like PTA minutes, School closures because of snow etc.
3 Have a Good Mix of Day and Evening Meetings
We introduced day time coffee mornings/afternoons and this enabled mums who found it difficult to get away in the evenings to attend and it worked really well in allowing the PTA to reach out to more parents. Knowing that a lot of mums often work part-time, we rotated the days so that over the course of a few months we had had a meeting on every day and at every time possible. Naturally younger children are welcome.
4 Introduce Class Reps
Class reps (i.e. mummies volunteering to be class reps – usually at least 2 per class) are great because it forces parents to get involved. Getting volunteers for events like school discos and christmas fairs can be a real struggle, but if you have class reps then you instantly have at least 2 mummies per class trying to gather the troops as opposed to just a few PTA mums doing all the work.
5 SMS Text Messaging
Geeky daughter’s school sends out text messages whenever there is an important message, for example when the school is shut due to snow, or if the kids are on a school trip and the coach has been delayed. It does cost I believe around 6p a message, but our head explained that this works out cheaper than making calls and is obviously much quicker.
I don’t know what service they use so if anyone wants more info please contact me, but I did find Fast SMS who advertise as being used by schools.
Raising Money PTA Ideas
6 Add Affiliate Links to your website
One of the ways in which many websites make money is through affiliate advertising. This is where, for example, you create an account with Amazon, put a special coded Amazon link on your website and then every time someone clicks on your Amazon link and buys something you (the PTA) receive commission. It is essentially money for nothing – well almost.
It will require constantly nagging, which is why good communication is so important.
7 Christmas Cards Designed by Your Child
This is probably one of the most popular ideas, so your child’s school may already do this. The concept is very simple. Each child designs a Christmas Card which a printing company then turns into a pack of cards that parents can choose to buy. Prices do vary and they are going to be more expensive than just buying a jumbo pack from Tesco, but most parents buy at least one pack.
8 Hire a Circus
This isn’t something you would do every year, but Happy’s Circus is a circus that is specifically designed for schools. They have a proper big tent which they put up on your school field. The show is aimed at children but still very entertaining for adults. It is an acrobat and clown type of show i.e. there are no animals and you don’t have to worry about the clowns being scary, they act like clowns but don’t look anything like a traditional clown.
9 Company Charity Matching Scheme
Ask parents to check with their employers to see if they run an employee charity matching scheme. Banks and larger companies will often donate money to match what the employee has helped raise and it can be as much as £500, so well worth investigating.
10 PTA Parent’s Evening Creche
Parent’s evening can cause a big babysitting nightmare for many parents as both parents are expected and (hopefully) want to attend, but what to do with the children? Geeky daughter’s school PTA run a creche whereby parents drop off their kids for the half hour needed to attend parent’s evening and pay £1 for the first child and 50p for each sibling.
It doesn’t make a great deal of money, around £30 per parent’s evening, but sometimes the PTA is about more than just raising money.
Have you tried any of the above? Did they work well for you? Do you have any other great ideas?