The children have been back at school for about a month or so now and I thought this would be a great time to tell you why this is a fantastic time to join your school’s PTA or Friends’ Association.
In the news, we are bombarded with stories of austerity and budget cuts especially across the public sector. At a time when we should be heavily investing in the future of our country, the education budgets are tighter than ever. The media like to present us with sensational stories of parents being made to pay for new text books and to send their children to school with resources you’d think the school should provide.
Luxuries have been cut to ensure that the essentials can be paid for. This is where PTAs and Friends’ Associations step in. If your child has ever had a theatre group visit the school or an educational workshop and you weren’t ask to pay, or pay much, for it the chances are the PTA have probably funded it. Plus there’s likely a plethora of ‘unseen items’ that the PTA have paid for. I know my son’s Friends’ Association have raised money to pay for things like playground markings, gazebos and sports kits.
If you read my ‘If I Ruled The World’ post, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of enriching children’s learning with hands on learning experiences but these amazing opportunities usually come with a hefty price tag that cannot be factored in to the usual school budgets.
I will happily hold my hands up and say that before I joined our PTA I was blissfully unaware that the Friends’ Association had paid for a pantomime company to visit the school and that each year group had had a learning workshop thanks to the Friends’ Association. My son had enjoyed a day learning about Chinese New Year with drumming, dragons, food and music thanks to the hard work of parents and friends of the school!
I think that PTA groups have had a bit of a bad rap with people assuming that they are run my perfect parents with perfect children. They’re really not. They are just Mums and Dads (Grandmas, Grandads, Friends etc) who really want to make a difference to their, and your, children’s education.
If they organise a bake sale, they won’t mind whether your cupcake is organic and made with fairy dust or whether you’ve popped to the Spar on the way to school because you totally forgot about it. They’ll just be hugely grateful that you contributed. You may not be a baker but I can guarantee you will have some kind of skill that will be useful – designing posters, pestering businesses for raffle prizes or chaperoning school discos, I’m sure there’s something you could do to help out.
If you are a bit of an introverted parent, like me, it’s a lovely way to meet other parents in a less threatening way. I am terrible at the gate. There are so many people and I’m useless at making the small talk and chit chat so I haven’t really made strong Mum alliances there. The PTA meetings are a bit smaller and you can have a chat over a cup of tea, a biscuit and a common cause!
Another common worry is that you can’t fit it into your busy life and I absolutely get that. Although, you’d probably find that you’d need to give up a lot less time than you’d expect. We have a monthly Friends’ meeting which lasts between 45mins to an hour and then usually we ended going for a drink at the pub next door! In the run up to events, you may need to give more time but the more volunteers there are, the less work is needed to be done by each person.
Finally, the biggest reason why I’d implore you to join and support your school’s PTA or Friends’ Association is because they really do make a difference to your child’s learning. They organise Summer Fetes, Christmas Fairs, Raffles and Cake Sales to ensure that your child can go to school and learn in a really fun way!