Effective communication with parents is vital for a successful PTA. Again you will need to understand your parent group and what works well for them. The most successful PTAs offer a variety of ways for parents to hear about the work of the PTA, its success and forthcoming events, as well as how to communicate with PTA committee members.
A PTA notice board in a prominent place is a must. Here you can display a variety of items, such as your constitution and charity registration number, a copy of the last PTA newsletter, the minutes of the last meeting, notification of forthcoming events, a totaliser, indicating how much money has been raised, details of what the PTA is currently fundraising for plus a way for parents to have their say on what is needed.
You might also want to display your PTA-UK membership certificate. If you run a 100 club (or similar) winners can be notified via the notice board, as can raffle winners. Make the PTA noticeboard a focal point and keep it up-to-date. If there is something interesting on it, that is timely and relevant, more people are likely to read it and come back for more.
Place a suggestion box nearby, as an additional way for parents to communicate their ideas to the committee and remember to have contact details for the committee, clearly displayed. Always dedicate a part of the noticeboard for parents that wish to volunteer. In addition, consider using a mobile noticeboard too - this can be a smaller version that is placed strategically in the school playground for example and can be a great way to promote events.
It is also important to have a regular, attractive and informative newsletter for your association. Give your newsletter maximum impact by:
producing it on coloured paper so that it stands out and is easily identifiable as the PTA newsletter
use logos, photos, artwork and cartoons, to give it more impact
ensure the PTA committee contact details are published, with the various ways to get in touch
use the newsletter to celebrate your success
use it to advertise forthcoming events and give examples of the various ways parents can help
produce it on a regular basis, so that parents expect it
make it available electronically, so that parents can sign up to an email copy (the added bonus here is that you capture valuable email addresses)
ask for a comment from the headteacher, remind the parents what the PTA is all about, why the school has one and that all parents are members of the association
Run open committee meetings where parents who are not on the committee can participate in the discussion. Whilst they will have no formal voting rights, this may be a really good way to show a new volunteer how the committee works.
Think about establishing a PTA website. PTA-UK, at a small additional cost, can provide you with all the information you need to set one up. You don't need any technical expertise, just select the templates, from our Web Builder service, then populate with your own information. Visit http://www.example1.ncpta.net/ for an example of a site or contact the Advice Line to register.
Online communication can be particularly advantageous at secondary level and for special schools because the parent community tends to be more remote. If the school has a system for text messaging parents, find out if this can be used by the PTA to promote its activities.
Speak to the Headteacher and then the school office, to agree the protocol for disseminating information to parents via pupils and the school's newsletters/website. You will find that the school office will be much more receptive to your requests if you can adhere to their requirements such as an agreed period of notice. If there is ever an occasion whereby you need something issued at very short notice, the school office is much more likely to accommodate your request if the majority of the time you are mindful of other pressures on the staff. The odd complementary ticket will also go a long way to endearing the PTA.
• offer various methods of communication e.g. website, newsletter, notice board
• agree a protocol with the school for disseminating information
• run open committee meetings
• make sure committee contact details are prominently displayed
•Yeo Moor Infant School PTA, Clevedon, North Somerset, Parent Helpers' Handbook
• Dallam School PTA, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, PTA Newsletter