The most recent PTA-UK survey showed, once again, that for the majority of PTAs, fundraising in their main purpose (97%). However, for more and more, other aspects of school life are now beginning to feature. For example, for the second year in succession, over a third of PTA-UK members have reported that they are now undertaking some form of activity which encourages parents to be more involved in the education of their child/children. Approximately 10% also stated that they are helping their school to deliver the extended services and healthy school agendas. So how can you broaden the scope of your PTA?
A good place to start would be to speak to the headteacher. Find out what the school's objectives are for the future as there may be an opportunity for the PTA to assist. As an example, we know that many PTAs have helped their school with the development of its school travel plan. You can talk about short, medium and long term aims. A short term aim could be for the PTA to have a presence at all school events, such as parents' evening, induction days and so on. This will not only give the PTA the chance to illicit some support and promote its work and the benefits it brings, but to also canvass parents views on behalf of the school on any changes planned, e.g. to the school uniform.
To broaden the remit of your PTA, you need to ensure that you have the support of the PTA committee. Start by understanding the extent to which the PTA is willing to support any activities that are suggested.
There are a variety of activities that a PTA could undertake, to help parents become more engaged in their children's education, such as:-
- language support for parents with English as a second language
- support for traditionally hard to reach parents
- guidance on issues such as internet safety, bullying, drug use
- help with homework
Further information is available via the PTA-UK Information sheet Parental Involvement - getting started
- make sure you have the support of your committee
- speak to the head teacher; explain that the PTA would like to support the school in activities aimed at engaging more parents
- think about what type of activities you could undertake; perhaps a survey of parents will identify the need for a certain activity
- think about how such a project would be funded
Anchorsholme Primary School, Thornton Cleveleys, Blackpool: PATHS - Play at Home and School
The importance of play for early learning and to help children settle into school is now well recognised. Anchorsholme Primary School will tackle a lack of effective play skills and the concerns of parents about the need for more play opportunities by supporting play skills at home and school.Initially targeted at children and families in Reception, a series of play resources and activity cards will be developed. New activities will be sent home at regular intervals with parents offered the opportunity to come into school and work alongside their children to develop their play skills.The involvement of dads is a key target for Anchorsholme. Like many primary schools, whilst it has an active PTA, few dads get involved in classroom activities. Pupils, who are trained to support children's play, will help to promote and monitor the PATHS initiative. It is hoped that this will reduce poor behaviour at playtimes.
Wade Deacon High School, Widness, Cheshire: Parents Road to Success
Research has shown that home access to the technology and specifically the internet has a positive impact on children's learning. However, this can be undermined significantly where a lack of parental ICT skills affects online learning at home or means that there is no home access to the internet.
Wade Deacon High School plans to tackle this issue head on by offering the European Computer Driving License qualification to parents. The objective is to increase parental ICT skills to further empower them to support their children's learning. This will also enable a greater number of parents to use the school's online learning platform to understand more about their child's progress and even to directly contribute to personalised learning plans. The school will become an accredited centre offering the qualification after which parents of Year 6 pupils in feeder primary schools will be targeted to participate.