PTA-UK's annual survey of members
shows that the average PTA committee comprises between five and ten
members. However, anecdotally we know that many PTAs continue
to operate sometimes with considerably fewer numbers. (NB:
the PTA-UK model constitution stipulates that
the minimum number of members a committee can have is two.)
This can make the workload
difficult to manage and often means that it is hard to recruit new
members as there is a general fear about the time commitment
Whilst is it feasible to continue
to operate with a limited number of committee members, you will
find it beneficial to develop strategies to deal with the workload
and engage new recruits.
It is very important to be flexible
and think creatively to ensure that your PTA committee gets all the
support it needs. Firstly, parents (and others) that wish to
volunteer, do not actually need to be a member of the
committee. Many PTAs operate very successfully with a small
committee supported by a dedicated group of PTA helpers which can
be called on to assist with events. New volunteers are often
happier to give their support occasionally and for a limited amount
of time at events as opposed to making an on-going commitment to
the committee. This approach can often lead to the volunteer
feeling more comfortable about taking on a more active role,
perhaps as a committee member or even an officer's role.
Survey parents to find out what
skills they have and how often and when they might be happy to help
out. Make it clear that all offers of help are welcome, no
matter how small. PTAs have found that this is a particularly good
way of getting Dads involved who tend to prefer giving practical
support rather than joining the committee.
Alternatively, if you are planning
an event draw up a specific list of what support is needed and ask
parents to volunteer. Making the level of commitment explicit
and therefore quantifiable for parents is likely to increase the
numbers coming forward.
If you are struggling to get
committee members again think about being flexible. Offering
an officer role as a job share might make it more likely that it
gets filled. This could also be sold to prospective committee
members on the basis that it is a good way to get to know another
parent at the school. Alternatively, for more complex roles
such as the Chair or Treasurer consider having a period where the
current and new office holders overlap so that the incoming
committee member has an opportunity to learn the ropes.
It also pays to be fairly
brazen. If there is a parent who you feel would be a good
member of the committee there is nothing to stop you approaching
them direct and saying as much. Talk to the school about
parents that volunteer in the classroom; there is evidence to say
that people who volunteer in one capacity are more likely to offer
their support in additional roles.
Many successful PTAs operate a
'class rep' system. This is a simple idea, whereby one or two
parents, represent a class or year group. It is then their
responsibility to promote forthcoming events to other class / year
group parents and to seek additional one-off offers of assistance
for events such as stallholders for the summer fair.
Most importantly make sure that
your PTA is open to all and is welcoming and friendly.
Sometimes committees can seem like a 'closed shop' to those not
involved - run by a group that know each other well and therefore
it appears hard to join or become part of. Target parents
when they are new to the school, making it clear all are welcome
and offering the PTA as a way to get to know the school and other
parents. A good way to do this is to make your first event of
the school year a social one, specifically for new parents.
This could be fairly low key - simply meeting in the pub for a
drink, to get to know people, or an informal coffee morning. The
PTA-UK has produced a template to enable its members to create a booklet for new
parents to welcome them to your school and introduce them to your
PTA, its operation, work and achievements.
Once you have established your
loyal band of supporters it is really important to say thank
you. Whilst they may be volunteering for the sake of the
school and their children parents will want to know that their
contribution matters and is valuable. Get the children and
the school to write appropriate thank you cards or possibly do a
thank you assembly where the children get the opportunity to thank
members of the PTA direct.
• build up a group of
occasional volunteers who don't want to be members of the committee
but who are happy to lend their support from time to time
• survey parents to understand what skills they can
• be specific about what support is needed for an event and
ask parents to volunteer
• consider introducing a class rep system
• to gain new committee members consider job share roles and
work shadowing especially where parents lack confidence
• target parents that it is felt will make good committee
• make sure the committee is open and welcoming to all
• remember to say thank you for any support
• All Saints Primary School
PTA in Marple has been given permission by the headteacher to
incorporate a skills audit into Parents' Evening. The head and the
staff ask a few relevant questions of parents as they conclude
their parents' evening discussions. This information is then
fedback to the PTA.