A group that bring parents and teachers together with a mutual interest in supporting their school can be known by several names. "PTAs" (Parent Teacher Association), "Friends' of the School" and "Community School Groups" are the most recognised names. In America and Australia the term "Parent and Citizen Association" is widely used. You don't have to call your group by any of these names, the most important aspect of your membership is that it must reflect the pupils, parents and teachers of the school.
Typically these groups will raise money for non-carricular activities or to provide additional resourses for the children that cannot be squeezed from the school budget. Parent Teacher group forums are often used to facilitate meetings with school staff and to provide parents with information on new school initiatives, such as anti bullying policy or special needs funding. In the UK alone Parent Teacher Groups raise up to One Hundred Million Pounds a year in additional funds for their schools.
For a parent these groups can be a great way to communicate your ideas to the school and have a more active role in your child's education at school. Research has proven that one of the biggest factors of success in any childs education is the support of parents and the communication with the school.
If you have already have started to discuss setting up something with other parents or teachers, you need to speak with the head teacher. He or she may have already been approached by other parents and may also be able to offer useful information to make the process easier. If there is no current Parent Teacher group in place your Headteacher will be very happy to hear you ideas.
A large number of PTA’s come into existence to meet a specific need such as raising funds for new equipment, or an extra-curricular club. Focusing on and succeeding at a single project will empower those involved showing them the positive effect they can have. One project and you will have your PTA started.
Turning a like minded group into a Parent Teacher group
Once you have identified your supporters you need to sit down and organise a steering group to start the PTA. The group should be made up of parents and the head teacher and perhaps other school members including teachers and governors. If no members of the school are directly involved you should still keep them informed as you will need their support. The group will need to agree / organise….
...and it will make the job easier much easier if you choose a acting treasurer, chairperson and secretary from those in your support group before going any further. These will all be informal roles until voted on at the AGM but it will help you move forward much more quickly.
Formal Set up
It may seem to formal to sit down a agree a constitution for your PTA but you must remember that by definition the members of a PTA will change each year as children leave and a well set up PTA is much more likely to survive and prosper.
A Constitution is the document which defines the fundamental rules the PTA is governed by:-
Annual General Meeting
You will need to organise an AGM to formally launch the Parent Teacher group. This is an opportunity to raise interest with parents and teacher alike and all of them should be invited to attend. If you decided to operate as a ‘Friends Of’ this is also your opportunity to invite those from the local community you are interested attracting.
At the AGM there are standard items of business that need to be covered and minutes will need to be taken that record all the actions and each decision taken, proposers, seconders and votes.
Given by the acting chairperson to explain the aims of the PTA, detail any items you are fundraising for
and if possible to invite the Head Teacher to say a few words about the difference having an active PTA can make to a school.
2. Discussions on and adoption of a constitution
The details of the constitution need to be agreed and the document formally adopted into the association by a majority vote of those attending (normally by show of hands).&
3. Election of committee; Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary and Ordinary Committee Members
The constitution will outline the make-up of the Committee that your association must now vote in but it is important to remember that for future AGMs votes to be valid you must have twice the number of people voting as there are committee members present.
Candidates need to be nominated, either before the AGM or at the event itself. Each election is carried out by show of hands or, if more than one person nominated, by secret ballot.
This is the perfect opportunity to ask all those attending for details of any skills and or volunteers to assist with events. This will be much more attractive to some parents than a committee position whilst giving them the opportunity to show their support in front of others. You may wish for example to ask an accountant for their assistance with banking arrangement and prearranging for one volunteer to come forward at the AGM may spur others into stepping forward.
4. Bank signatories
Banking arrangements must be formalised and you should look to agree on four people who will act as signatories, with a minimum two signatures required on any PTA cheques it is good practice to have a choice of people to turn to. On setting up an account a bank will require you to submit the minutes of the AGM detailing signatories and they will need to supply specimen signatures.
5. Date of first committee meeting
Those attending the AGM should be informed of the date and location of the first committee meeting
On closing the AGM you now have a fully fledged Parent Teacher group up and running.
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