Tips for agreeing a wishlist
Agreeing how to spend your hard-earned PTA £££s can be a
delicate subject. Work with your school to establish a strategy for
how wish lists should be agreed. Here are a few
Check your constitiution
Every PTA should have a constitution in place. This acts as a
guidance document and should state the aims of your association.
Most PTAs have two key objectives - firstly, to cultivate
relationships between school staff, parents and the wider
community; and secondly, to provide resources or experiences which
enhance the educational experience of pupils.
Having a detailed consititution can be a great benefit should
any disagreements arise between school staff and the PTA committee.
Therefore, if your constitution was drawn up a while ago, it may be
worth reviewing it. Discuss with your fellow committee members
which items you might feel fall outside the remit of the PTA. That
said, you may want to consider whether, in light of the economic
downturn, your PTA needs to be sensitive to new pressures the
school is under. If your association is a registered charity, you
should consider how you can best meet your core charitable
Check your bank balance
Provide regular reports on the amount of money in your PTA
coffers. This will enable the school to suggest items that are
realistically within reach. If you're hoping to raise money for a
specific project, then announce this to parents and local
businesses - you never know where support may come from, but if you
don't ask, you don't get! Don't rule out bigger projects because
the money isn't there. There are an estimated 10,000 trusts and
foundations in the UK giving over £2 billion a year. For
information on finding and applying for grants, see our feature 'finding
funding'. Whilst it's prudent to keep some funds in reserve,
bear in mind that the parents who helped you raise that money will
want to see their children reap the benefits. Agree a realistic
policy for reserve funds.
Agree a strategy
Schools and associations work in different ways when it comes to
agreeing how PTA funds should be spent. Often this can be a fairly
fluid process with a mix and match approach, but others prefer more
structure. The chair and head teacher should work together to agree
a strategy up front that both parties are happy with. This may
include one or more of the following:
- Ask teaching staff to provide a written wish list each term.
Consider working with the school to create a bespoke form, asking
for details of each resource (including price) and the benefit it
offers pupils. This may be particularly valuable in secondary
schools to ensure that different departments are represented.
- Some PTAs agree to commit a set amount each term towards a
specific resource, such as library books or subscriptions to online
learning tools. Others set aside a certain amount each year towards
- While teachers are best placed to know which resources will be
of most benefit, there should also be the opportunity for the
committee (and indeed parents and pupils) to offer suggestions for
All requests and suggestions should be voted on by the
committee. Where there are disagreements, be clear about your
rationale and work towards finding a solution. It might be that you
agree to part-fund something in conjunction with the school. Either
way, an effective PTA is reliant on a relationship based on mutual
respect and support from the school staff.
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