Chair: Elmtree Infant School
Ashley Myers, Elmtree Infant and Nursery School,
Chesham, Bucks (260 pupils)
Running your PTA
- How many people are there on your committee?
- How long have you been Chair? 1-2 years
- When is your busiest time of year? The
autumn term - in September we organise a Harvest festival, by
getting famlies to donate food for Harvest goodie packs that we
distribute to the vulnerable members of our community. We make up
the hampers ourselves. We usually have a school disco and an open
day for new families. The PTA also starts planning the Christmas
fayre, Christmas parties and concerts.
- When is your quietest time of year? During
January, but we are always planning film nights, discos, quiz
nights, etc, to run before the half-term break.
- How hands-on are you as a Chair? I am
very hands-on but I do delegate some tasks. I think we all have
particular tasks that we like to do, so those get repeated
throughout the year.
- What is your relationship like with the school and the
staff? Amazing - the staff have always been so
helpful and I have gained the respect of many teachers, so they are
now stepping forward to help at events more.
Tips and advice
- What advice will you pass on to your
successor? Don't give up, don't be afraid to approach
people to ask if they will volunteer, and maintain good
communication with the school. Don't be afraid to change or adapt
things when you need to.
- What do you wish you'd known before becoming
Chair? What else the PTA was involved in, other than
- What have you personally gained from being
Chair? I have gained great relationships with the school
staff and some of the governors, plus a good insight into the
running of the school. I think I've also regained confidence in
skills that I had prior to having my daughter. Having given up a
successful project-management career, it has been great to use
these skills again!
- What is the best thing about being
Chair? The strong relationships I have with the
school staff and teachers, and knowing that the money we've raised
has benefitted so many children.
- What do you think makes a good
Chair? Being able to communicate on all levels, being
organised and planning ahead.
Challenges in the role
- What challenges do you
face? I've had some criticism in
the past for not doing things that have always historically been
done. This wasn't intentional, but simply due to the fact I
couldn't get enough volunteers. I find it frustrating to be told
things have to be done a certain way. I think the Chair should
always be given the freedom to make positive changes that they
think will work.
- What is the most daunting task you've had to
undertake? Running the Christmas and summer
fayres, and also participation in the town's summer carnival.
- Have you ever had an instance where you have had to
challenge the school's decision(s)? The school has always
worked very well and closely with the PTA. We seem to negotiate
well and come to a compromise of some kind so that both the PTA and
school are happy.
- Have you ever had an instance where an Officer was not
fulfilling their role, and was refusing to step down? No,
not really. Everyone does what they can and we all understand that
we have work and family commitments. People are usually upfront if
they can't meet their role's expecations and we all just get on
with it to get the job done.
- How do you go about handling any
animosity/disagreements in your committee? There
hasn't really been any animosity as far as I'm aware. We did have
some disagreements about expenses that were being claimed, but
those involved discussed the matters between themselves until they
reached an agreement. It was all handled very diplomatically, and
it was good to hear each person's perspective.
- How do you go about recruiting volunteers for
events? We put sign-up lists outside each classroom
and get the school to text all the parents regularly, to remind
people they are there. I also use Facebook, the PTA noticeboard,
and often put up posters. I did also once threaten to cancel an
event due to lack of volunteers and it was amazing how many people
then stepped forward!
- How do you go about boosting morale and motivating your
committee? I remind people how much money we raised and
how much the children and school benefit from all our hard work. I
thank everyone all the time as I do appreciate all the help we get.
I also ensure that the school acknowledges the PTA's efforts in
their newsletter, letters to parents, and during some assemblies
- How do you welcome new families to the
school? The PTA speaks at the induction days in July
for new families. At the beginning of term, we have a coffee
morning as a 'Welcome to/back to school' event.
- How long do you intend on being Chair? Until
my daughter moves on to a new school for Year 3.
- How long did you plan on being Chair when you started,
and has this changed since taking on the role? I
anticipated I would be there for the remaining time my daughter had
at the school (two years). However, after my first year I would
have liked to have stepped down to Vice-Chair, and helped someone
new take on the role as Chair so they could continue once I'd
- Did you shadow the previous Chair before taking on the
role? No, but as I was Treausrer and had worked closely
with the Secretary, I had an understanding of what was
- Do you intend on having your successor shadow you in
the role before you step down? I am writing a handbook
detailing everything that the PTA is involved in, which should help
the new Chair.
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