Grandparents are great!
Not only can grandparents help bolster volunteer
numbers, they also bring a wealth of experience that can be
enlightening for pupils and parents alike!
If there's one thing a PTFA can never have enough of, it's
volunteers - but when your appeal to parents has failed to drum up
support, where else can you turn? Grandparents! With more and more
grandparents helping out with childcare, it's a natural transition
for them to become involved in the school community - you may be
surprised to find out how many are already on your playground!
While senior supporters potentially have more time to contribute
than your parents, they aren't just an extra pair of helping hands.
With a lifetime of experience, they may well have skills and
expertise to bring to your committee, whether it's a retired
accountant who would make a perfect Treasurer, or an ex-designer
ready to help with your next marketing campaign.
Grandparents will have established networks of local friends, so
opening the committee up to a whole new generation is a fantastic
way to boost support, gaining not just PTFA members, but event
Whatever role they play, inviting grandparents to actively
participate in the PTFA gives them the opportunity to share their
time and talents in a way that benefits the whole school. Forget
the stereotypes of grandparents being old and frail - they probably
have more energy than you or me! And, as these testimonials show,
they're eager to get stuck in!
Ann Harrington, PTFA Secretary, Hugh Joicey CE Aided
First School, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland (62
pupils): 'Our Chair, Tina Mulvey and I are both
grandparents and we're very passionate about our school. Like many
PTAs we used to have terrible trouble making a quorum for the AGM
and sometimes even for a normal meeting! The constitution was
changed to make us a PTFA so that grandparents could take committee
roles. We run a range of fundraising activities, such as a 100
club, raffles and cake stalls. Last year, we took over a charity
shop for a week and sold all manner of items donated by parents and
the community, and raised £2,500. We grannies became involved
because it was a struggle to get people to join the committee. I
don't think either of us intended to end up with the roles that we
did, but it is a match made in heaven! Tina and I will have been
doing this for two years this November and we often joke that we
spend more time with each other than we do with our husbands!'
Sue Stone, former PTA Treasurer, Greenleas School,
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire (560 pupils): 'My
granddaughter brought a letter home from school that asked for a
volunteer to be Treasurer of the PTFA, and my daughter-in-law
suggested I give it a go. I rang the school, met the Chair and
began a journey that would change my retirement! The parents and
teachers were very welcoming; I looked forward to meetings and
began to become involved in events as well as doing the books. Not
having the restrictions of a job or a young family meant I was free
to help out whenever needed. Far from feeling over-the-hill, the
school made me feel valued. I went out for the evening when
committee members got together and made some great new friends. The
Headteacher then said they were looking for Midday Supervisors and
asked if I would be interested. I discovered at the age of 60 how
much I enjoyed working with children. I have been privileged to be
involved in my granddaughter's school. For me it was a win-win
situation, and I hope it benefitted the school too.'
Edwina Byass, PTFA Treasurer, Linslade School, Leighton
Buzzard, Bedfordshire (600 pupils): 'Two years ago
Linslade School PTFA was struggling to fill committee posts and get
helpers for events. My grandson begged me to help out so that their
disco would go ahead! I had time to spare and decided to volunteer
to help - at the first meeting I was elected treasurer. I have
benefitted by being able to help my grandson's school in a way that
drew on my past experience and made me use my brain beyond doing
the daily crossword! Although I do get tired at times (for example
when I have helped at a school disco) it is a 'healthy' tired.
I really believe it physically does me good and has helped
me to regain my vitality. I would certainly
encourage other grandparents to get involved. In today's society,
many of us are more hands-on with our grandchildren and have more
energy than our parents did. As for being frail, just carrying
£1,000 of cash (mostly in coins) to the bank requires
strength! I am 66 and have been through medical hell, but I am
back! My generation is a "can-do" generation!'
Cheryl Green, PTFA Chair, Lime Walk Primary School,
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire (220 pupils): 'I
joined the PTFA at my granddaughter's school in 2015. I'd
originally gone to the meeting with my husband after
persuading him to take on the role of Treasurer, but having handled
an awkward moment of friction between two committee members, the
outgoing Chair nominated me for her role and I was voted in!
Getting involved with the PTFA not only keeps the old grey
matter functioning, but it keeps me active! There are lots of
grandparents out there who have retired and don't have anything to
focus on, but still have transferable skills learned in their
careers that could really benefit a PTFA. For example, thanks to my
former job as a PA I can write letters appealing for donations or
volunteers, which is important because you need to get the tone
right and be persuasive. Parents are often busy with their
children, but grandparents can be an absolutely godsend to a
school. My husband is a key member of the committee as
PTFAs aren't just about now. You're not just improving the
school for your grandchild - it's for the next generation, and the
one after that. Our school was built in 1972, so there's a lot that
needs replacing and a lot of work to be done. I love my
granddaughter, and I love being able to help her, the rest of the
children and the school.'
Anne Robb, former PTFA member, St Andrew's C of E Infant
School, Leyland, Lancs (210 pupils): 'I had been on
the PTA for 15 years with my own children and enjoyed helping out,
so was happy to get involved again at my grandson's school. I love
to sew, so helped to fill stalls with crafts to sell, and also
baked cakes for events.
I never took on any official position, leaving those to members
who preferred an organisational role over a practical one. Hands-on
jobs during events are just as important as the officer positions,
and are often the roles that are hardest to fill. Getting stuck in
with helping set up rooms for events, tidying up afterwards, and
doing the washing up are all crucial to a successful
As my husband had dementia I wasn't able to take on as much as a
grandparent as I did as a parent, but because I couldn't leave him
at home alone, he helped out too. I was proud to have my husband by
my side. He loved being with the children, and they loved him too.
It was really special for him to spend time with our grandson, as
he'd missed out on that side of things with our own children due to
work. I think a lot of grandfathers would love to help out in their
grandchildren's schools for a chance to experience what they missed
out on as parents.
I enjoyed the fact that I was helping to benefit not just my
grandson, but everyone within the school. I made lots of new
friends. I would recommend that other grandparents get involved
with the PTA, as it gives you something to do and a chance to make
Sarah Williams, PTFA Secretary, Flanderwell Primary
School, Rotherham (320 pupils): 'Mary and Kevin Johnson
are two hugely valuable grandparents who have been on our committee
since it was set up five years ago. Both are retired, meaning they
have more flexibility and are able to utilise the time other
members of our committee spend at work.
They organise refreshments for all events, from teas and coffees
to full meals. Kevin is Father Christmas at our fair, which is a
role he takes great pride in, as he loves making it an amazing
experience for the children. With an engineering background and DIY
as a hobby, Kevin builds the grotto and has turned lots of our
ideas into a reality, including a crazy golf game and tin can alley
Our grandparents will do anything and everything that is needed
prior, during and after the event, including thinking up ideas,
making games, running stalls, organising helpers, finding raffle
prizes and counting and banking cash. Their experience,
knowledge and time is so important to us, and we wouldn't be able
to run events without them.'
Joan Cresswell, PTFA Member, Bhylls Acre Primary School,
Castlecroft, Wolverhampton (206 pupils): 'When my
grandson started school in 2014, I attended a PTA meeting with my
daughter. I enjoyed it so much that the PTA constitution was
changed to that of a PTFA, just so I could join!
Being on the committee keeps me young. If you get involved and
stay active, you won't feel your age. I always throw myself into
fundraising events. On the day of our Christmas fair I catered for
our breakfast with Santa, afternoon tea with Santa and then cooked
turkey all night. We have a fantastic committee, now chaired by my
daughter, where new ideas are always welcome. Everyone loved my
suggestion of a fashion show, and we pulled it off to raise over
Taking part in the PTFA helps me to forget my aches and pains. I
had breast cancer two years ago, but the PTFA gave me something
else to focus on. Truthfully, I wouldn't know what to do without
our school. If my daughter gave it up, I would keep going without
Older people have so much to give and so many ways in which they
can help. My youngest grandson is joining in September, so
I'll be continuing to volunteer for many years to come.'
NOTE: Check your constitution to verify whether
your membership includes grandparents (this is usually the case if
you are a PTFA/Friends Association). Only members can hold elected
roles on the committee.
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