PTA myths: busted

Think you know the PTA? Think again! Clare Snelson helps us to sort the fact from the fiction

Myth 1: The PTA is cliquey

Fact: Most PTAs are welcoming, friendly groups that want to create enjoyable, social ways to raise funds that benefit all the children. The PTA provides resources and experiences that might otherwise be out of reach, especially with the current school funding challenges. It’s also a fab way of getting to know people.

Myth 2: I work, so I don’t have time to help

Fact: Having different schedules and commitments can be an advantage, as it allows people to contribute and raise funds in diverse ways. Whether it's using a donation app for online shopping, inflating footballs for the summer fete or approaching local businesses for raffle prizes, there’s a way to get involved that fits your unique availability and interests.

Myth 3: You have to go to every meeting and every event

Fact: Attending a meeting doesn’t commit you for life, and you can walk away with your diary intact. Your contribution is valued regardless of the amount of time you can spare. You can support the PTA in ways that don’t involve events, such as sorting pre-loved uniforms.

Myth 4: The PTA is just for mums

Fact: PTA events thrive with the support of all volunteers. In addition to parents – both mums and dads – carers, grandparents, aunties, uncles and adult siblings are all welcome.

Myth 5: I can’t come in during school hours, so I can’t help at events

Fact: No worries! PTA volunteering opportunities extend beyond the school day, and most activities kick off after pick-up. Even if you can’t help set things up, there are plenty of opportunities to assist during events and afterwards when it's time to clear up.

Myth 6: I have to be on the committee to help with the PTA

Fact: Surprise – if you have a child in the school, you’re probably already part of the PTA community. The chair, secretary and treasurer are usually the elected officers, and the group may have other trustees with different roles who vote on how to allocate funds. But the amazing people who lend a hand are the invaluable volunteers, and you don’t need an official title to take part!

Myth 7: I have small children, and they will make too much noise during meetings

Fact: We get it – children bring their own soundtrack! Some PTAs hold meetings in child-friendly places with fun distractions to keep youngsters occupied – others meet in the evenings or online. Don’t worry about the background noise; PTA members have mastered the art of tuning it out.

Myth 8: To be in the PTA, you must be a school parent or work at the school

Fact: Depending on the group's governing document, membership eligibility may not be limited to those directly connected to the school – members of the local community may also be able to join and help run the organisation. PTAs and Friends' Associations operate as independent charities, with decisions on fund allocation made by their elected trustees. Most PTAs maintain a close relationship with the school to ensure alignment with its needs.

Myth 9: The PTA have all the help they need – my participation won’t make a difference

Fact: Your involvement isn’t just wanted, it’s absolutely vital! Whether you can spare a little time or a lot, your support truly matters. Without enough volunteers, events are at risk of cancellation and fundraisers won't happen. Joining in will have a real impact and ensure the continued success of the PTA!

Myth 10: The school will provide the same education and provision for my child whether I join the PTA or not

Fact: Your involvement in the PTA will open the door to enhanced experiences and opportunities for your child and every child in the school.

PTA initiatives enrich the learning environment, fund extra resources and organise enjoyable events that can positively impact your child’s educational journey. Joining the PTA allows you to play a direct role in shaping these additional aspects of their school experience.

Myth 11: I can only join a PTA at the beginning of the school year

Fact: You can start volunteering at any time.

Myth 12: Meetings go on forever

Fact: Many people prefer shorter meetings, so PTAs often hold concise gatherings that usually end within an hour. You’re welcome to slip out at any time that suits you

Myth 13: Coming to a meeting for the first time is intimidating

Fact: Yes, it can be! But everyone there has been in your shoes. Rest assured, the PTA is just a normal bunch of people with a shared mission: creating fun activities for the kids and raising essential funds for the school. Be brave, and you’ll soon see that being part of the meetings is like catching up with friends – casual, open and free of intimidation.

Clare Snelson, secretary, Beckers Green PTA, Beckers Green Primary School, Braintree, Essex