When Julie Hartell, co-chair of the Friends of Beacon Rise Primary in Bristol, gave a speech to encourage more parents to show their support, she got a great response.
'I wrote the speech just before Christmas and delivered it to parents five times at each Christmas production,' she says. 'I cleared the words with the head teacher first and would definitely advise doing this. The head was concerned about me suggesting "NO SANTA" as the kids were listening, and he didn't want them upset. But I wanted the shock factor – I wanted the kids to say "NO!" and the parents hearts to jump.
It worked, and as a result, five parents approached me in the days after, making reference to the speech. They offered their assistance with volunteering at events and also showed interest in attending meetings. Some parents stopped me in the playground just to say thank you for making them aware of who we were.
We also left an A4 leaflet on each chair which we urged the parents to take home. The flyer gave parents more information about what we do, why we do it and how it helps their children. We also outlined our promises to enhance the PTA group. The next day, we received an email from a parent who had been at one of the Christmas productions when the school's CD player failed. This parent offered to buy us the CD player of our choice from his own money because he didn't have time to attend meetings, but wanted to offer help.'
Read the speech
I have a few minutes to tell you something very important:
- Your child is in this school – FACT
- The teachers and head are responsible for ensuring every child receives the same level of education and their current performance? Well, it’s outstanding – FACT
- As parents, you have a direct influence on the experience your child has whilst at this school – FACT
However, not all of us take that opportunity.
I understand some of us:
- work full time
- work part time
- are full-time parents
- are single parents.
I work three days a week in [town] as a [profession].
I also started my own business to help make ends meet.
Lastly, I am a mum to one little angel who's at school and my three-year-old.
We all have different pressures in life, but we all share the same objective: the importance of the education of our children.
It’s easy to leave the educational bit it to the teachers. It's easy to leave the PTA bit to those parents who you see in the playground with a pen, paper and purpose in their eyes. I know some of us think they just pester!
But right now, the bottom line is if we do not get more parental support, there will be NO [PTA name].
- NO [PTA name] means NO additional funds.
- NO additional funds means no new playground or state of the art classroom equipment.
- It means NO more events such as discos, secret rooms, summer fairs and Christmas fairs.
- Ultimately, it means NO SANTA!!
Sure, we can continue to churn out the safe events such as the tombola, discos, fairs, and raffles, but why not think outside the box?
I hear parents say they don’t know what the [PTA name] actually does, who they are, when they meet and who can attend. All that is about to change.
In an effort to re-launch the [PTA name], we will be asking all of YOU to help us to:
- Redesign the [PTA name] logo
- Create a strapline that reflects what we believe
- Redesign the ‘parent’ section of the school’s website, bringing into the 21st century, including adding loads more content
- Implement a suggestion box located in reception where parents can leave their ideas, suggestions and contact details
- We also have our new mailbox address which is printed on the back of the leaflet along with our mobile contact numbers
We will provide you with dates, times and venue of our meetings 12 months in advance. These are informal meetings and anyone can attend. You don’t have to say anything – you can just listen. You don’t have to be confident or outgoing. But maybe YOU can bring something to the table. You just need to have a desire to want MORE for your children.
I hope you enjoy watching the Christmas school production as the children are raring to go! But please could I ask you to take home the leaflet which has been left on your chairs. I asked my husband to read it and, rolling his eyes, he took the leaflet, mumbling he would read the first few lines. After 20 minutes, he returned and said ‘Wow – we need to do more.’ I hope you feel the same.