You may well be holding your AGM this term, which means named committee members will be stepping down and you may be looking for new people to take on the roles. It can be hard finding willing volunteers, and that's often because people don't understand what they're being asked to do. The traditional roles are chair, treasurer and secretary, but what do these roles actually entail on a day-to-day basis? What each position involves will differ from committee to committee and will depend on your constitution, but our job descriptions on the next few pages will give you an idea of what each named officer is responsible for.
What legal responsibilities are linked to committee roles?
As trustees of the PTA, all named officers are responsible for making sure the organisation is run effectively and in line with its constitution. If your PTA is a registered charity, it's likely that as a chair, treasurer or secretary your details will be lodged with the Charity Commission. A handbook for trustees – The Essential Trustee: What you need to know, what you need to do – can be downloaded from the Charity Commission website and will tell you more about what is expected of trustees. Although it may seem intimidating, being a good trustee is mostly about common sense, for example:
- Ensuring committee meetings are properly organised and minuted
- Ensuring everyone is fully informed and can take part in discussions that lead to good decisions
- Encouraging everyone to turn up to meetings
- Identifying the skills and experience the charity needs to run effectively, and recruiting members with these skills
- Making sure the charity's assets are only used to support or carry out its purposes and taking reasonable steps to ensure the school spends the money as agreed.
Main purpose of role: To lead the committee, ensuring the PTA is run in line with its constitution and according to the wishes of all members.
- Setting the dates and agenda for meetings
- Managing meetings according to the agenda and remaining impartial while doing so
- Ensuring meetings are held fairly and contributions from everyone are welcomed
- Writing the annual report for the AGM
- Delegating tasks to committee members and volunteers and ensuring these are carried out effectively
- Being one of the designated signatories on the PTA bank account
- Getting to know PTA members and welcoming and encouraging new volunteers
- Drawing up the annual PTA calendar of events
- Being the PTA's primary link to the school, which includes agreeing on a wish list with the school leadership team
- Ensuring the PTA is registered with regulatory bodies, e.g. the Charity Commission, and submitting reports where necessary
- Strong leadership
- Good mediator
'It's important for people to know who you are'
'Being chair of the PTA is a very challenging but rewarding role. It's crucial to be enthusiastic – as with any job, you need to enjoy what you're doing. Organisation and delegation are key, especially when it comes to running events. I think it's important for people to know who you are – I'm lucky enough to be in the playground every day so I get to talk to a lot of people.
If you're thinking about being chair of your PTA, my advice is to go for it! It's so rewarding to know that you've helped to raise much-needed money for your school. One of the things I'm most proud of as chair is doubling the teacher allowance to £300 each per year – every child benefits from this as they get rewards, encouragement and more "nice stuff" for their classroom.
My three children practically live in our PTA storage cupboard! They see the importance and result of lending a hand where you can and the hard work that goes into organising an event. Give it your best shot, do it with a smile and you're winning.'
Kelley Phelan, PTA chair, St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School, Maidenhead, Berkshire (423 pupils)
Main purpose of role: To manage and control PTA funds according to the wishes of the committee.
- Reporting finances at PTA meetings in a clear, concise way that all members can understand
- Preparing a financial report for the AGM
- Maintaining up-to-date records of all the PTA's financial activity
- Organising floats for fundraising events
- Ensuring money is kept safely before and during events, and banking takings afterwards
- Reporting income and expenditure information after events
- Managing Gift Aid claims
- Completing the Charity Commission annual return (if registered) and getting accounts audited where necessary
- Managing finances on a day-to-day basis, including making payments, completing banking transactions and issuing bills and receipts
- Ensuring PTA bank cards and cheque books are safely stored
- Implementing procedures for making approved payments and claiming expenses and ensuring they're followed by all members
- Good with numbers
- Confident handling money
'I feel proud to announce the profit made'
'After supporting the PTFA as a helper and attending meetings for a couple of years, I was asked if I would take on the role of treasurer. My main responsibilities are reconciling bank statements, keeping up-to-date monthly cashbooks, producing termly reports for PTFA meetings and finalising the annual accounts.
After events, I bank any cash and produce an income and expenditure report. I also submit our annual return to the Charity Commission, organise TENs and the lottery licence and renew our insurance. In addition, I run the 300 Club and I am the administrator for our Easyfundraising and AmazonSmile schemes.
I do have accounting qualifications however I don't think that's necessary in order to take on the role of treasurer; I think its important to have organisation skills, to be comfortable with numbers and not be scared of paperwork.
To anyone considering becoming a treasurer, I would say that it's such a rewarding role. After the post-event number-crunching, it makes me feel very proud to announce the profit made, and to reward everyone's hard work put into that event. I can honestly say I love it!'
Claire Smith, treasurer, Haslingden High School & Sixth Form, Rossendale, Lancashire (1,600 pupils)
Main purpose of role: To ensure the PTA runs smoothly and efficiently through the preparation and organisation of the committee's paperwork and communications.
- Working with the chair to prepare for and run meetings
- Circulating the agenda and reports before meetings and identifying outstanding items from previous meetings
- Helping the chair in planning the AGM and preparing the annual report
- Managing communication between the committee, volunteers, school and school community, including writing emails, newsletters and social media content, which may involve liaising with school admin staff
- Managing all correspondence received by the PTA
- Taking minutes during PTA meetings, typing them up and distributing them to committee members once approved by the chair
- Maintaining the PTA's records, including minutes, member contact details and legal documents
- Ensuring there are enough committee numbers present at meetings to make up the quorum
- Preparing the publicity for events, including flyers, posters and tickets
- Strong communicator
- Fast and accurate note-taker
'Being a people person is essential'
'I was approached by the PTA as I was very visible on social media and I am a strong communicator. I am good at networking and bringing people together. As secretary I support the chair and treasurer in all aspects of their roles. I am responsible for ensuring effective communication links between the PTA committee, PTA planning team, school staff and parent community.
The role requires excellent organisational, communication and social media skills. The secretary role in our school is also the face of the PTA, so being a people person is essential. Having an approachable, happy-to-help disposition goes a long way. It's a busy role and demanding at times, but great fun. It allows you to get to know many of the parents, teachers and children.
Our school really values the contribution that the PTA makes, not just financially, but also to building a closer school community. I feel a great sense of achievement in helping raise much-needed funds. The most rewarding part is when you see the children enjoying something new that the PTA has funded.'
Nathalie Dawson, PTA secretary, St James' CofE Primary School, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (420 pupils)