Every PTA has to begin somewhere – perhaps with a conversation about something the school needs. Over time, the discussion becomes a question: Is there something we can do?
The answer is yes. If your school could use the additional resources that a PTA can provide, now may be the ideal time to establish one.
To be successful, PTAs should be open and inclusive, welcoming suggestions from the entire community and collaborating closely with the school. But before you dive in, consult with as many stakeholders as possible to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Speak to your school
Whatever the scope of your plans, you will struggle without support from the school. PTAs often rely on their schools for access to buildings and communications, while schools help PTAs compile wish lists, and promote and run events. Aim to get at least one member of the school staff to support your new PTA directly by becoming the PTA liaison and participating in meetings. To be persuasive in the meeting, focus more on the benefits for the school than the detail of what your group will do. It may help to bring along a few PTA success stories that demonstrate what’s possible, but don’t overwhelm! Frame your ideas as suggestions and, above all, listen to what the school has to say.
Discuss the type of association you want to form, as the school leaders may have a view on who can join. A traditional PTA includes only parents and teachers at the school, whereas a Friends group has a wider range of members, including grandparents, community members and parents whose children no longer attend the school. Friends groups are becoming more popular because they offer a larger and more diverse group of potential volunteers.
Hold an open meeting for your new PTA or Friends group that welcomes all potential members. Ask for input on who can help, what activities they would like to participate in and what skills they can offer. Find out if anyone is interested in joining the committee, specifically in the roles of chair, secretary and treasurer. You could suggest other positions too, such as communications officer and bake sale coordinator.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the range of people who step up and the variety of skills and ideas they bring. Welcome volunteers from outside your social circle; making new connections and friendships is one of the benefits of being a part of the PTA.
Form your team
Gather together everyone who has shown interest in forming the new PTA. Your group will be classed as a small charity, and finding out the basics of how charities function will help you answer questions that are bound to arise in the future. Those who are considering taking on committee roles should understand the responsibilities of being a trustee (see further information, below). But don’t be overwhelmed by the regulations: thousands of people serve on the committees of PTAs and other small charities.
Start the formalities
It’s time to formalise your PTA. Starting a small fundraising group is a fairly straightforward process requiring only three people: a chair, treasurer and secretary. Staying small has advantages, such as keeping admin to a minimum, and is good for groups which are just starting out. You will also need a constitution (see further information, below) that states your charitable objectives, and a name.
Choose a name that describes what you do and that won’t be confused with any other organisation. If you think you may eventually raise more than £5,000 a year – at which point you must register with the Charity Commission – you will need a unique name. Search the register.
The right name will also help future donors, such as grant funders and local businesses, find information about your PTA and what it does more easily.
Call your first AGM
Give notice of your first Annual General Meeting (AGM) as required in your governing document and in a way that will reach as many potential members as possible. Invite nominations for elected officers on the committee and make sure you are familiar with how the voting process will work. On the day, vote in your new committee and adopt your constitution. If there’s no other business, set a date for the next meeting to keep things moving forward.
What support can the school offer a PTA?
A dedicated storage room or space to build a shed
Allow meetings to be held on school premises
Send emails and newsletters to parents
Announce and promote PTA events in assemblies
Appoint a school liaison to attend PTA meetings
Encourage teachers and staff to volunteer at bigger events such as fairs.
What can a PTA give back to their school?
Raise funds for important school resources
Hold fun events
Run a pre-loved uniform service or shop
Write and submit grant applications (some grants funders will only give to registered charities)
Provide a link between parents and school
Run community-building activities such as coffee mornings for the parents of new starters.
Open a bank account: Select a charity bank account and appoint designated signatories. Choosing a bank with a nearby branch makes it easier to collect floats for events.
Set some simple objectives: How much do you want to raise and how will you do it? What will the money be used for?
Hold effective meetings: Learn about what makes a good PTA meeting and decide how often you will meet.
Plan an event: Most PTAs hold events. Go to pta.co.uk for event ideas and get started.
Find answers to your questions: Read our top ten FAQs.
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