Good succession planning is crucial. Anticipate which members of your committee might step down this year, and start warming up other members (or new volunteers) to take over.
Membership for all
The membership of a PTA is designed to be inclusive so that all parents, carers and staff at the school are automatically members. This is a fantastic foundation for PTA success, but make sure everyone feels like a member and is involved. Successful PTAs tend to be those that have a modest-sized committee but have a large number of volunteers to call on for events. Make sure the PTA is as visible, accessible and as welcoming as possible. Maintain constant communication with all parents to get their input, to let them know what you're planning and to report back on successes. Use our parents' questionnaire template to canvas interest in different events, discover what skills parents might be able to offer, and how much time they can spare to help.
There are differences between a Parents' Association (PA), Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Home School Association (HSA) and Friends or Community Association. It's important that you define your membership. Your elected committee members will fall into two types - Officers (chair, treasurer, secretary) and Ordinary (the rest of the elected committee team). All have equal voting rights, except the chair, who has a casting vote. You are required to have a minimum of a chair and treasurer, but there is no maximum limit. Every committee member is legally responsible for managing your association, and if your PTA is a registered charity, all elected committee members automatically become trustees with a legal duty to ensure that your association meets requirements. Visit charity-commission.gov.uk for details.
Having at least two parent representatives from each class can help spread the workload and will prevent your association from appearing cliquey. Invite parents to take on the role for a minimum of a term and invite them along to meetings. Can class reps organise an event each year, calling on the rest of the parents from that year group to help? Use testimonials from PTA+ Magazine to help inspire less experienced volunteers, and make sure they know that they can count on committee members for support and guidance.
It's important to remember that this is a team effort! Be realistic about what is possible for each committee member to do personally and don't over-commit. Undertake a skills audit of committee members to find out what others bring to the table, and make sure you play to their strengths. If there is something missing, consider a targeted drive to recruit additional members or volunteers. Agree who will take responsibility for each activity - those with less time may offer to run the 100 club or manage recycling collections, while others may form sub-committees for bigger events - race nights, fairs etc.
Anticipate which members of your committee might step down this year, and start warming up other members to take over their responsibilities. Encourage any outgoing committee members to invite 'guests' along to a few meetings or to start warming up other members to take over their responsibilities. Speak to teaching staff for specific recommendations of parents who might be willing to get more involved with the PTA - they will hopefully be flattered to have been suggested, making it harder to say no! Identify any gaps in skills that might appear once experienced members leave, and put out a targeted appeal. Be specific - this might be someone to design posters for events or someone to take over as treasurer - and outline roughly what commitment will be required. Factor in a handover period where newer members can shadow more experienced ones, as this will ensure continuity as well as giving confidence and reassurance to less experienced volunteers. Use our 10 reasons why we need you template to put out a general appeal for more support - after all, many hands make light work!
- If you have any suggestions you'd like to share with other PTAs, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.