It’s a fact of PTA life that no one stays forever. To avoid sudden skills shortages that create work and worry, focus on identifying, developing and nurturing talent to fill positions likely to exist in the future.
Committee members often know the length of their intended tenure, so there’s plenty of time to begin mentoring a replacement. While there’s no cast-iron guarantee that any particular person will be voted in, the reality is usually joy that someone is enthusiastic about taking the job.
PTA membership is designed to be inclusive, so make sure everyone knows how to get involved. Use our parents’ questionnaire template to canvass interest in different events, discover the range of skills parents can offer, and how much time they can spare to help.
Ask supporters for their input, let them know what you’re planning and report back on your success. The more obvious the benefits, the more people will engage with you. Be welcoming, encourage diversity and avoid cliques.
About the committee
Be clear about your committee roles and their associated responsibilities so that supporters can choose the position that’s right for them. Elected committee members 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. Every committee member is legally responsible for managing your association. 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.
Look out for talent
- Recruit new helpers regularly and watch out for those with relevant skills and the right temperament for the roles of chair, treasurer and secretary, as well as non-officer roles such as social media lead and designer.
- Identify any skills gaps that might appear once experienced members leave, and put out a targeted appeal.
- Families who are new to the school can bring new energy and enthusiasm and are worth getting to know, ideally face to face.
- Ask teaching staff for specific recommendations of parents who might be willing to get more involved with the committee – they will be flattered to have been suggested, making it harder to say no!
- Encourage outgoing committee members to invite ‘guests’ along to a few meetings.
Encourage new skills
Invite potential committee members to a meeting where you can demonstrate the workings of the PTA. Emphasise the camaraderie and creativity of your group to give them a better sense of the work involved. Discuss ongoing projects and listen to what they have to say.
Class reps: Class reps help spread the workload and the role gives supporters a taste of how things are done. Ask parents to become class reps for a minimum of a term and invite them along to meetings. Make sure they know that they can count on committee members for support and guidance. If someone is willing to do more, team them up with a mentor who can show them the ropes.
Delegate: Running a PTA is a team effort! The stronger your team, the more support is available when someone leaves. Form sub-committees for fairs and bigger events. Make sure volunteers aren’t left out because they don’t know how the process.
Plan a handover period where new committee members can shadow more experienced ones will ensure continuity and give confidence and reassurance to less experienced volunteers.
No one should feel guilty about stepping down and neither should they be made to feel bad. PTA positions are demanding, and parents – particularly those engaged with PTA work – will respect their achievements. Let them know their work is appreciated.