Label P LB J20

Chair: Seaford Primary School

Carol Edwards, Seaford Primary School, Seaford, East Sussex (485 pupils)

Running your PTA

  • How many people are there on your committee? 4 trustees and 32 members
  • How long have you been Chair? 14 years on the committee, 7 years as Chair
  • When is your busiest time of year? All year! We hold events every half term, plus extra bits in between, so we're always busy
  • When is your quietest time of year? Quiet? What's that!
  • How hands-on are you as a Chair? I am very hands-on! I do a lot of the work myself, but also delegate as well. We work as a team, and I think that's really important.
  • What is your relationship like with the school and the staff? Excellent. We meet regularly to discuss things and they are very supportive of the PTA.

Tips and advice

  • What's the best piece of advice you received before taking on the role? "Don't do it!"  Thank goodness I didn't listen!
  • What advice will you pass on to your successor? Do what you can, when you can, none of us are 'super-mums'. Most of all - enjoy it!
  • What do you wish you'd known before becoming Chair? I wish I'd known exactly how much work is involved
  • What have you personally gained from being Chair? Being Chair involves so much more than just running events. I have gained communication skills, event organisation, Health & Safety knowledge, sales skills, listening skills, computer skills, and so much more!
  • What is the best thing about being Chair? Working with other parents and putting together great events is so rewarding, especially when you see how happy the children are at these events. I also love seeing the children's reactions when we reveal what we have bought for the school!
  • What do you think makes a good Chair? I'd like to think I am easy to work with! I make sure I listen to everyone's ideas and wishes, and put them into place where possible. I run a tight ship so to speak, but make sure everyone is happy and listen when they are not.
  • What challenges do you face? Working with 'difficult characters' can be tough. Dealing with complaints from parents is also very hard sometimes, especially when you have put everything into organising an event and then a few parents complain. But you can't please everyone, so I shrug it off and move onto next event! I have developed a tough shell.

Challenges in the role

  • What is the most daunting task you've had to undertake? This isn't really 'daunting' but arranging risk assessments, public liability insurance for each event is sometimes challenging!
  • Have you ever had an instance where you have had to challenge the school's decision(s)? A couple of times, yes! But I met with them and discussed everything and a compromise was made to suit us all.
  • Have you ever had an instance where an Officer was not fulfilling their role, and was refusing to step down? Yes. I think just discussing their role and the expectations of it does help. We recruited extra people and turned these into shared role to help the situation.
  • How do you go about handling any animosity/disagreements in your committee? Thankfully, I haven't had any serious situations like this. But the odd slight disagreement is usually sorted by discussion and compromise.

Boosting support

  • How do you go about recruiting volunteers for events? We have a good team and a lot of members, so finding help for most events isn't a problem. For the bigger events such as Christmas and summer fayres, we usually put a letter out to parents asking for an hour of their time. We also use Facebook to recruit and ask people face-to-face asking in the playground. When parents are greeted by me and my clipboard a week before the fayre, parents find it hard to say 'no'!
  • How do you go about boosting morale and motivating your committee? Our committee morale is usually pretty good, but I always make sure I personally thank everyone for helping at each event. It is important for them to know that their time is appreciated. Our PTA is called 'MAD', which stands for 'Making A Difference', but we do take pride in calling ourselves the MAD ladies!
  • How do you welcome new families to the school? We don't have a 'welcome' event as such, but always attend the welcome meetings for parents held by the school, as well as open days to introduce ourselves. We usually hold a back-to-school disco in September for all the children, which new parents are able to come along to with their children.  

Stepping down

  • How long do you intend on being Chair? My youngest son is now in Year 5, so I only have another year after this one as a parent. I intend to finish when he does, although I don't think the school is too happy about this!
  • How long did you plan on being Chair when you started, and has this changed since taking on the role? Only for a couple of years - it's a good job that I love what I do!
  • Did you shadow the previous Chair before taking on the role? No - I was the PTA Secretary on the committee before taking on the role of Chair, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was letting myself in for.
  • Do you intend on having your successor shadow you in the role before you step down? That is the plan! It would be great if my successor could shadow me for my last year and then take over; it's just finding a successor that is the tricky part!

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