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Undermining parents who use PTA

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by blackhen, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. At the end of the last three years a disgruntled parent (not the same one) has used the PTA to organise an off site event which is designed to undermine the school and humiliate me personally. I find myself excluded from the invite and my staff are put in an awkward situation. Has anyone else had problems with their PTA organising events & not consulting them? They are not for fundraising purposes & sometimes I wonder how other parents would feel if they knew how their hard earned cash was being spent. Parents are largely unaware that these events are happening without the school being advised.
    I am going to revisit the constitution and spell it out at the AGM about liaising with me before organising anything in the future. I can't dictate to them how they spend the money but I'm not convinced they are doing the best for the children. Should I ask my COG to come to the meeting too?
    It was another upsetting and stressful end to a term where I had to just keep quiet and be professional.
    Any advice would be helpful. I'm really not a control freak, this has malicious intentions with an element of bullying.

  2. I have found the best thing to do is to go to every meeting and event and keep in constant contact with the Chair. An absolute drag when they start late and ramble on but does slowly undermine this kind of thing. You might find that most of those who attend are really relieved to see you to help them battle with one or two who like to dominate. Over time you'll be able to encourage and promote them and more sensible people will join. Takes time and teeth gritting effort!
  3. I've had the same problem, new parent rose up the ranks of the PTA very quickly, became chair, put equally toxic friend in as treasurer and soon had more money than left over in my budget as they were fundraising but refusing my requests.
    I had a chat to another head friend who had a similar problem. He made his PTA put all money raised directly into the school fund. That sorted them out. I've started making little suggestions here and there to members of the mother's mafia, we'll see what happens in September!!
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I hate PTAs, I really do. I've found myself expected to put in vast amounts of time (and there's an expectation that other staff will be 'encouraged' by me to do so) and then go cap in hand for the money raised, showing appropriately large and constant gratitude.
    Under labour, being much more generously funded meant I could gently tell the PTA I didn't want them to raise funds - and I was honest that as it was largely teachers giving their time and not many parents, it wasn't fair - and got them to turn their attention to developing better relationships between parents and school.
    I suppose we're now back to the bad old days of events at which the percentage of staff vastly outweighs the percentage of parents, yet they still complain that not many staff attend.
    The best idea is to get the funding put directly into school funds.

  5. Thanks for your helpful replies. They are pretty good at handing money over & I do try to set them projects so that they can have a purpose to the fundraising.The meetings begin in school and are properly minuted but then later move to the pub and become more of a social gathering. Maybe I should insist that they are held at school to encourage wider attendance? I'm also loathe to ask my staff to attend weekend events when many have to travel long distances.None of these parents have jobs and too much time on their hands!
  6. Hair Shirt

    Hair Shirt New commenter

    Not been by here for a while but first thread i came across is this one and I can't belive what i'm reading! I assume the replies are all from heads, and I just want to point the world to his thread and say "how dare they say that"!!!! Heads, look back at what you've collectively posted and ask yourselves if you're really prouud of it. Parents give their time voluntarily and unpaid and raise money for your schools and then you heads have the nerve to complain that you are expected to be grateful. So you d@mn well should be. I'm a PTA committee member and I'm not doing it for fun you know, i'm doing it for the children. some gratitude would be appreciated, I don't have to do it. Funnily enough we do expect to have a say in how the money we raise is spent, not just give it to you heads to decide what you to spend it on. That's no different to any other fund-raising body that gives money to schools.

    So after their formal meetings some PTA members go down the pub and when they're there they might talk about you but not invite you - get real! Why should they invite you? Do you invite the PTA committee every time you you want to moan in the staffroom about the PTA?
  7. bnm


    Fine. You do it for the children. You don't do it for me. Yet you expect me to be present at all your meetings and events and, worse, you expect me to encourage other professionals to give up their precious free time to be present too.
    Why should I be grateful? I'd rather personally donate £50 a year and spend my precious free time with my own family rather than at work-related events.
  8. bnm


    And....why should I be grateful? What do I get out of it?
  9. bnm-how have you made it work well in the past? My PTA are now brilliant and I support them and they can see if the staff and I are knackered. In the past parents and staff had problems with aggressive leaders of the PTA but we quietly and politely got that sorted over time. Less friction and more brilliant ideas welcome all round!
  10. bnm


    Where the PTA had strong and able members running it, they successfully organised events independently and I delicately suggested which might have the backing of teaching staff and which might not. I attended all their meeting and did resent the time but did it for good working relations. I was happy to leave that aspect of the job behind, though.
    Where the PTA hasn't had good parental leadership I have attended the meetings but made stronger suggestions for "easy" money-raisers (eg cake stall on the playground) rather than very time-consuming and labour-intensive events (eg. summer fair on a Saturday afternoon). Getting the PTA channelled into making funding bids has also been successful.
    When all's said and done, an extra 3 children on roll on census day makes more money than a year's worth of PTA slog.
  11. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Whenever I've been under pressure from the PTA to 'force' more staff to attend their barn dances, etc, I've said 'I can raise several times the profit you clear by having one non-uniform day - why should staff want to pay for the privilege of returning to school on a Saturday night?'
  12. Hair Shirt

    Hair Shirt New commenter

    You heads relly do think the world revolves around you. those parents eh, what a nusiance we are, wanting to run summer fairs and things. Just give us £50 to go away and stop bothering you. Why don't you just hang a big sign over the school gate 'Parental engagement and community involvement not welcome here except on heads term's. I could have sworn Michael Gove said schools are ultimately accountable to their parents and local community. Not in yours obviously. No wonder you have problems with your PTAs if you try and micro manage them like this, as if they were just the unpaid wing of your staff.
  13. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Schools are accountable for the results they achieve, not for how many staff turn up to the PTA barn dance. Know any other professions where their clients or customers expect them to pay to turn up to their place of work on weekends in order to raise money to do their jobs?
  14. I have worked for PTAs in MANY schools. As a HT, I have worked directly with my school's PTA under the leadership of 2 different people. I say "leadership" because they are in charge of the ethos and drive of the PTA and, just like there are good HTs and bad HTs, there are good Chairs of PTAs and bad Chairs of PTA.
    From my experience....
    Chair 1 was bad- I tried real hard to work with Chair 1. I believe that a good PTA is an assesst to the school and was keen to have this an assesst of this school. But, WOW, it was a major pain the WHOLE time. It was an up hill battle. The Chair and Vice Chair were rude and disrepectful to the teachers and other parents (if you weren't in their little click). They would DEMAND that staff do certain things during time that teachers were suppose to be TEACHING their children. When I refused and explained that this is not possible, they would become angry. I really tried to get tried to get to meetings. However, they would make meetings so very late and then change times and dates at the last minute. They would ask me what we could use the money on and then go and do the exact opposite! I always kept a smile. But, over a few years the profits they made from activities kept falling and fewer and fewer parents wanted to be part of such an organisation. Nearly the entire PTA resigned in one go!

    Chair 2 was good- Chair 2 decided to take over the PTA and within a month they had more members than the old Chair ever had. They were proactive and met with me on a very regular basis. They were polite and thankful to the staff and the staff gave up of their time freely and happily. They asked me what I felt the money was needed to be spent on and it was! They kept their faces happy and positive on the playground and the PTA moved from strength to strength.

    Hair.... I am not sure which one you are. But, there are tinges of my Chair 1 in what you are saying. Yes, I am accountable to a lot of people, including parents. However, I am have the duty to run the school how I feel is the best for ALL children. The PTA should NEVER be used as a form of accountablity. That is why we have a governing body and on that governing body, parents. Their is a proper form of communication and, if you feel necessary, complaints.
    What the OP has described is terrible. The PTA also must be accountable to the parents. If money, raised under the guise of supporting the school is being used to fund drinking at the local pub, then I question their leadership and parents should know that they are paying the tab.

  15. I'm glad someone else finds the pub and social events uncomfortable. I know heads who love all this and join in with enthusiasm in the midst of innuendo, offensive jokes and excruciating dances and bingo nights. I'm quite open with the PTA about not joining in with this and I think they can relax more without me and are quite happy with a square for a Head! Let us know how you get on next term.
  16. I agree! No matter how lovely the PTA are (and ours are) they are not my friends and I prefer not to meet in the pub! I know that they see it as a bit of a social event but alternate between school and pub so I go to every other meeting.

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