THE PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) conjures up images of smiling American mums fundraising for a new state of the art gym or Olympic sized swimming pool for their little darlings.
Unfortunately, as a school secretary, I know the reality is not like a Hollywood movie and UK schools are more likely to be in shares with a neighbouring school for a minibus that is almost guaranteed to pass its next MOT.
The head of the PTA will most likely be someone quite forceful; not quite a Karen, more a Kerry, someone who will go out of their way to appear very approachable but has a will of iron underneath and who does not like hearing no from other parents.
They will know the Headteacher on a first name basis and regularly drop it into conversation with other parents, just to show how important they are to the school.
This person (man or woman, but let’s face it, it is normally women who take up the reins of any school related activities) will more than likely go overboard in trying to rustle up support for the PTA and any events that are being organised.
They are not a villain needing to be overcome by a wilful protagonist (again, not a Hollywood movie) but they are likely to make some parents feel inadequate with their…well let’s call it enthusiasm, for the task.
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Tombolas, raffles, coffee mornings, evening socials – seriously, who wants to socialise with other parents from school? – they are all in the repertoire of the head of the PTA.
Any way there is a chance for extra dosh to be put into the coffers of a school’s budget will be explored.
And woe betide if you as a parent cannot, or do not want to, get involved!
The underlings of the PTA are amongst your midst, hiding in plain sight in the school playground, loudly declaring, “It’s such a shame we haven’t raised another £50 / £100 / £500, maybe next year the children can get pencils / proper toilet paper / a deluxe obstacle course.”
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The problem with the PTA is that they have to rely on the goodwill of all the parents in school.
Whether it is bringing your offspring along to the Summer Jamboree and spending a fortune on tat that will grace your home for approximately three weeks before being offloaded to the local charity shop, or giving up your evenings baking some sub-par confections that you will invariably end up buying back at the school bake sale for three times what you paid for the ingredients, you will constantly find yourself with your hand in your pocket.
The trouble is, as the cost of living crisis bites, fewer parents are able to cough up £3.50 for some Asda brand cherry bakewells, that they don’t even want, that another poor soul has been forced to donate.
The head of the PTA will most likely be someone quite forceful; not quite a Karen, more a Kerry
This pressure to provide can be very difficult for some parents, especially if you have got PTA Kerry constantly on your back, trying to be helpful; “donating your time is as valuable as money.”
It’s really not Kerry, I’ve seen the price of those minibuses.
The PTA does mean well, but they wouldn’t have to do the amount of fundraising they do if our schools were adequately funded in the first place.
And we parents wouldn’t have to shell out constantly on Tombola tickets… to never win anything.
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