Schools plead with parents for PTA participation

Schools can lose out on money for trips and events without PTAs; two schools in Oxfordshire have resorted to begging parents via letters to get involved as their own associations collapse, according to Oxford Mail

Two schools have sent out desperate pleas to parents warning that their parent-teacher associations (PTAs) are about to disband, and that this could seriously impact the ability to pay for trips and events in the face of funding cuts.
A report by the Sutton Trust recently found that parent participation in their children’s schools is ‘notably lower’ than five years ago. The Henry Box School in Witney and Abbey Woods Academy in Berinsfield hope to slow this trend by pleading with parents to get involved.
The head teacher of Abbey Woods, Grant Mottram, said in his letter to parents that it would be a ‘pity and a loss to the children’ if the school’s PTA was forced to disband.

Writing in a newsletter, he added:

“I heard with sadness that the PAWs [Parents of Abbey Wood] group is standing down and disbanding.

“PAWs contributed so much in terms of events and money to buy the few extra items the children needed.

“I would urge you to get together and see if this can be resurrected and supported by a wider group of mums and dads as the current team has been rather small and lacked support from others.”

Many PTAs are also registered charities and play a key role in fundraising, organising social events and bridging the gap between staff and parents.

Henry Box School Association made a similar plea to Abbey Woods, stating:

“Nearly all the current committee would like to stand down as some no longer have children at the school and four have been actively involved since [the association] launched in April 2015.

“Without a committee the PTA cannot operate and will fold, so please consider putting yourself forward.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Layla Moran, who is also a governor at Botley School, said the situation was ‘worrying’.

She added: “It’s really clear that schools with high engagement with parents do better – it does raise attainment.”

Even at 630-pupil Windmill Primary School in Headington, previous years have proved a struggle for PTA numbers. Head teacher, Lynn Knapp, said:

“Even with a large group of parents we have still gone through phases of saying ‘unless somebody steps in and replaces the treasurer or chair, we can’t keep it going.’

“You get groups of people who come through and are very proactive, and others who sit in the background.

“Working parents have less time to devote to these things, and the responsibility that comes with it can be quite a big commitment.”

“Many parents say they don’t have the time or opportunity to get involved, and in some instances, mums and dads may feel they don’t have the skills to help.

“Getting involved in the school PTA can help parents learn new skills, raise funds to support and enrich their children’s learning, and build community.

“If time is limited there are so many other ways in which to engage too.”

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