When it comes to acronyms, PTA is not one I ever expected to start using on a regular basis.
Vague memories of women in flowery skirts selling cakes at my primary school summer fête blur with the recollection of dads passing a hat round to chuck coins in after the annual Christmas play.
The Parent Teachers Association (or Friends Of as the cool kids now call themselves) are the people that hang bunting round the school gates in the summer and sell you cakes when you really don’t want them, aren’t they? Aren’t they? Well, apparently they’re not.
The second your child starts school you are flung into the pleading world of PTA requests. Can you do this? Could you do that? We need help with this. We want people to do that. Don’t they know I’m busy enough already?
My son’s first year at school flew by and - with ninja levels of avoidance - I managed to dodge committing to anything more than donating a few cakes for the Christmas bazaar and watching a couple of assemblies
When I received the regular ‘come to our meeting’ mails from the PTA I quickly clicked delete and got back to my busy life.
It was only when I chatted to a fellow mum at the school gates that the whole world of PTA really became clear.
I’ll explain: She was normal.
She didn’t have a beard or one of those screechy voices that wannabe-but-never-quite-made-it-as-a-teacher people often adopt. She wasn’t pushy or weird. She just said: “Thing is, for every little bit I do, I’m making the school a better place for my kids. By helping out I’m giving them a better education. Why wouldn’t I?”
Why wouldn’t I?
The words rang through my ears as I began to wonder whether joining the PTA might actually be something I could enjoy…
“You should see his face when I walk past his classroom, it’s pure joy,” not-weird-and-actually-very-normal-other-mum had told me. “It won’t be long until he’s embarrassed to be seen with me – I love that it makes him so happy to see me at school events, it makes his day.”
Food for thought indeed.
I went along to an ‘open meeting’ and was saddened to see that out of more than 400 kids at my son’s school it seemed only three had a mum or dad willing to take a few minutes to hear what they could do to help the school. There and then I decided I would ditch my ostrich impression and become a fully-fledged PTAer.
We’re all busy. We all work, we all have commitments, but why does the modern-day parent find ot harder to commit a few hours a month to the future of their child than to beating a stranger at Words With Friends?
Autumn term started and I signed up.
Now, just four months later, thanks to hard work and a great team, our PTA has raised in excess of £10,000 already – money that will go directly to the school to pay for vital resources for the classrooms. Things they simpl can’t afford any more thanks to the Government cutting funding right, left and centre. Without the PTA my son’s school simply could not provide learning essentials like maths tools and books for the library, let alone a mini bus to transport them to outside events like trips to the theatre and visits to local businesses.They now have a mini bus, and it’s all thanks to the PTA.
On top of forthcoming discos and movie nights is a full-blown circus event to be held on the school field. Our tiny team of twelve or so people has set it sights high in the hope we can raise more than ever before.
So yes, it can take up some of your spare time, and yes, it sometimes takes a bit of work. But the rewards you reap, both financially for your child’s school and emotionally for yourself and your children, are well worth the time.
I’m a proper PTA mum now, something I never thought I would say, and you know what? I’m bloody proud.