I’ve just finished my role as joint chair of the school PTA. No, this is not about me blowing my own trumpet or showing off, it’s about me trying to inspire and encourage more parents to get involved with their school’s PTA because at the end of the day, all our children benefit from the work done by the Parents and Teachers Association at your school.
When Elsi was a toddler she attended the Cylch Meithrin. I was full of admiration for the staff and was so grateful for their care that I wanted to do all I could to give something back. Knowing your toddler and child is in a safe and happy environment is everything to us working parents, and it allows us to keep working and build our own careers without worrying about our children. It was therefore a no brainer that myself and my friends who also had children at the Cylch, would attend the meetings and try to help as much as we could.
I was astonished when I attended the first meeting. Considering that around 20 – 30 kids attended the Cylch, only a handful of parents attended the meeting. I understand that it’s not always easy, especially for single parents and those who work in the evenings, but I did expect more people to attend and to support. Despite the fact that myself and my friends worked full time and had many other commitments, we volunteered to be the committee, the staff said that without a committee the Cylch could not operate and that was not an option for any of us.
When Elsi started school, I expected the situation to be different. With over 400 children in her school I thought the PTA would have parents tripping over each other to volunteer to be on the committee and to help with fundraising events and so on, unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Having been joint chair this year, I’ve been really grateful that we’ve had the support and dedication of the other committee members, but have been really disappointed that it’s always the same people who turn up and volunteer to help – and usually the busiest people!
I’ve spoken to friends across Wales and England and it seems like it’s a common issue across the country. I really can’t understand why more people don’t volunteer to be part of the PTA and to support the schools where their children spend the majority of their time in the school term.
The PTA fundraises and makes decisions that affect all our children’s lives at the school. The PTA raises money to support and allow our children to enjoy extra-curricular activities, school trips and so on. The PTA fundraises to allow schools to buy new educational resources and items that schools would not be able to buy otherwise, these provide our children with new and exciting resources and items which help their educational and personal development. The PTA does a lot for all our children so I just can’t understand why all parents don’t get involved?
For me, another important part of being in the PTA is to be there to help and support the teachers. I can’t emphasise enough how much respect I have for teachers. These people spend their daily life making a real difference to all our children. They don’t have an easy job, but they get up every day to spend endless hours every week helping and supporting our children and in my opinion, they don’t get paid enough for what they do.
I will be forever grateful to everyone who has helped, supported and taken care of Elsi during her time at school, and if being part of the PTA allows me to give something small back to these amazing teachers to ensure they have the best support and resources, then I will make damn sure that I can spend a couple of hours a month chairing a meeting, organising an event or baking cakes and manning a stall.
Public speaking and looking after finances may not be your thing, you may not like marshalling in the rain or baking cakes but we all have something to offer the PTA.
Please raise your hands in September, your children and their teachers will be so grateful for your support and you can hold your head up high knowing that you’ve done your bit to help your children and their friends along the way.
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.