The benefits of joining a PTA

Group of mums
Why should a parent join the PTA? National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA) communications manager Laura Warren explains.

Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) are an active part of school life for schools across the country. Many thousands of parents volunteer to join in with PTA activities at their child's school, giving their time and energy to fundraising and working in partnership with the school.

The National Confederation Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA) is the umbrella organisation for PTAs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. With a current membership of around 13,000, it represents the voice of more than seven million parents and teachers. Membership fees are based on the size of the school (ranging from £55 - £95 a year) and provide subscription-linked £10 million public liability insurance plus many other benefits.

Founded in 1956 and a registered charity, the NCPTA aims to promote effective partnerships between parents and teachers which support learning opportunities at home and school.

The role of the PTA

PTA activity will vary from school to school. Almost all PTAs are involved in fundraising and most will organise social events for parents and children. Many provide helpers for outings and special events and a large number run clubs for sport, music or drama. Some PTAs will organise meetings to inform parents about education issues, too, particularly when changes are taking place.

Recent figures show that PTAs raise over £73 million a year, providing funds to improve the school experience for millions of children in both the primary and secondary sector - from buying skipping ropes for playtime to equipping an ICT suite.

This achievement makes a real difference to schools and their pupils, providing extra resources and, in some cases, making it possible for activities such as school trips to happen.

A successful PTA will bring together parents and teachers who are interested in supporting the school. Meetings are usually very informal with event planning and organising the main focus. PTAs tend to meet a couple of times each term with an extra meeting just before an event. Meetings may be held at school but some PTAs get together at a local pub to make it more of a social gathering

The importance of involving parents

Research has shown that parental involvement has a very significant impact on a child's achievement and attainment at school.

A successful PTA provides parents and teachers with the opportunity to exchange views, work together and to develop mutual trust and confidence. The NCPTA supports this success with a wide range of information and practical guidance.

In a world where everyone's time is precious getting people to join a PTA can be daunting task. But all parents and teachers can get involved, even if they only have a small amount of time available.

The lifecycle of a PTA committee will vary. Some members may stay involved for ten years or more - particularly if they have subsequent children attending the school. Others may stay for a few years and then move on.