Taking over as the new PTA Chair can be a daunting prospect. You may be starting from scratch – or wading through numerous files passed down from previous organisers. Either way, there’s a learning curve and plenty to do!
Here are our top tips for an easier start to your reign as PTA Chairperson.
1. Write a welcome letter
A welcome letter from the PTA Chair is important. Introduce yourself as the new PTA Chairperson. Start communicating with parents about events that are coming up, and explain to parents how the PTA works. There are always people who are new to schools, so don't be afraid to cover the basics.
The welcome letter from the new PTA Chair may be the first communication with school outside of the class teacher. Make it upbeat, interesting and inclusive, after all, it’s not only welcoming parents into the school community — it’s also a letter asking people to get involved and volunteer their time.
2. Get your files in order
Being the PTA Chair, essentially running a non-profit or charity, can mean a lot of paperwork. Gifts, toys, stationery, letters and permissions. Everything needs to be filed and records kept appropriately – especially if the Council is involved.
Start as you mean to go on. By sorting out someone else’s mess, you will help yourself in the long run. You may want to consider moving more of your folders online, where it's much easier to search for key words for example, to find an elusive document.
If you’ve been handed a perfect package – rejoice and enjoy the challenge of keeping it up.
3. Make provisional plans for events of the term
Before the term starts, it’s a good idea to go through the ‘usual’ program of events for the start of a new year. There will be a regular run of items such as Halloween/ Bonfire night/ Christmas that you want to plan and discuss at the first meeting. There are loads of ideas for events online. Check out this Pinterest board.
To make it really easy, PlanSocial provides a free private community hub for your PTA. You can publish your events and volunteer opportunities, and get everyone helping a little. It even provides ready-made templates for a range of events with a pre-prepared to-do list.
4. Meet with the Headteacher
Having the Headteacher on board is essential. There will be times when the PTA want to ‘borrow’ the hall, or use school rooms as meeting points, or even enlist teacher support for a new club or fundraising activity. If the Headteacher is supportive of you, the PTA and its aims, life will be a lot easier.
Remind them that you’re helping to build community spirit amongst the parents, encouraging them to support their child’s education and partner with the teaching staff… not to mention giving the school more money! It’s worth spending time and effort nurturing this relationship.
Plus, most headteacher will be pleased for parents to take the lead on this. They have enough on their plates!
5. Be visible
As PTA Chair, you are responsible for not only coordinating the fundraising activities of the school, but also to chair meetings, field questions from parents, be a point of liaison for class reps. Organising fun regular social events means you’ll help families get to know each other, and feel a shared connection to the school.
By being visible and accessible, parents will be more likely to join in and offer to help, especially if you make tasks small and manageable with a good description of what’s needed.
Using online resources such as PlanSocial can help reach out to the wider school community and make school events and volunteering opportunities more transparent, showcasing everything that you do are doing for the school and building a network of support.
6. Work with your Team.
Enlisting enough support is often the greatest challenge for new PTA Chairs. In small schools, it’s not unheard of for the Chair to be secretary and treasurer in one. Starting off with even a handful of key supporters, your term as Chair will be a lot smoother. Naturally your first port of call will be your friends.
However make sure you cast your net far and wide. Be ready with your smile — being friendly (both online and offline) is by far the biggest attractor of new volunteers. Besides, nobody likes to be accused of being a clique!
Some larger schools opt for a Class Rep system, so the PTA Chair can develop as a much more collaborative approach. Divide and conquer!
Each class will have its own needs and requirements. As a team however, being able to pull together will make all the difference.
Over to you!
Have you recently taken over as new PTA Chair? What has your experience been like? Share your top tips with us too! Email us, tweet or share your pictures and ideas with other PTA volunteers in our Q&A group for PTAs.
PlanSocial provides private community hubs for schools. Make organising events super-easy and inclusive by allowing volunteers to pick out a specific, manageable task. Connect parents in their class groups, sell tickets for events. We'll help you build and sustain a thriving school community. Start a free hub for your school community in 2 minutes.