PTAs are non-profit organisations who work with schools and the wider community to provide support and ‘a voice for all parents’. In this blog post I will outline what precisely this actually means and how it can benefit your child’s education and welfare.
The main point of a Parent Teacher Association is to provide a middle ground between teaching staff and parent and a forum for parents to voice concerns or ideas. As you probably already know, communication between parents and teachers is crucial for the successful running of schools and therefore the communication which PTAs facilitate is extremely beneficial.
In what ways do PTAs benefit schools?
- They keep the lines of communication open. Parent Teacher Associates hold an Annual General Meeting that anyone can contribute to, coordinate the production of school newsletters and work on keeping the lines of communication between teachers, parents and the wider community open.
- It improves pastoral care. There are many diverse students in schools with diverse needs and capabilities and as hard as a school tries to meet the needs of all pupils, it is a massive job. Therefore PTAs support schools’ efforts by organising regular parent led discussions on relevant topics and issues, providing a means for parents to voice both general and specific concerns as well as any opinions and ideas. The importance of the health, fitness and mental wellbeing of pupils cannot be underestimated and directly involving parents in this conversation allows the school every opportunity to be successful in its duty of care.
- They raise funds to spend on ‘extras’. PTAs collect a ‘wish list’ of ideas from the Board/Principal/Staff, at the start of the year and then together decide which extras should take priority. These extras may come in the form of enriching social events, facilities to improve health and fitness, building improvements or learning resources to make lessons more varied and dynamic. Naturally, what the funds are spent on will depend on the school in question and the needs of the children.
- PTAs provide a neutral forum. Parent Teacher Associations also serve as a way to mediate debates between parents and teachers over sensitive or controversial issues. Because it is an autonomous body, it provides an unbiased forum for everyone’s opinions, concerns and ideas to be taken into account.
- They place emphasis on collaboration. PTAs strive to build and maintain relationships and partnerships with organisations and individuals in the wider community, in order to enhance learning and allow the school to improve and progress.
Indeed, the benefits of PTAs have been proven. As the Parent Teacher Association website states “More than 85 research studies conducted over the past 30 years prove that kids do better when parents are involved. Grades are higher. Test scores improve. Attendance increases.” Of course, it makes perfect sense that parents being encouraged to take an active interest in their child’s education should boost grades and children’s attitudes towards school. Altogether, if parents and teachers utilise their school’s PTA well, the organisation can definitely enhance the quality of the school and the education the pupils receive.