A PTA is a great way to bring together parents, teachers and your local community to raise funds and to support the school. Setting up a PTA is a more straightforward process than you might think - first generate interest; then decide what you want your association to achieve and formalise the group around that; then start your fundraising and other school community activities.
Follow our eight step guide and your association will be up and running in no time.
PTAs are most successful when they work in partnership with the school. So get a few interested parents together and arrange to speak to someone in the school about setting up a PTA. This could be the Head, member of the leadership team or a teacher – someone to talk through your objectives with.
What if the school isn't keen on the idea of a PTA?
If your school seems resistant to the idea, try to find out why. Perhaps they've had a bad experience in the past, or maybe they think it will be too much work for the teachers. Explain how you want to support the school and your children's education. Make the point that children do better when their parents are engaged, and most schools recognise that a PTA and involved parents are a force for good.
More guidance on working with the school
Once you've got the school on-board and a core group of parents who can push the project of starting a PTA forward, call a slightly more formal meeting to find out how many more parents would be interested in getting involved.
How do I call the meeting?
Make sure all parents have the opportunity to join you right from the start. Pick a time and venue that will suit as many parents as possible, and ask the school to send a letter home to all parents for you explaining who you are, that you're starting a PTA and inviting them to an informal meeting to discuss ideas and gauge interest.
Once you've got the support of the school and a bunch of eager parents, it's time to call an annual general meeting (AGM) to formally set up your new PTA and its committee.
How do we set up a PTA committee?
You'll elect your committee - chair, secretary, treasurer and ordinary committee members - at your first AGM. The committee are then responsible for the day to day running of the association. When you start a PTA, make sure all parents, teachers and staff know they are members of your association, and welcome to join in, but they don't all have to be committee members.
More guidance on your first AGM, and on setting up your PTA committee.
It's a good idea to have a constitution - a document laying out how your association will be governed - for your PTA in place right from the start, so consider adopting one at your first AGM. A constitution is a set of rules your association agrees to follow. It sounds a bit formal, but it provides a very useful framework to help your new committee run the association effectively.
Where can I find a PTA constitution?
Parentkind members can adopt the Parentkind Model Constitution, which is approved by the Charity Commission, making registering your PTA as a charity much easier. We have two versions, one for use in England in Wales, and another for Northern Ireland.
More guidance on what a constitution is and why you might need one.
When you're up and running after the AGM, it's time to send a message out to all of the school community telling them about the new group, introducing your new committee (tip: include photos and contact numbers) and explaining how people can get involved. If you've set a date for your first PTA meeting, let everyone know it now.
How do I let everyone know we've started a PTA?
Use everything at your disposal! Noticeboards, emails, posters, texts, flyers in book bags, a stall in the playground - try it all. Our members tell us the best ways to get people involved are face to face contact and social media. So make sure parents know who you are, and set up a Facebook group to share what the group is doing.
More guidance on running PTA meetings (Parentkind member only).
As a new PTA you probably won't have any money, so how do you get going? Talk to the school to see if they could lend you some money to get started, or hold an event that doesn't involve any initial outlay. A good old-fashioned cake sale or coffee morning could be the way to start. Both are easy to organise and good at drawing in a crowd.
When can our PTA start fundraising, and how should we manage the money?
Your group can start raising funds for the school as soon as it is set up. PTAs are separate from the school, and are responsible for managing the funds they raise, so once your committee is in place you (or your Treasurer) should start looking into setting up a PTA bank account.
More guidance on running PTA events, and on managing PTA funds (Parentkind member only).
Good communication is the key to building and sustaining a successful PTA. Everyone in the school needs to feel that the PTA belongs to them, and they belong to the PTA. Let everyone know when meetings are being held, provide regular updates on events, projects and opportunities to volunteer, and tell people how funds are being used.
Who does our PTA need to communicate with?
Everyone! All parents and teachers are automatically members of a PTA, and membership can be wider if you start up a Friends Association or PTFA. Think beyond mums dads and carers - grandparents, older siblings and other members of the wider community can also be a great source of support.
More guidance on engaging with parents and the school community (Parentkind member only).
As well as your constitution, there are a number of areas your new committee should discuss early on, such as safeguarding, insurance, licences, health and safety, and, a bit further down the line, charity registration.
More guidance on:
At Parentkind we're here to help your PTA get off to a flying start. Schools and parents that become members are supported right from the beginning of their group, with step by step guidance through starting a PTA.
First, check that your school isn't already a member - search for my school.
If you're not yet a member, take a look at all the benefits of joining (including support getting your PTA up and running), request more information or call our Member Support Line on 0300 123 5460 - we're here Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
If you are already a member of Parentkind, there's plenty of help and advice available on all aspects of managing a PTA in our Advice Hub, or you can ring the Member Support Line with any questions, email them on firstname.lastname@example.org, or ask our lively Facebook community on our Parentkind Facebook page.
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