The Friends of Edenderry (or ‘FoE’ has its known in the school) PTA’s goal is to 'enrich the lives of all the school's pupils’ and have achieved a great deal through effective partnerships between with the school and local community.
Johnny Breen, Secretary of the Friends of Edenderry (FoE), told us: "Our PTA has a strong visual presence in school. We have all been driven and inspired by our Chairperson, Mechelle Harshaw. One or more of our committee members is in school a number of times each week. We also have two noticeboards in school, and we send updates to parents and guardians."
The school is extremely supportive of its PTA: "We have buy-in from all parts of the school. That runs right from the Principal [Headteacher] through all levels of staff. At least one of the Senior Management Team attends every meeting, along with two teachers and classroom assistants."
The FoE’s have raised substantial amounts of money over the last three years to help with many aspects of school life. A dedicated group of parents and staff, for example, painted 14 classrooms during the weekends. The only cost to the school was materials. As well as achieving a saving of around £7,000, FoE benefited from a sense of satisfaction and knowing that teachers and pupils really appreciated their brighter and cleaner learning environment.
A key to FoE’s success is good organisation: "The committee members are constantly talking to each other about upcoming events. Most of us have been involved for around five years, and we have a good idea of what each of us has to do."
The PTA has also successfully forged links with local media and businesses. “Banbridge is a relatively small town so there is a readiness in the community to help local schools, including our own. We have tremendous links with businesses people in town. Many attended the school in years gone by, or have children in attendance now. We also publicise every event to the local press. They often come along to take photographs, and it is rare that FoE is not in the local paper a few times a month. We thank all our sponsors: it does not take much, but I think it is beneficial."
Dedication, impact and fun too!
Reaching this stage takes hard work and dedication, but it can also be great fun. "I would say it has taken us about five years to really build to where we are now. We are determined to do as much as possible to enrich the lives of the pupils in school. If you have volunteers and school buy-in, you can achieve a great deal. In times of very tight budget, a community impression that Edenderry is a vibrant seat of learning helps keep classrooms full! We will never rest on our laurels, we will always do our absolute best for Edenderry, and we will keep on enjoying what we do!"
This is a great example of a vibrant school community where the PTA is maximising its effectiveness by:
- Maintaining a high profile among parents and staff
- Encouraging a range of volunteers to use their skills and take part
- Being highly organised
- Engaging the local community, businesses and the media
- Having fun and gaining satisfaction while working hard
- Remembering to acknowledge and thank those that help out.