The school had a PTA in existence but it only focused on fundraising and had not registered as a charity. They then took part in the Building Stronger Communities through Volunteering in Schools project.
The school leadership team felt that training the PTA volunteers would help the potential of the parent group to be better realised.
Training was provided as well as a wide range of opportunities to allow mums and dads to get involved - however much or little time they had.
The newly-named Branches of Woodlawn divided its work into four: fundraising, external funding, community events and volunteering to support, for example, the Better Reading Club - overseen by a PTA management committee of eight parents and four teachers. The school reported a significant change in the home-school relationship with families as a result. With more than 30 parents volunteering each week, Branches of Woodlawn is going from strength to strength.
Stronger school community boosts learning too
Many of the parents involved in the initiative have reported that it has changed the way they supported their children at home as well. The Vice Principal Maureen Campbell's view is that the school is no longer an island in the middle of an estate, but a hub where the community is active inside and outside the school walls, for the benefit of the children. Maureen feels the dynamics in the school and community have changed too: school attendance is improving; parents help to lock up the school at night; people who never volunteered before are now offering their services; and the children love to help teachers with small jobs after school hours whilst their parents are volunteering in the clubs.
"Volunteering really boosted my confidence … I’ve gone from being a stay at home mum to someone with something to do."
This school was one of four that participated in our project delivered in partnership with the Department for Communities. This was awarded the European Parent’s Association Alcuin Award in 2016.
The Branches of Woodlawn’s achievements included:
- Registering as a charity
- Social and fundraising events
- Won external funding to secure new outdoor play resources
- Reading partnership – training parents to support reading in the classroom
- Parent volunteers supporting after-school clubs.
Read the project summary here.