Secondary Success: PTFA helps new school get off to a good start

Key summary

New school ensured that parental engagement was built in to their ethos from the start.

Breda Academy is a new school borne from the amalgamation of two local high schools and was opened in September 2015.

As Breda Academy was keen to engage parents from the outset to help build a cohesive school community, they agreed to take part in the Building Stronger Communities through Volunteering in Schools project at the same time as opening their doors.

This entailed encouraging parent volunteering in the school as part of a new parent, teachers and friends association (PTFA). To show his support and encourage parents to take part, the Principal [Head Teacher] used the local media to promote the new PTFA and the project to the local community.

One risk a newly-amalgamated school faces is having parents with allegiances to one of the former schools. This was addressed by the PTFA running a number of events which welcomed all parents into the school and providing training opportunities for volunteers (including grant-funding and Reading Partnership).

Parents and Teacher Partnership

By the end of the academic year both parents and staff reported the difference the new group had made: staff noted how the relationships with parents had improved. Parents conveyed similar enthusiasm, telling how they felt they were regarded as partners in their children's education and were now more confident about approaching school staff.

The PTFA has gone from strength to strength with both social events and a new Facebook page helping to engage a growing number of parents.

The school responded by introducing the very successful Launch Evenings. Parents from all year groups are now invited into school each September: “Teenagers are notoriously bad at keeping their parents in the loop so the heads of year go through key dates, any exams that may be coming up, or any major trips. It’s a great way for parents to be kept informed and involved. ”

I really think that if you want your child to do well at school, you need to feel comfortable with the school yourself and get involved. The PTA has opened up a gateway for positive engagement in the school.

This was one of four schools that took part in our Building Stronger Communities through volunteering project in 2015/16.

Fact File
  • PTA name: Friends of Breda Academy
  • School name: Breda Academy, Belfast
  • Age range: 11-18 years
  • Country: Northern Ireland
  • School type: Secondary
  • Size: 900

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