The PTA is isn’t glamorous but it’s vital for schools: OPINION
Anybody with a memory long enough to recall long school summer holidays will know how millions of children feel right now as the six-week break comes to an end.
It is not just the kids who are experiencing a severe dose of the holiday blues – teachers everywhere will be dusting off their textbooks to prepare for the long autumn term.
Once you get over the initial shock, going back to the classroom, whether you are sir, miss, the class swot or clown, can be quite exciting.Going back to school means bragging about your amazing extended break, your sharp new haircut, glowing tan and if you are a geography teacher an opportunity to show off your latest sports jacket, complete with leather elbow patches.It is a chance to pick up with old acquaintances, build new friendships and, most important of all, it is the time of year when regimented learning starts again.But it isn’t just lethargic pupils and bewildered teachers who are getting back into the swing of school life right now, there is an unheralded army of volunteers who are, once again mobilising for yet another year on the frontline. I am, of course, talking about the mums, dads, and grandparents who raise thousands of pounds for their schools each and every year.Most of you will know them as the parent teacher association or PTA and they are the people who, not before very long, will be sending out letters, emails and social media messages, asking parents to join their fundraising quest.These groups are not new and have been part of the fabric of many of our schools for decades but what is clear is that there can’t be a time when their services are in greater need than they are today.Despite dubious Government claims that more money is being spent on education than at any time in history, headteachers across the land will be sitting at their desks right now, wondering just how they are going to balance the books during the next school year.They are waiting to see whether Boris Johnson will come good on his pre-leadership pledge that he will rebalance the funding disparities which have caused so much hardship for schools across the country, prompting headteachers to march on Westminster in a bid to highlight their plight. Considering the fact that he appears to be spending all of his time playing chicken with the European Union hierarchy, I shouldn’t think he has time for a lunchtime game of wiff waff, never mind waving a magic wand over school finances.This is where I ought to declare an interest: for the past five or so years I have been fully immersed in the fundraising efforts at my daughter’s school, a task which has occupied much of my spare time in recent years.I now find myself chairing our association and am fortunate that there is a hardcore of like-minded parents at our school, something which can’t be said of every educational institution.Like every voluntary group, there are occasionally issues with a lack of man and (woman) power, but modern life is busy, and we always get support when we need it. One thing is clear: Raising money for laptops, interactive whiteboards and even stage blocks, doesn’t get any easier.Being a school fundraiser isn’t the most glamorous of roles but, these days, it is vital. Roll on the new school year.