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A welcome mat

New parent welcome packs

Starting school can be an intimidating time for new starters, but it can be just as daunting for their parents. The moral support of those who know all the ins and outs of the school is invaluable, so be there to offer support and advice, while raising the profile of your PTA.

The summer term might seem early to start thinking about welcome packs, but this is a good time to send them. Ask whether a document from the PTA can be included with the school's information. If you haven't already got your welcome pack together, you're not too late; packs can be given to new parents at the start of term, or even at your first PTA event of the year.

This is a prime opportunity to highlight to new starters just how crucial your PTA is to the school. But remember to keep it snappy - parents have a lot of demands on their time, so stick to the key nuggets of information. Those who are genuinely interested in getting hands-on with the PTA can always be given more detail at a later date. And remember that you want to dispel the myth that the PTA are a bunch of boring do-gooders! So use quotes, humour and photos of people having a wild and fabulous time! The important things to include are:

  • Why the school has a PTA - ideally with an endorsement from the Head
  • Recent events and amounts raised
  • Resources or educational experiences that the PTA has funded
  • How parents can stay up-to-date with PTA activities, including links to social media pages, where relevant
  • Contact details for key committee members and class reps (consider including pictures of PTA members and the year groups they represent)
  • Details on how parents can get involved, e.g. volunteering, joining
    the committee, getting match-funding from employers, becoming a class rep
  • A list of the projects you're hoping to raise money for next
  • Details of upcoming fundraising events and PTA meetings

Provide details of any ongoing fundraising schemes you have in place, such as recycling schemes or a 100 club. If you operate any shopping affiliate schemes (such as Give As You Live), share the link, especially as this is the time when parents will be buying new school clothes, lunchboxes, etc.

Create a digital version of your welcome pack and make it accessible
to everyone - even those who mislay the paper copy! - via your Facebook group or the school website.

If you're writing your pack early, it's also a good time to invite new families to any key events you may be planning for the summer or autumn terms, whether it's the summer fair or a 'tea and tissues' get-together on the first day of the school year. And can a member of your PTA deliver a talk at any taster or induction days that the school may be running?

However you go about it, a welcome pack is the perfect way to introduce new starters to the PTA. These parents will be eager to keep a close link with their children - and what better way to do that than by taking an active role within the PTA?

 

How do I write a PTA Welcome Pack?

 

Who's going to write it?

Do you have any journalists, marketers or copywriters on the PTA? Those people will have excellent writing skills you can draw on. Maybe you know a graphic designer who can present the information in a fun and engaging way. If so, allow them the freedom to be creative, and you'll have a pack to be proud of. If no-one has those professional skills, how about an english teacher or budding author?

What should we say?

Beginning with the list at the top of this page, write bullet points detailing everything you'd like to include under each heading. Don't worry if something doesn't apply to you; use only what's appropriate for your school and your group. Have a look at other school's welcome packs and download the PTA+ welcome pack template. If you're using photos, ensure you have them all to hand before you start.

How will it be sent to parents?

It might seem like early days, but now is also the time to think about whether you'll be printing your pack in colour or black and white, sending it as an e-mail attachment or hosting it on the school website. Printing several pages, particularly in colour, might be feasible for a one-form entry school but is it realistic for three classes of 30 children? This might be the time to look for sponsorship or an advertising deal with a local company if you don't already have one.

Why should parents join the PTA?

Think from your reader's perspective. What are their needs and what do they hope to gain from helping you out? It might be things like: I want to make sure my child gets an education full of extra things that make school fun and engaging; I'd like to get to know other parents and spend time socially; I want to get to know the Head and other teachers and get some inside information on what's happening in the school. Consider what the parents hope to gain from working with the PTA as well as raising funds for the school. If you can satisfy that need then you've given them a reason to join.

What should we not say?

To make sure your new parents get a great first experience of the PTA, double-check what you've written is friendly and approachable and not too long-winded. Ask two or three people to read what you've written to check the spelling, grammar and clarity, and make sure you haven't included jargon and abbreviations used in the school without explaining them.

 Get started by downloading the PTA+ welcome pack template here.

If a welcome pack is beyond your resources right now, consider writing a welcome letter with only the necessary information and a couple of suggestions of how new parents might get involved. Or start small with a page on the school's website or a few paragraphs in the parent information Booklet. you can always build on it next year.


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