Chair: Ysgol Y Llys
Nikki Barlow, Ysgol Y Llys, Prestatyn, Denbighshire (375
Running your PTA
- How many people are there on your committee? 5
- How long have you been Chair? 3 years
- When is your busiest time of year? Between
October and November is our busiest time, as we run several events,
but I am always busy as Chair because I'm constantly on the look
out for new things and ideas to try - I am keen to improve on
events year after year.
- When is your quietest time of year? I don't
think there is ever truly a quiet time, but the start of the New
Year is always much less chaotic, especially after Christmas.
- How hands-on are you as a Chair? I would
consider myself to be hands-on but probably don't delegate as much
as I should. There is just so much that I would like us to do but
we just don't have the manpower or the resources.
- What is your relationship like with the school and the
staff? Very good - we have an excellent relationship with
the school and we all work well together. We always have staff
representation at our meetings and we attend their staff meeting as
and when needed. It's important that we maintain a good
relationship with the school and at the same time ensure we
understand the school and its day-to-day workings and
Tips and advice
- What's the best piece of advice you received before
taking on the role of Chair? I wasn't really given any
specific advice. I was handed some stock information and some
contact details. In the future I would love to create a local group
of PTA Chairs and meet so we can share ideas, contacts, split costs
- What advice will you pass on to your
successor? Get to know the school and staff, and look at
the events that are usually held. It's important to maintain a
close working relationship with the school's Head. Make sure you
have all your facts, have checked everything with the school, and
you will be fine. Remember to keep an open mind and not take
anything too personally.
- What do you wish you'd known before becoming
Chair? How difficult it would be to recruit volunteers -
sadly this always seems to be a struggle. I automatically assumed
that everyone would feel the same as I do!
- What have you personally gained from being
Chair? Self-confidence, and knowing I have contributed to
enhancing the children's education makes me feel very proud of our
achievements. This is the case especially when I look at how much
we have raised over the past three years and see where our money
has been spent. I absolutely love what I can do for the
- What is the best thing about being Chair?
Playing a big part in my children's education and being closely
involved with their school and its staff. We have also changed the
ethos of the PTA at the school, and have become a strong link
between the school and parents. The best thing is the people - I
have met and become friends with some great parents and school
staff from all walks of life.
- What do you think makes a good PTA Chair? I
believe it's the ability to work with all kinds of people, to be
patient and open-minded, and get the best out of everyone. The
ability to delegate is key, as you cannot to do it all by yourself,
and most of all you need to have good communication and
organisational skills. Understanding peoples' situations is also
Challenges in the role
- What challenges do you face? A lack of
volunteers like all PTAs seems to be a common challenge. I do worry
that our current committee is mostly made up of parents with
children in the upper years of the school and we shall soon be
moving on. It's important to me that we establish strong
connections with parents with children in the younger years so we
can start to hand over to avoid any major disruption to the
- What is the most daunting task you have to
undertake? The most daunting thing I experienced was my
first event as Chair - we ran a disco. The previous Chair had been
in the role for many years so I was filling experienced shoes! I
really wanted to make sure that it went to plan. The night was a
success, and with that I gained confidence and believed I could
fulfill the role. Another daunting occasion was presenting our
pitch at our first new parents evening! All those new parents
were hanging on every word, whilst hoping that I wasn't going to
sign them up for a lifetime of school fayres!
- Have you ever had an instance where you have had to
challenge the school's decision(s)? Yes - we hold a disco
for Nursery and Reception in the afternoon straight from school
separate from the other years. The school asked if we could invite
2 other years to join the young ones' disco instead of coming later
in the evening, but as pupil numbers were increasing we were
concerned that the disco was getting too big for the younger ones.
This was all discussed amicably and the teacher attending our
meeting could understand our reasoning. It's currently been left as
planned but we are going to monitor the event.
- How do you go about handling any
animosity/disagreements in your committee? Luckily we have
not experienced much of this and everyone gets on really
well. We all know our strengths and weaknesses and it all
just gels together. We are very lucky!
- How do you go about recruiting volunteers for
events? We have regular volunteers for the big events, and
we also use Facebook to ask for help. It's always nice though to
get new faces to help out. We always try and ensure we have parents
helping from all the school years to balance it out. You find that
parents who help out regularly then become more involved with the
PTA as a whole - our hope is that these parents can then possibly
take over the PTA roles as people step down, so we are always aware
of succession planning. We make sure that after all our meetings
that our minutes are circulated to all parents.
- How do you go about boosting morale and motivating your
committee? We had a summer get-together in the holidays
with our children and one Christmas we had a Christmas meal out
with our children. Most of the main committee members see each
other on a regular basis and we are always in touch.
- How do you welcome new families to the school?
Three years ago we decided to start attending the school's welcome
evening for new parents. Since then our role has evolved where our
'slot' now consists of a presentation and a promotional video, and
we hand out goody bags to each set of parents. In the bags we
include our newsletter, a questionnaire, uniform information,
fundraising schemes we have set up, and cookies with welcome rhymes
attached to them for the children. We also have a raffle and the
bag with the lucky star in it wins a bottle of wine and a box of
- How long do you intend on being Chair? I
should probably only be in the role as long as my children are in
the school. At the moment I am happy to carry on until someone else
wants to take over. At our recent AGM I did offer the role out but
everyone was happy for me to remain as Chair.
- How long did you plan on being Chair when you started,
and has this changed since taking on the role? It's not
something that I actually thought about. I'm sure if I had been
asked back then, I would say the same as I would now.
- Did you shadow the previous Chair before taking on the
role? Sadly, no, but I was part of the PTA before I took
on the role so I had a rough idea of how things worked. The
previous Chair was more than happy to support me and emailed me
information as and when I contacted her.
- Do you intend on having your successor shadow you in
the role, before you step down? I would do this. I would
say several months or longer if necessary would be an appropriate
length of time to shadow. It would be good to go through all the
events once before handing over completely, but that may not be
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