Be clear about your goals
Is your P&C a social, educational, advisory or fundraising body? Is it a means for involving parents in the school or a service provider for the school community? What roles are most important to you and to parents at the school? You may find surveying parents useful. Here at Council, we encourage P&Cs to facilitate parent involvement in the school, support the school and community, and provide a forum for parents to discuss and debate school and education issues. Read more in this article.
Know your constitution
Yes, we know that sounds boring, but the answers to most P&C questions are found within its folds, from how often to meet and how much notice to give, to the association’s stated aims (or ‘objects’ as they are known in the constitution). If your constitution is out of date and no longer reflects your P&C’s practices, we can help you amend it (see our training).
Don’t do it all yourself! Break tasks into smaller jobs and call for volunteers. Start early and be specific about the jobs. Repeat if necessary, and don’t be afraid to cancel if there’s not enough help. Remember that Council is also here to help. See our extensive resources for P&Cs or contact our office with your questions.
Make it as enjoyable as possible
If being involved in your P&C is more fun than expected, people are more likely to come back, so run your meetings well (see more on running meetings), stick to time, and include introductions or even an ice-breaker activity at the beginning. At big events, assign someone to just look after volunteers and provide them with drinks, sunscreen, bathroom breaks and so on. Make sure volunteers are well utilized, have clear tasks and finish at the end of their shift. It is a good idea to pair volunteers with friends and always thank everyone profusely. Read more about looking after volunteers.
Work with the principal
Parents and the school will both benefit most if you work closely with the principal. Co-ordinate school and P&C calendars so events and fundraisers don’t hit families all at once; align your goals with those of the school; ask the principal and board for funding priorities; offer parent help (such as catering) for school events or use school events as an opportunity to tell more parents about what the P&C does; and provide the parent perspective as feedback to help the school reach out to parents. Always share your agenda with the principal ahead of the P&C meeting, and an informal chat a few days before each meeting will ensure everyone knows what to expect.
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 2, 2016. See other past editions of our quarterly magazine.