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. What is important, is to agree on clear, shared goals. This will help you direct your time and resources, get more parents on board and head-off conflict. 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 If your constitution is out of date and no longer reflects your P&C’s practices, we can help you amend it (see our training and our template constitution).
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 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 you meetings well, stick to time, introduce everyone and even try an ice-breaker activity. At big events, assign someone to just look after volunteers and provide them with drinks, sunscreen, breaks and so on. Make sure volunteers are well utilised, have clear tasks and finish at the end of their shift. Always thank everyone profusely. Read more growing your P&C about looking after volunteers.
Comply with regulations
Parent associations need to comply with a number of regulations and expectations. The committee needs to ensure that office bearers are suitable candidates (use our declaration form), appropriate financial controls are in place, and that finances are independently reviewed/audited each year and reported to government. The association needs to hold suitable insurance. Be aware of additional regulations for some fundraising activities, and for enterprises such as canteens and after school care.
Work with the principal
Parents and the school will benefit most if you work closely with the principal. Coordinate school and P&C calendars so events and fundraisers don’t hit families all at once; align your goals; ask the principal and board for funding priorities; offer parent help (like catering) at school events or use such events as a chance to tell more parents what you do; and provide parent feedback to help the school improve its communication with 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.