Agenda Diary of a PTA chair

Claire Champness, chair of the Friends of South Malling School, on autumn fundraising

September Gosh, the relief of them all being

back at school! Our head wants us to concentrate on supporting the school community rather than fundraising this term, acknowledging that a lot of our parents will be struggling fi nancially. However, the school needs a new playground surface, climbing frame, and outdoor shelters so the children can spend more time outside. In terms of support, we have a

great core of about a dozen families, but it’s going to be hard to ask them to do even more – especially as most of them have been working and homeschooling throughout lockdown and are totally burnt out.

October We need to do a lot of preparation

this month. We’ll have to hold our AGM next month and will need to reach out to the Reception and Year 1 parents to fi nd some new blood before the Year 6 parents leave. We also need to come up with some virtual fundraisers and start thinking about a socially distanced Christmas. We had been talking about holding

a scarecrow trail in the autumn, and we make a last-minute decision to run it as a Halloween Trail. The short timescale is not to be recommended, but it does mean that we do what we’ve spent the past year talking about – sorting out online payments,

There’s lots of enthusiasm – let’s see if it translates into action

websites and social media. We have the odd complaint that it encourages people out when they shouldn’t be, but overall the trail gets an outstanding response, and I for one enjoy it more than trick or treating.

November Some of the Friends make short

videos for me, which I pull together into an ‘ad’ to send round to parents. I’m pleased with the result, but we’ll have to see if it makes a difference. Dates have been circulated for the next committee meeting and the AGM – will virtual meetings encourage people to attend or make it even easier for them to avoid? We also launch a Christmas trail,

building on what we learnt in October. We’re now in the second lockdown, but most people want something positive to focus on! I spend my afternoon off emailing local businesses and messaging the Friends and class reps to ask them to promote the event on social media. I decide it would be a good thing

to have a WhatsApp group for local PTA chairs – to share knowledge and to avoid date clashes. I get everyone’s details pretty quickly, but there’s not much we can do till we’re out of lockdown. The AGM goes well, with no

technical hitches, a record turnout, and lots of enthusiasm – let’s see if it translates into action.

December Having thought we weren’t doing

much this Christmas, I write a newsletter and realise we’re doing loads! We’re taking part in the local foodbank collection, which is always great fun. We’ve arranged a Christmas jumper day and also a hamper raffl e.

Sixty homes and businesses are

taking part in the trail, and we let a PTA in a nearby village piggyback ours. We’re not charging anyone to be part of the trail, but quite a few donate voluntarily. I’m amazed by people’s generosity in the current climate. Finally, we’re planning a Christmas

surprise for the end of term. We’re fi lming class messages from ‘Santa’, to be streamed on class whiteboards. And when the children leave school on the last Friday, there will be music and Christmas lights and it will be ‘snowing’. It will be a merry Christmas! SPRING 2021 9


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