While you already know the PTA is the heart of the school community, new starters’ parents might not – until you tell them. Any kind of welcome pack, letter or event is a chance to showcase the amazing work you do. Now’s the time to talk about school trips you’ve paid for, library upgrades you’ve funded, playground equipment you’ve footed the bill for. It’s also when you can dispel some preconceptions – if anyone is worried they don’t have enough time to devote to volunteering, tell them about micro-volunteering, where no amount of time is too small. Worried they’ll be spending all their time in weekly meetings? Reassure them they’re usually only once or twice a term.
An easy-to-read PTA welcome pack is a great start before they enter the building on their first day. Make it clear and concise, sharing details of events and fundraising schemes you run, and the different ways parents can get involved before their children start.
How to create a welcome pack:
- If you’re lucky enough to have any writers or designers on your PTA, make use of them.
- For an easy solution, download the PTA+ welcome pack template.
- Be succinct and engaging, and use humour.
- Tell parents what’s in it for them: PTA funds will help broaden their child’s education; it’s a way to get to know other parents socially; the PTA gives parents a voice in the school.
- Create a digital version of your welcome pack to make it easier to share. If you’re sending out a hard copy, seek out sponsorship deals with a local company to cover printing costs.
- If you don’t have the resources for a whole pack, how about a simple welcome letter instead? Or send them a copy of our leaflet explaining the 10 reasons we need your help.
Meet and greet
Talk to your head to find out how the PTA can complement their plans. Could you get involved with taster days, make a speech at a new starters evening or hold a coffee morning where parents ask for practical advice from those in the know?
Raise funds from the start
New starter events and communications are an excellent way to get more sign-ups for your cashback schemes. Make sure to include details in your presentations and correspondence.
Shopping affiliates: With no hidden charges for parents or PTAs, affiliate schemes are the perfect way to get new parents helping early on. Companies such as Give as you Live and TheGivingMachine offer commission on purchases from hundreds of household-name websites.
Name labels: Most suppliers offer various ways to label school clothing, including traditional woven labels, plastic tags, permanent ink stamps and adhesive labels. Many of them run initiatives where the PTA earns a commission (usually a percentage of the sale amount) on name labels sold through an affiliate scheme.
Cashback on uniform: Register your school with the My Clothing or M&S ‘Your School Uniform’ schemes (for bespoke, embroidered uniforms).
Local businesses: Ask local firms if they can offer a deal to parents or a percentage of profits to the PTA in exchange for advertising in your new starter correspondence.
Five easy ways to welcome new children
1 Gift them a teddy – get them to bring it to a teddy bear’s picnic in September, while the weather is still outdoor-event friendly
2 Host a disco – give them a chance to see their new friends outside school
3 Give new starters a book bag – they’ll be excited to have something with the logo of their new school, and it’ll be practical too
4 A sweet treat – something as simple as a cookie or a bag of sweets on their first day, with a welcome note attached, is sure to be a hit
5 Pizza party – any kind of gathering (especially one with food) will allow the children to let their hair down during what can be a nerve-wracking time.
Five easy ways to welcome new parents
1 Tea and tissues pack – it’s not just children who can get a bit teary. As well as tea, coffee, biscuits and tissues, include information about why the PTA is important and what it does. This could take the form of a flyer or simple card with a QR code linking to your website or social media channels. Add QR codes that direct parents to your shopping affiliate schemes to encourage them to sign up. It’s traditional for PTAs to include a poem in their packs. Find wording and inspiration from other PTAs on our Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/PTAnetwork
2 Breakfast – Offer hot drinks and food in the school hall for parents who are feeling wobbly. Bacon baps may increase attendance and make it easier to find volunteers to serve them.
3 Charm offensive – being all smiles at school drop-off and pick-up creates a warm welcome and a friendly impression of the PTA
4 Cake sale – invite parents of new starters to your next cake sale, so they can see the PTA in action
5 Informal get-together – if people are worried that attending a meeting is too formal, then a drink in a pub or coffee shop can feel much more relaxed.