More than money;Letter

1st May 1998 at 01:00
Hugh Dougherty's gentle moan (TESS, April 17) about how the energetic ladies of his parent-teacher association seem to spend their time coming up with more and more amazing activities for parents to sponsor, doubtless struck a chord with many, although I have to ask why only the ladies?

However, his general complaint even struck a chord with us at the Scottish Parent Teacher Council. Of course, part of the problem is that cuts in school funding over the last few years have forced PTAs to become more professional fundraisers, hence the focus on sponsored activities.

But, since the introduction of school boards, many people - parents, teachers and headteachers - have seen the only role left for PTAs as that of fundraiser. Even the Government's latest discussion document, "Parents as Partners", reduces PTAs to a mere three paragraphs and to their fundraising and social functions.

Yet the SPTC is very conscious that PTAs and PAs are much more than just fundraising committees. They are all the parents at a school, and they provide a route through which the majority of "ordinary" parents can get involved in school activities.

Moreover, the traditional fundraising event such as the school fair is about more than raising money. It provides an opportunity for the whole school community to work together and gives an excellent chance for informal contact between parents and teachers.

This improves mutual understanding and is the very basis of establishing a good partnership. It is so much easier for parents and teachers to talk to each other about problems with a child, if they know each other as real people first.

Maybe what is wrong with modern fundraising is that it has lost this extra dimension of involvement. It is much easier for parents like Hugh Dougherty to hand over cash than to give their time.

Judith Gillespie, Development manager Scottish Parent Teacher Council Edinburgh

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