Today we talk to Jude Mills, the PTA Secretary at Parkside Academy, a secondary school in Cambridge.
“I want to use Classlist to build a stronger parent community at Parkside. The history of the PTA here has been mixed. We face that age-old struggle of parents at secondary school: how do you grow parental engagement when the kids don’t want parents on school premises?!”
“At primary school you get to know other parents through drop-off and pick-up and it’s easier to get involved. Those mechanisms disappear at secondary. But there’s still huge advantages when a school does have a parent body to interact with. It’s not just the fundraising benefits – it’s the benefits of parents talking to one another; supporting one another; feeding that support back into the school. That can help tackle social problems; it can bring opportunities – because parents know more about what the school needs – and it can feed into a dynamic, positive school environment.
It’s not just the fundraising benefits – it’s the benefits of parents talking to one another; supporting one another; feeding that support back into the school.
“I think Classlist will help to build that community. It’s an inclusive site where people can see what is going on and can get to know one another. Even if people haven’t signed up, you can still add them to invites and to alerts about events, so you know they’re being welcomed by the community. Our PTA sends out a newsletter from Classlist every month and each time we do, we get a little flurry of parents signing up. At some point we will hit a critical mass where so many parents are on the site that everyone else will join, because all their friends will direct them there to find out about events or to chat.
“Once that happens – once the community is fully in place – we can focus on Classlist as a forum for helping the PTA to fundraise. But we need to build the community first. People are much more likely to volunteer for things if their friends are volunteering too.”