PTA Chair letter – December 2019

Dear ParentsIt’s been a very busy Autumn term here at Long Crendon. You’ve been roped in to help at the Circus, Fireworks, Christmas Fair, to sell cakes, second-hand uniform, mulled wine and mince pies, and buy raffle tickets, calendars and Christmas cards! We thank every one of you for your unfailing and generous support for PTA fundraising efforts.

For those of you who kindly set up a Direct Debit to the PTA, last term BT MyDonate closed down and we had to switch to another donations platform. If you haven’t done so, or if you’d like to set up a regular donation, please go to www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/long-crendon-school-pta/ and click “Donate Now”.  We can also claim Gift Aid on donations.

Speaking of donations, you may not realise that you can earn money for the PTA with your usual online shopping. EasyFundraising and Amazon Smile both donate cash to us every time you make a purchase. It costs you nothing – but over the years we’ve raised over £3,000 from parents going to the Easyfundraising website before visiting a major retailer’s website. We recently set up Amazon Smile, which works in the same way. Just start your shopping from smile.amazon.co.uk and shop on Amazon as normal. Free cash for us!

In October we published the Annual Report, which details the PTA’s income and expenditure for the school year 2018-19. You all received it via Parentmail, but I’ve attached it here in case you missed it. We were delighted to raise £37,504 last year for our children’s education, and funded the refurbishment of the School Library, the Dining Room and many resources used across the school.

We carried over most of last year’s income and earmarked it for the refurbishment of the IT Suite. We may recall we funded replacement smartboards for all classrooms last year – now we’re reconfiguring the layout of the IT suite and buying new computers so that each child can sit comfortably at a computer. This will have a huge impact on ICT lessons, where children are currently 3 to a computer, and the computers are temperamental and slow.

The PTA is keen to support the request from School Council for new equipment for the playground. We are in the process of gathering their requirements and quotes from providers of play equipment, but as our coffers will be nearly empty after the annual £6,000 donation to the school for essentials in January, and the funding for the IT suite, we will need to fund this with further events and fundraising efforts next year.

Fundraising is a tricky topic. We know that you all want a great education for your children – and we also know that you are all busy people and the seemingly endless request for spare change and help with serving tea and cakes can be draining. That’s why we’re keen to maintain a dialogue between the PTA Committee and parents. We want your opinions, suggestions and ideas as to how we can do this better. And we want to help you to understand how desperately underfunded our school is – and why it relies so heavily on the PTA. After the great feedback from our Funding Primer last year, we’ve created a new one for the school year 2018-19, with new figures about the school’s income and expenditure from Arbor.

We have some vacancies within the PTA that we need to fill urgently. The Secretary role will be vacant from 1 March. This involves mainly scheduling committee meetings and taking minutes. I’m also looking for a replacement as Chair and we also need new Trustees to replace those whose children have moved on. If you can help us to ensure the PTA is run well, contact me and I will send you more information.

But let’s end on a very positive note – we’ve raised a fantastic sum this Autumn term from all your hard work and the generous donations from Fisher German. This gives us £25,285 in available funds to spend on the IT suite furniture, new computers, and the annual donation to the school for all those basics (which means that the school can continue to pay the staff!).

If you have any questions, contact your Class Rep or email me at longcrendonpta@gmail.com.

Wishing you all very Happy Christmas

Tom Peasgood, PTA Chair

PTA Chair letter – March 2019

Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to speak to a lot of people about the school and the PTA.  It has become apparent that a number of people would like to be more involved (which is great) but that often logistics get in the way. It has also been noticeable that it might be a good idea to periodically give everyone an overview of what the PTA is all about.

In addition to this I discovered that many people are a bit in the dark on what the PTA spends its hard earned cash on and how these decisions are reached and who makes them, so hopefully I can address some of this now…

What is it all about and who is involved?
Every parent is automatically a member of the PTA (the Parent and Teacher Association) and is welcome at all meetings to influence and vote on what funds should be spent on and how to approach fund raising. There is no selection criteria or need to sign up, anyone can just turn up.  You will not be asked to volunteer or to take up any extra duties. Meetings last around an hour and people turn up and leave as and when they need to. A lot of things discussed at the PTA meetings do not appear on Parent Mail. It is therefore important that all parents read the minutes, which are circulated via the form reps, in order to stay fully informed of PTA decisions. Hard copies can also be provided if required.

There are currently four elected officers, all of whom are parents and volunteers. The Chair and Vice-chair (these roles involve running the meetings and some communications). The Secretary (the vast majority of the formalities, event organisation with the sub groups and paperwork). The Treasurer (running the bank accounts, telling us how much money we have and making sure someone controls the finances)

How are decisions made ?
All decisions are made by the attendees of the meetings and any big ones or funding requests are voted on together. At the next meeting on the 19th March we will be discussing how we can get more parents involved in these votes even if they can’t make the meeting – hoping to help solve the logistics problem listed above.  Ideally I would like us (as a group of parents) to agree a big ticket item to raise money for over the year- then go for it and focus our efforts on achieving that one big thing.

The PTA approve or reject funding requests from the teachers. The PTA are often not involved in the implementation of the idea beyond providing the funding.

What is the purpose of the PTA?
The main role of the PTA is to raise money for the school for things that will improve our children’s school experience.  Thanks to the hard work and generosity of many of you we have already raised around £16,000 since September.
At the bottom of this note you will find a list of everything that the PTA has funded so far this year – the dining room if you haven’t seen it, is totally transformed and will benefit lots of children for years to come.
As a softer and secondary target the PTA also arranges events that are considered for the good of the community – these events may not always be big money-spinners but it is good to hold events where there are other drivers. Without people to run and take charge of events they do not happen.

I have been asked many times why the school needs our help or donations as some other schools do not.  The politics around this is not something that I intend to get into – however the attached PDF shows nicely how Long Crendon compares to other schools, in terms of government funding, and how the school’s budget is made up.

I remain totally convinced that our help, time and donations make a massive and fairly immediate difference.

Huge thanks to everyone who has helped us to be able to deliver what we have so far and who continue to work hard so we can do more. The next meeting is on the 19th March 7.30pm in the school. If you can’t make it – class reps should circulate the agenda – please pass on any comments.

Tom

Things the PTA has paid for this financial year (1 April 2018 – 1st March 2019):
Pop-up theatre                                                                                             £400.00

Nurture group materials                                                                               £300.00

Mathletics licenses                                                                                       £917.28

Busy Ant Maths portal license and workbooks                                            £758.79

Foundation Stage items (details below)                                                        £513.81

Class iTunes vouchers for apps to support learning                                     £347.79

Primary Science Quality Mark                                                                       £805.00

Annual donation (breakdown below)                                                             £6000.00

New Library Furniture (part of earmarked Library funding)                           £948.85

Library carpet (part of earmarked Library funding)                                        £607.50

Library canvas (part of earmarked Library funding)                                       £225.68

Breakdown of £6000 donation (2018-19):

ICT

Espresso (final payment, now switched to PurpleMash)                              £277.50

Cartridge Save – Cartridges for upstairs printer                                           £204.66

Purple Mash – 1 Yr subscription plus training                                              £600.00

Amazon – Dell Speakers                                                                               £13.92

Twinkl Ltd – Subscription for resources                                                        £615.00

Turn IT On – Annual Network Support Package                                            £400.00

Turn IT On – 2 x laptops for teachers                                                             £1074.00

Curriculum enhancement

First News Subscription (Y5)                                                                           £329.00

Science Dome – all year groups                                                                      £560.00

Quiz Club – all KS2                                                                                          £180.00

STEM workshop day for Y1 Y3 and Y6)                                                          £350.00

Off the Page (Y2 Great Fire of London Day)                                                    £388.00

Off the Page (Y3 Egyptian Day)                                                                       £388.00

Hands on Science – all years                                                                           £494.00

Committed expenditure (but not paid yet):

  • Mathletics license to support Maths learning across the school. This may be renewed at end April, but not be. If it is, will be around £917)
  • Busy Ant Maths – website portal for all years and workbooks for KS1. (Due for renewal all together in July/August at ~£1400)
  • New dining room furniture to reduce noise levels and overcrowding, and hopefully will provide a pleasanter lunchtime so children go back to classes in the right frame of mind. And by leaving the tables set up it provides us with extra teaching and 1:1 spaces throughout the day. (£3,376.08)
  • SEN books – adapted reading books to allow all the children to study the same books (£21.78)
  • Rothschild 3-year Reading Project. To enable KS2 classes to take part in the Pop Up reading project that ties in very closely with our main school development plan focus. (£800 per year for 3 years, total £2400 over 3 years)

PTA Chair letter – October 2018

My name is Tom, I have lived in Long Crendon for four years and have two children in the school. I am a massive fan of the area and consider myself lucky to live in what’s undoubtedly one of the best villages in the UK, with a terrific school.

Although I’ve been a School Governor the past two years, it was only last month that I attended my first PTA meetings. I figured I wanted to give something back to the community that I enjoy so thought I would try it out, although I confess I was filled with dread at the idea of attending boring and unproductive meetings with a bunch of people telling me how important their roles are and stealing two hours from me that I will never get back.

Admittedly the AGM was a little dry and there is an unavoidable amount of formality, however I’m pleased to say that my concerns were completely unfounded.

Much like the Governors, the PTA are simply a brilliant group of folk from all walks of life working towards one shared goal. There are no politics and none of the “this is how we always do it” attitudes I suspected I would come up against. In fact, the second meeting proved to be good fun!

This experience convinced me to step up to the plate as Chair and over the course of the next year I would be delighted to meet as many of you other parents as possible to see what you want from the PTA –  or better still, what you think we should do and how you think we should operate.

The PTA is not the preserve of stay-at-home mums, nor is it dominated by those who work in the city every day. It’s a forum for all and an opportunity for everyone to have their say on what we should do and what money should be spent on, in an open and balanced environment where all ideas and suggestions are equally valued and considered.

I suspect that between us we have contacts and skill sets that will benefit the school far more substantially than selling teas and coffees. I would love to meet you and discuss this further and will work on making that happen.

There will always be those who are not keen, or who are too busy, to be involved in any way. Many of us lead hectic lives so I totally understand and respect that. Should you wish to voice an opinion, suggestion, or volunteer at a fundraising event your contribution will always be welcomed.

I would like to think there will be a more intentional frankness to our messages and we will endeavour to involve more people and to show everyone what we have achieved and what we are raising money for.  As a starter it is worth bearing in mind that to meet our minimum fundraising target of £20k we would need the equivalent of £8 per child, per month. A direct debit from parents of £4 per child per month – or a one-off donation of £50 per child, per year – would mean we’d be halfway there. I recognise of course that life is expensive and that everyone’s situation is different, so there will be some who feel they can’t make such a commitment. However, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford this by giving up the occasional Starbucks, pint or Pret then I would ask that you consider making a regular donation to help fund the school’s resources.  To help with this we will make sure the “how to donate” information is included in every newsletter and periodically we will let you know how we are doing.

For the sake of everyone I will try to limit my future communications. Thanks for sticking with it.

To make a single or regular donation to the PTA, visit our page on BT MyDonate.

Should you want to make contact and arrange a meet – please email longcrendonpta@gmail.com.

Tom Peasgood
(PTA Chair)

PTA Chair letter – July 2018

Dear Parents,

Thank you all for your hard work and support for the school over the past 12 months. I’ve had a fantastic year as your PTA Chair, and will hand over to the next Chair at the AGM in September. The role is truly rewarding and puts you at the heart of the school. If you’re interested in taking the role of chair for 2018-19, email me over the summer at ed@moderncopy.co.uk to discover what the role involves. Whoever is voted in at our AGM in September will be ably assisted by a cracking team, including our secretary Louisa Stockley, who has been the driving force behind so much of this year’s activity.

I took over as Chair from Simon Howard last year after a tough period at the school, where budget cuts meant that the PTA had to step up and meet the shortfall. Thanks to some creative thinking and hard work, we raised a fantastic sum which has been spent very wisely over the last year.

You will all have noticed the amazing new library, and every child now benefits from new multimedia screens in the classroom and an iPad for each class, offering teachers new ways to teach every day. This year, we also funded faster broadband for the school, several different subscriptions for online teaching tools, as well as many other requests by teachers.

We should all offer our thanks to the tireless squads of parents who step up to help make the fundraising happen, again and again; equally, we should thank the people who come to events and spend or donate whatever they can.

It can seem hard to find time to step up and help, but the truth is, we need to keep going. Schools like ours have suffered disproportionately under the severe and sustained budget cuts of the past couple of governments. This is not going to change. The school can’t maintain the high standards we expect without the money we raise: it pays for schoolbooks, stationery, subscriptions, experiences, equipment – all those things we took for granted when we were at school.

The PTA’s greatest challenge is to maintain this effort. We need new ideas and fresh volunteers to step up next year and keep the ball rolling for the school. If you can help, don’t hesitate to come forward – the PTA is here to help you develop events, join initiatives and work together.

Contact us on longcrendonpta@gmail.com, and come along to the AGM on 18 September to find out more.

Yours,

Ed Chipperfield