The role of the parent’s association is set down in the Education Act 1998 as follows:
A parents association shall promote the interests of the students in a school in co-operation with the board, principal, teachers and students.
The Education Act also sets out two broad tasks for a parents association which are:
· To advise the Principal or the Board on matters relating to the school
· To adopt a programme of activities which will promote the involvement of parents in the operation of the school, in consultation with the principal.
To operate effectively as a Parents Association you need to have mechanisms in place whereby you can establish the views of the parents and pupils on matters relating to the school. In this way you can select activities that will promote parental and student involvement.
While all parents of pupils of a school are members of the parents association, the majority do not need to be involved in the day-to-day activities of the association. Usually the parents association will elect a committee who manage the responsibilities of the parent association on behalf of all the parents. The size and formation of the committee is usually determined by the size of the school and the amount of activities to be undertaken
The following are some of the activities in which Parents Associations might be involved:
Organising information/social events for new parents to the school
Organising welcome events for new students to the school
Arranging talks on topics of interest to parents, e.g. guest speaker on parenting/discipline etc
Preparing school handbooks/calendars
Providing support/organisational input to major school events, e.g. communions, confirmations, debs etc
Channelling parents views on school policy issues to the Principal/Board
Contributing to school newsletter
Helping to organise and supervise extra curricular activities
Organising Fund Raising Events for the school
Parents Associations are entitled to raise funds for the administration and activities of the association. A Parents Association is expected to consult with the school board, which includes the Principal, about fund raising as the approval of the board is normally needed prior to funds being raised. Any funds raised must be used for the purpose for which the money was collected. Full accounts should be maintained and presented at the Parent Association AGM.
Whilst setting up or being involved on a Parents Association Committee for the first time can be a bit daunting, there is help available. The National Parents Council -Primary (NPC) and The National Parents Council – Post Primary offer considerable support for Parents Associations.
The National Parents Council- Primary is the nationwide organisation for parents of primary school children and is recognised by the Education Act 1998. Membership of the NPC provides Parents Committees with access to support systems and training programmes.