Working mothers now too busy to join parent teacher associations, leading headmistress says

by pregnancy journalist

Working mothers are now too busy to join Parent Teacher Associations, a leading headmistress has said, as people are now less “community minded” than they used to be.

Over the past two decades, there has been a steady decline in attendance of PTA meetings and this is partly down to more women having high-flying careers, according to Sue Hincks who head of Bolton School Girls’ Division.

She said that while we should celebrate the fact that women are now more likely to be the breadwinners of the family than in previous generations, it also means that they have far less time to volunteer.

Miss Hincks, who is president of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), said that over the past 20 years, she has watched as PTA numbers decline.

“I don’t mean to criticise parents,” she told The Telegraph. “We are all working so hard. But there is a question about how we manage our resources and our time.

“There are lots of things people used to do outside the home – Women’s Institutes, Brownies, Scouts – and now we do much less. It’s the voluntary stuff that was very important, maybe 30 years ago. We are becoming much more atomised and less community orientated.”

The GSA represents the heads of the country’s 148 leading independent girls’ schools. Its members include South Hampstead High School in north London, which counts the actress Helena Bonham Carter among its alumnae, and Oxford High School where the pottery tycoon Emma Bridgewater and the actress Dame Maggie Smith studied.

Miss Hincks said that within GSA schools, it has usually been pupils’ mothers who come along to PTA meetings more so than their fathers.

“The men will come and do things like put up stalls for fetes but in terms of turning up to the committees, it is more female,” she said.

“At the GSA we would applaud the fact that women are working. But obviously there has to be a rebalancing sometimes. If women have to do demanding jobs and also do the chores, there is not as much time to devote to the PTA.”

Most schools have a PTA which organises community and fundraising events, as well as organises meetings to inform parents about the goings-on at the school. 

Speaking to headteachers today [MON] at the GSA annual conference in Bristol, she will say: “How many of you have parents too busy to join your Parents’ Association?

“Or, in day schools, how many of you experience a demand for care between 7am and up to 7pm because those are the times between which adults need to work or be en route to and from work?  

“Or, in nurseries which you run, who has had a request for Saturday and even Sunday opening because parents need that time for work or domestic chores?”

Miss Hincks will tell headteachers that GSA schools share an ethos that “altruism creates happiness”.

This content was originally published here.

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