Roles of office bearers
Your Parent Council may choose to have office bearers to help to organise how you work and to carry out some of the tasks that need to be done in order to run smoothly. Some parent groups have joint office bearers who work together and share out some of the tasks. Here are some of the common roles in groups and some of their possible tasks.
The Parent Council should always be chaired by a member of the Parent Forum. The success of a meeting can depend upon how it is chaired but remember, the Chairperson is the person who makes sure things get done; not the person who does everything.
There are two basic jobs the Chairperson should do:
a) Guide the Parent Council to achieve its aims
b) Chair the meetings of the Parent Council
Some of the duties of the Chairperson are as follows:
- Liaise with the Secretary/Clerk on the agenda and meeting arrangements.
- Welcome members and introduce guests.
- Ensure fair discussion and that everyone gets a chance to have their say.
- Stop anyone taking over or dominating discussions.
- Get through the agenda on time.
- Sum up issues, points and decisions.
- Ensure decisions are carried out.
- Work with the Treasurer to ensure that proper financial accounts are prepared for meetings, including the Annual General Meeting.
The Secretary plays an important role in supporting communication between Parent Council members themselves and between the Parent Forum and the Parent Council. It is important that the Parent Council agrees how members of the Parent Forum can get in touch with the Secretary and that these arrangements are well publicised so that all parents know how to make contact.
Some of the duties of the Secretary are to:
- Make arrangements for meetings and prepare an agenda in consultation with the Chairperson.
- Send a notice of the meeting, venue and agenda to all Parent Council members so that they will receive them in good time for the meeting. Agendas should be sent out for all meetings even if they are held at the same time and place each month.
- Keep a record of everyone attending the meeting and any apologies for absence.
- Let Parent Council members know about all correspondence received and report any action taken since last meeting.
- Take a minute of meetings, recording decisions and actions to be taken and by whom. This can be a task that is shared amongst members of the Parent Council to allow the Secretary to participate in discussions.
- Provide minutes for all Parent Council members prior to or at meetings.
Your Parent Council may have a Clerk appointed who will undertake all or some of the tasks of the Secretary. If the Clerk is not a member of the Parent Council they can be paid either by the Parent Council, or by the local authority. Your local authority can help in the appointment of a Clerk if this is what you decide.
Every Parent Council that intends to raise money should make sure a Treasurer is appointed to handle the money coming in and going out of the group. The Treasurer is responsible for the proper handling of the finances of the Parent Council, but not the actual raising of money.
The tasks of the Treasurer include:
- Having a clear and accurate book-keeping system that records any money received and how the money is spent.
- Maintaining the bank account. It is good financial practice to require two out of three of the Officers' signatures on cheques to allow any money to be withdrawn or spent.
- Producing a report for each meeting stating money paid into, or out of, the account since the last meeting.
- Advise on the amount of money available for the group's work and warn of excess expenditure.
Prior to the Parent Council Annual General Meeting ( AGM) the Treasurer should arrange for the year's accounts to be independently checked (audited) and agreed with the Chair. The Treasurer should present the audited financial statement at the AGM and answer any questions on the accounts.
It may be useful to have some sub-groups of the Parent Council to carry out some specific tasks. If you are setting up sub-groups these should be given a clear remit with someone taking responsibility for organising the group and reporting back to the Parent Council.
Some of the tasks you may consider allocating to sub-groups might include:
- Organising fundraising
- Planning social events for parents, children and staff
- Communicating with parents which might include a newsletter
- Working with staff on new approaches to learning and teaching and how parents can be involved
- Links with the community.