Lycia Bish, from the Parents & Friends Association, Bishop Luffa School
The Parents and Friends Association (PFA) is a vital support group in all schools, but especially in West Sussex where an ongoing funding crisis means that teachers, increasingly, have to do more with less.
“When my youngest daughter started secondary school last year it seemed like the right time to give something back,” said Lycia, a mother of three from Chichester.
“I was aware of the funding issues affecting West Sussex schools and the PFA raises a lot of money for those extras that the children wouldn’t otherwise have,” she added, explaining that Bishop Luffa’s PFA supports the school through fundraising and regular financial commitment by Gift Aid.
Initially volunteering at a cheese and wine evening, Lycia then attended the PFA’s Annual General Meeting. As people were standing down, she decided to step up.
“I enjoy it; it gives you a network and they are a really nice group of people, but by going to regular meetings you also find out what is going on in your children’s school and you’re able to feed things back. The Headteacher and senior management are always there, so if you are aware of an issue you can bring it up at the meeting.
“Going to meetings made me realise how much goes on behind the scenes and how dedicated the school’s staff are. They really care about the students and their families,” she said, insisting that joining the PFA doesn’t have to be onerous; parents can give as much or as little time as they wish, play to their strengths and rest assured that they won’t get stuck running the annual disco for the duration of their child’s secondary education.
“Just offer to help out with refreshments at something like a parent consultation evening. You don’t have to come to meetings – just jump in where you can. There are plenty of jobs and it is nice to feel that you are doing something for the school.”
Major fund-raisers at Bishop Luffa include the Burns Night Supper, Grand Prize Draw and regular quizzes, with profits going directly to resources for the pupils.
“The PFA always funds and organises the prom. We discuss with the students what colour scheme, menu and theme they want and it is a really special night; a rite of passage. Some of the girls have already planned their dresses,” she laughed.
Often unfairly stereotyped as being the domain of bossy ladies clutching clipboards, whether you’ve got a voice like a fog horn that is perfect for calling a raffle, are a whizz at spreadsheets or can make a half decent cuppa, Lycia urges us all to support our school PFA by helping out or attending events.
“I am so impressed with the nurturing that Bishop Luffa offers, but I wouldn’t necessarily have seen the extent of that care if I hadn’t got involved with the PFA.”
If you can donate a prize for the Grand Prize Draw please call 07771 890854