Take the plunge!
1 - If your PTA isn't using Classlist, sign up!
It only takes a few minutes and makes it much easier for you to comply with new regulations
2 - Using your school office to forward messages isn't an ideal solution - it builds in delay and can make it difficult to reach particular groups or get feedback. Data protection concerns also mean some schools have removed this service. Managing your own Classlist site also gives you much more control over what you send to whom, and enables you to start a two-way dialogue with parents. It is also the most straightforward solution from a data protection perspective. Timing is very good right now to launch your own Classlist site. School heads are generally delighted that the PTA is taking the initiative around data protection and building your community. They can really help you be successful.
3 - As part of the sign-up process you will accept a Data Protection Agreement
which keeps us both squeaky clean regarding new regulations. Classlist users themselves enter all their personal data themselves and agree to the Terms & Conditions
and Privacy Notice
. If (as we recommend) you have a number of PTA members helping to administer the site, they will have access to more information and hence need to take special care: this is all covered in the T&Cs which everybody signs up to
4 - One important challenge as you start creating a new Classlist site for your PTA is how to invite parents in the first place, especially if you haven't been in direct email contact before. Classlist can provide lots of advice based on what has worked for other PTAs. Strong support from your School Head is very helpful in encouraging parents to sign up quickly and you will find suggested drafts which you can forward to your Head on your Classlist Ambassador dashboard.
5 - As a final step in the data protection jigsaw, before fully launching your site you need to alert parents two weeks in advance by posting this notice
on the PTA website, so parents know what to expect.
This sounds a lot of work. Can't my school just handle everything?
Most UK PTAs prefer to run their own shop and handle parent to parent comms. Schools tend to focus first on teaching and learning – meaning that parent stuff stays at the bottom of the pile. It's also simpler from a data protection perspective because parents know who's in charge and are clearly consenting to this when they sign up to the site.
However, if your school is keen and has resources, or you want the school to kick things off and involve parents later, Classlist already works directly with many UK schools and is happy to help. The school is typically already in email contact with parents which makes it easier for them to collect, manage and update parent data.
Where the school runs the site PTA members sometimes help out as part of the school's admin team. Because the PTA isn't taking the lead, PTA members must be careful that parent information they have access to through this special role isn't used for PTA purposes - for example transferring email addresses into a PTA database. They can still send and monitor email announcements, set up and manage events, and post messages - just like every other member.