DWINDLING membership has triggered the collapse of two school PTAs amid concerns about parents' growing indifference to joining.

The Henry Box School in Witney and Abbey Woods Academy in Berinsfield have issued desperate pleas to parents warning that their parent-teacher associations are on the verge of disbanding.

Without them, fundraising for events and trips could be lost as schools battle against funding pressures.

Their struggle reflects a drop in involvement nationally – a report by the Sutton Trust last month found that parent participation in children’s schools is now ‘notably lower’ than five years ago.

Abbey Woods headteacher Grant Mottram urged parents to revive Parents of Abbey Woods (PAWs), and said it would be a ‘pity and a loss to the children’ if the PTA was forced to disband.

Writing in a newsletter he added: “I heard with sadness that the PAWs group is standing down and disbanding.

“PAWs contributed so much in terms of events and money to buy the few extra items the children needed.

“I would urge you to get together and see if this can be resurrected and supported by a wider group of mums and dads as the current team has been rather small and lacked support from others.”

Many PTAs are also registered charities and require officers including a chair, secretary and treasurer, and play a key role in fundraising, organising social events and bridging the gap between staff and parents.

A similar plea issued by the Henry Box School Association stated: “Nearly all the current committee would like to stand down as some no longer have children at the school and four have been actively involved since [the association] launched in April 2015.

“Without a committee the PTA cannot operate and will fold, so please consider putting yourself forward.”

On Monday the association held its annual general meeting but nobody took the vacant spots, including crucial roles of chair, treasurer and secretary.

The PTA will hold an extraordinary meeting next month and unless more parents step forward, it will be dissolved.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, who is also a governor at Botley School, said the situation was ‘worrying’.

She added: “It’s really clear that schools with high engagement with parents do better - it does raise attainment.”

Even at 630-pupil Windmill Primary School in Headington, previous years have proved a struggle for PTA numbers.

Headteacher Lynn Knapp said: “Even with a large group of parents we have still gone through phases of saying ‘unless somebody steps in and replaces the treasurer or chair, we can’t keep it going.’

“You get groups of people who come through and are very proactive, and others who sit in the background.

“Working parents have less time to devote to these things, and the responsibility that comes with it can be quite a big commitment.”

She said the current PTA played a key role in organising social events, and raised up to £20,000 per year through fundraising.

The school’s PTA now has two co-chairs rather than one, to split the time and responsibility the role entails.

In September educational charity the Sutton Trust released a report called Parent Power, in follow-up to a similar investigation in 2013.

One of its findings stated: “All schools should seek to have a parent teacher association with a wide range of parents represented.

“School based parental involvement has been shown to be associated with higher levels of attainment for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Parents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds were considerably more likely to report taking on one of these representative or supportive roles in their child’s school.”

In the highest uptake group polled, upper middle class parents, 36 per cent said they were either a PTA member, school governor or took another active role in their child’s school.

This was down from 48 per cent in 2013, and participation had dipped across all social groups.

National organisation Parentkind, formerly PTA UK, works to engage more parents in their children’s education.

In 2016 it polled more than 1,000 PTA groups across the country, and 77 per cent said their biggest challenge was getting parent volunteers or committee members.

Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting chief executive of Parentkind, plugged the benefits of playing an active role.

She said: “Many parents say they don’t have the time or opportunity to get involved, and in some instances, mums and dads may feel they don’t have the skills to help.

“Getting involved in the school PTA can help parents learn new skills, raise funds to support and enrich their children’s learning, and build community.

“If time is limited there are so many other ways in which to engage too.”