'An ambulance pulled up outside our school, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring. Inside, the children were practising CPR, but this was not an emergency. We were celebrating the launch of our new community defibrillator.
Our PTA is on a mission to make life-long memories for the children and build a strong relationship with the community. Local people are always so generous when we’re fundraising for our school, so it’s important to help them out in return.
So when the school floated the idea of a defibrillator, the PTA suggested it be made accessible to the wider community too. We needed to raise £1,600, and we were so fortunate that the Yorkshire Ambulance Service offered to split the cost. We were blown away by the community effort, and in two months, we had surpassed our target, raising over £2,000 through raffles, donation boxes and JustGiving.
The school held a special assembly to teach the pupils about this life-saving kit with the Yorkshire Ambulance mascot, ParaTed, in attendance. We love fundraising with the community because it shows our children how important it is to look out for each other.'
Lynsey Ryder, previous chair and Sarah Fawcett, current chair, Robin Hood Primary School PTA, Wakefield, West Yorkshire (450 pupils)
Campout for homelessness
'As I lay outside on a dark February night, my fingers turned different shades of blue. Unfazed, I reached for my woolly gloves in a bid to keep warm. In neighbouring gardens, another 20 families from our secondary school were shivering in the cold too. Why had we pitched our tents in the middle of winter? To fundraise, of course. We called it our ‘Great Garden Campout’ and split the proceeds between the school and Manna House, a local homelessness charity.
Families were invited to make camp in their gardens for a night and raise sponsorship. Because of Covid, groups couldn’t mix at the time, but the campout gave people something unusual to do and the chance to help out.
The event was an opportunity to sensitively remind people that they were sleeping outside by choice. Of course, if we really were too cold, we could just grab another blanket, but homeless people don’t have that luxury.
As well as promoting the serious message, we encouraged families to enjoy themselves and share pictures on social media. People got very into it, posting images of their families setting up tents, toasting marshmallows around a campfire and having a boogie before bedtime.
We collected sponsorship through JustGiving, and our campout raised £1,100. Half went straight to Manna House, and the rest supported the school with geography trips and foreign language library books. Our success has made us keen to run our ‘Great Garden Campout’ annually. We hope to see children team up with their friends and the head teacher pitching his tent this year!'
Claire Wickham, Chair of The Queen Katherine School Association, The Queen Katherine School, Kendal, South Cumbria (1,100 pupils)
Special persons tea party
'Our school garden was looking unloved. Parents had been working hard to clear weeds and paths, but the area still lacked colour. We needed an idea for an event that would brighten up the garden and reach out to the community. One PTA member suggested a grandparents tea party to involve more extended families. But because all families are different and not all children have grandparents, we made it a 'special persons tea party'. On the day, grandparents, friends, cousins, aunts and uncles all attended and it was a very inclusive event.
Each person was asked to bring a plant with them to brighten up the garden. Some people bought theirs at local garden centres while others had been lovingly grown at home by keen gardeners.
More than 70 special people came – a great turnout for a school of 93 pupils. It was so popular, we had to run two sittings in the school hall. We greeted the special people, paired them up with their special child and invited them in for cake and refreshments donated by parents. We provided a booklet they could fill out together, with questions to ask each other. Each special pairing had their photo taken, which was printed for them as a keepsake. We also handed out seed paper for them to plant either in our school garden or at home together.
Afterwards, guests headed outside to find the perfect spot for their flowers: some were planted in donated wellington boots, others in upcycled tyres made into flower beds, and the rest went into our flower borders.
The result was not only a colourful garden for the pupils to enjoy, but a warm feeling of people coming together. It was a special day for everyone who came, and we received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. An added bonus was that we raised £188!'
Amy Smith and Elaine Ball, PTA co-chairs, Sytchampton Endowed Primary School, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire (93 pupils)
'The PTA wanted to run an educational event for the benefit of the children, so we hired an inflatable planetarium from Space Odyssey for two days at a cost of £600. The school used six of the ten sessions on offer, and we offered the remaining sessions to local nurseries, pre-schools, primary schools, childminders and home-educated students. We charged £60 per session to cover our costs. We also held a Festival of Light after school to give parents a chance to see inside the planetarium and show them what their children had experienced that day. We were able to fit 60 people in at a time and in the end had to run two parent sessions!'
Gill Haynes, PTA chair, South Molton United CofE Primary School, South Molton, Devon (170 pupils)