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Welcome new starters

With a fresh set of families joining your school in September, how can your PTA make them feel welcome?

The summer term is a frenzy of waving off Year 6 pupils and getting ready to welcome new Reception chidren. As well as a 'starting school' pack, the school may well organise sessions where new starters can sample what school is going to be like.

Any presence your PTA can have at these will be a good investment of time and effort - parents of new starters will appreciate some reassurance - and volunteering will make a difference to their children's day-to-day experience of school life!

Welcome pack

The school will be sending out a 'starting school' pack, so see whether a document about your PTA can be included, featuring:

  • A summary of why the school has a PTA and your aims/goals
  • A brief history of recent events and the amounts raised
  • Resources or experiences that the PTA has funded
  • How parents can stay up-to-date with PTA activities
  • Contact details for key committee members and class reps
  • How parents can get involved - volunteering, joining the committee, getting match funding from employers, becoming a class rep
  • Details of upcoming events

It's also worth including details of any fundraising schemes you run...

  • NAME LABELS: Before they even think about ordering name labels, get parents thinking about fundraising! Easy2NameSnappy TagsStamptasticStikins and Woven Labels UK and  provide cashback schemes where PTAs can claim 20-30% back on all orders.
  • 100 CLUB: A 100 Club is a form of private lottery, where members buy a numbered ticket which is entered into a regular draw. If you already run one, let everyone know! If you don't then this is the perfect time to set one up ready for the new school year - read our step-by-step guide to running a 100 club.
  • SHOPPING SCHEMES: Before parents start buying trousers, polo shirts and the like, make sure they're ordering via your Give As You Live, or equivalent portal. Many of the most popular retailers of uniform - M&S, NEXT, Tesco - will give your PTA a % of every £ spent. Read more advice on shopping affliate schemes here.

New school year events

Start planning your back-to-school events, sending out 'save the date' invitations before the summer break. Events that encourage the whole family to come along give parents the chance to mingle and make new friends. Events that work well are:

  • FAMILY DISCO: Ask parents to stay with their children - this reduces the supervision burden on the PTA (no panic about signing children in and out!), and gives parents the chance to let their hair down, too. Read our step-by-step guide to running a disco.
  • BEETLE DRIVE: 'Beetle' is quite a simple game of rolling dice and drawing a beetle, but when you run it as a beetle 'drive' you add in the element of moving tables - this makes for a lively and sociable event! Read our step-by-step guide to running a beetle drive.
  • TREASURE HUNT: Create a map of the school grounds with clues or simple tasks to complete. This gives families the chance to explore the school, so take them to areas of particular interest such as your music room, media centre or MUGA.

Summer BBQ case study

Jacqui Baldwin, PTA Chair, Eltham College Junior School, London (829 pupils) told us: 'For over 10 years, our PTA has organised a summer evening BBQ for junior school staff, pupils, their families, and new families who are joining the school the following term. In previous years we have relied upon our parents to take turns brandishing tongs and an apron to cook the food, but last year we decided to hire in the chefs, food and equipment so that all of us could relax and enjoy the evening. The Big Roast Company took care of all the cooking and serving, with a fantastic hog roast and barbecue. We charged £12 for adults and £8 for children, which included food. The Big Roast charged us £1,600, but we took about £3,500 in ticket sales alone so you can see the immediate profit on the food. Our barbecue is a great opportunity to welcome new families to the school, helping them to feel part of the community before those tentative first few days in September. Our Pimm's tent and raffle ticket sales also contributed £2,500 to our funds.'

Gingerbread men case study

Jodie Cox, PFA Chair, Wyborne Primary School, London (456 pupils) told us: We decided to hand out gingerbread men to our new reception classes on their first day at school. The intention was to help the children and their parents feel welcome, and to invite parents to attend our meetings and get involved with our PFA. I baked them myself and bought the cellophane food bags and ribbon from Amazon (for around £1.20 for 30 bags). We made the poem up and printed and laminated each one ourselves: 'The Parents and Friends Association of Wyborne Primary welcomes you, You'll find we help in lots you do, We thought you'd like this little treat, He's the first of many friends that you will meet! So if your grown-ups want some new friends, too. Tell them to join the PFA - we really are a friendly crew! It's lots of fun, with many rewards, And we buy the school the best stuff we can afford, It doesn't take a lot of time, But really helps the school funds climb, Then, while they improve things at school for you, They make new friends and have fun, too!'

Find fundraising events for new families here.

Have you got any tips and tricks for welcoming new starters? Drop us an email!

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