Mark the PTA achievements of the past year with a family event. Invite the entire school community along - pupils, teachers, parents and friends - to mingle, have fun and let off steam. You might also want to invite famililes of new starters to ease any jitters and to demonstrate what a friendly bunch you are!
A family film event can be a major affair, while still being simple to organise. Your film choice can dictate a theme for your event, providing instant spin-off ideas for added fun! Filmbank Distributors can supply many movies just 8-12 weeks after their cinema release (subject to availability), so add some glitz to your event by hosting your very own premiere!
If the weather is behaving, why not hold your movie screening outside? Not only will this save cleaning spilt drinks and trampled popcorn off the floor of the hall, you could throw in a BBQ too! Secondary schools, or those with a bigger audience, might want to hire an inflatable screen and sound system from a company such as Skylight Cinema - factor in costs of at least £500 (excl. VAT). Failing that, a well-ironed white sheet against a wall and the school projector should do the trick! You might also need to obtain a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) from your local authority (if your school has a premises licence for 'regulated Entertainment' you'll be covered on that), and a Single Title Screening Licence (STSL) from Filmbank to cover copyright. If you plan to hold your event outside, state this when ordering your licences.
Alice and Wonderland garden party
Hayley Payne, PTA Chair, Priory Junior School, Gedling, Nottingham (212 pupils) told us: 'Our summer garden party was held at the end of the school year with the theme of Alice in Wonderland. Each class was given a budget of £20 to create something to sell at the fair - the winner was the class that earned the most profit. They came up with some wonderful ideas, including personalised bunting, decorated plant holders, candles in teacups, and recycled sweet wrappers backed with duct tape and zips to create unique pencil cases. We set up a long table in the hall to create a Mad Hatter's tea party. One of our TAs created beautiful teapots that were displayed around the hall. She also made mini teapots containing sweets that parents could buy. We had 'Eat Me' and 'Drink Me' stalls with colourful drinks, cakes, and Queen of Hearts jam tarts. Stalls included a very profitable soak-the-teacher, and a local band played throughout the afternoon which added to the atmosphere. We were delighted to have made over £1,800 profit!'
Put on your dancing shoes
You can't beat a disco - they're always popular and fairly stress-free to organise. But having all the family there offers up every opportunity to relive your youth and embarrass your offspring with some Oops Upside Your Head and The Birdy Song! It also means you don't need to worry about child:adult ratios and signing children in and out. If you don't feel able to cope with that much excitement, then perhaps a ceilidh or barn dance would be more appropriate? Throw in a simple supper and run a bar to make a night of it.
Ask committee members and/or staff to write a series of quiz questions, including some easier ones for children to answer. To keep costs and organisation to a minimum, ask everyone to bring their own drinks and snacks. Participants form teams and answer questions - five or six rounds of ten questions tends to work well.
Sonja Mitchell, PTA Chair, Avenue Junior School, Norwich, Norfolk (465 pupils) told us: 'Our summer BBQ was a lovely way to celebrate the end of the school year. We booked a DJ, a ukulele club, school bands, and a circus skills workshop. We contacted local attractions for raffle prizes, including museums, National Trust venues, spas, cinemas, a bowling alley and local eateries. We had 30 fantastic prizes donated! We sold tickets in advance, charging £1.50 for children and £2.50 for adults. A local butcher provided the meat on a sale or return basis, wine was also provided on a sale or return basis by our local supermarket, and a local brewery gave us some real ale and bitter in kegs. On the day we laid out tables ready for the BBQ to start at 6pm. We had an ice-cream van, cake stall, children's bar, tombola, raffle, ten-pin bowling, karaoke, stocks, and a bouncy castle. Burgers and hot dogs were sold at £2.50 each, with vegetarian options, too. It was a great event and we sold 499 tickets, raising an amazing £2,700!'
An international smash
If your school community is culturally diverse, then hold an international event and encourage everyone to get involved. Divide up the role of organising the event into subcommittees responsible for different countries or cultures. Can local restaurants help provide some of the food? Could local dance teachers provide some salsa or banghra lessons? Or belly-dancing, if you're brave enough!
Debbie Watkins, PTA Chair, The Holt School, Wokingham (1,250 pupils) told us: 'Our Hawaiian luau had a cocktail bar, which several PTA members offered to run! We offered a selection of cocktails and non-alcoholic fruit cocktails, as well as soft drinks, beer, wine and Pimm's. The committee sourced the bar licence, an inflatable slide, food, drinks and decorations. We decorated gazebos with garlands and put fairy lights in the trees, and invited all our guests to wear Hawaiian shirts - the louder, the better! We charged £1 per person, and our BBQ served Hawaiian chicken, plus traditional sausages and burgers. We created a beach area using builders' sand, complete with buckets and spades! There was also a giant bouncy slide and several games stalls, including hook-a-duck, racing pigs, a coconut shy and a giant pinata. A group of students sang and played guitars, then later in the evening we had karaoke. We raised £1,200 altogether and had a lovely evening.'
Diane Walton, event organiser, Farsley Farfield Primary School, Farsley, Leeds (461 pupils) told us: 'Our campover was a wonderful community occasion that families could enjoy at the end of term. We sent letters home asking families to book a pitch - we charged £8 for a tent or caravan, and £5 for a family day-ticket. There was a huge amount to organise, including risk assessments, licensing, security, and a wet-weather contingency plan. Our campers arrived at lunchtime on the day, and then the entertainment began! We had water pistol games, den making, a car boot sale, stalls, face painting, a birds of prey display, tug-of-war matches, a one-man theatre show, a Gruffalo adventure and a ceilidh. We cooked a BBQ lunch, followed by homemade chilli or curry in the evening. We also had a campfire and some families roasted marshmallows. The school kitchen staff also came in at 7am on Sunday to provide a full English breakfast! School toilet facilities were available, though the rest of the school was closed. We made £3,500 profit last year!'
What does your PTA do? We'd love to hear from you - please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your ideas.