Events for school leavers

What kind of celebration is your PTA organising for the Year 6 leavers this summer? If you need ideas for events, look no further.

Garden party

As a Covid-safe alternative to an indoor mini-prom, how about getting everyone dressed up for a garden party? Ask the children to vote on a menu to get them involved. For decoration, use fairy lights, flowers and bunting made from old school uniform. You could even add a theme - how about red carpet, Alice in Wonderland or a masquerade ball? After a slap-up meal, get some music playing (ensuring you have the correct licence) and everyone dancing to bring some festival atmosphere to the school field.

Leavers' BBQ

A barbecue or a picnic is a great way to get the children and their families together. Remember that your some of your leavers' parents are saying goodbye to the school too. Use the school field, and ask parents to bring picnic blankets or camping chairs. If attendees bring their own alcohol, you won't need a licence. Thrown in a quiz over the PA system to encourage that competitive spirit one last time!

Colour run

Send pupils off with a bright bang! A colour run is a fun run with a crucial difference - colourful powder for runners, marshals and spectators to throw. Encourage runners to wear white for the full rainbow effect. The powder is made from cornflour and non-toxic dye and cashes away easily without staining clothes or the ground. It is also costly, so see if any local companies are happy to sponsor it or charge participants enough to break event.

Graduoke gift

Emma Evans, PTA chair, Stewart Fleming Primary School, London (480 pupils): 'We wanted something unique - after some research, we came across TDH Media, which produces a personal pop video filmed at school with the children singing along to a track. This sounded like just the novel idea we were looking for! The cost was approximately £10 per child - with a total fee of £565, which included the filming and a DVD for each child. This was slightly above our budget but it was worth the cost and the kids loved filming it. We were so impressed with the finished product! It was very simple. We just picked a song and then spent a day recording it at the end of term. The school actually allowed us to premiere the video in the school hall after the Year 6 production. In fact, many of the parents cried! This year is my first year as chair and I'm going to discuss leavers' gifts with the school council and see what the Year 6 children want to do this year, but I think the Graduoke is going to be a popular choice!'

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Treasure hunt

Take advantage of the summer evenings and run a treasure hunt around the school grounds, giving pupils a chance to explore their school one last time. Create a map with clues and set children tasks to complete along the way. These could be themed around the school, containing references to the leavers' former teachers, school trips and topics studied in their time at the school. Give prizes to those who complete the hunt - these could be yearbooks or other parting gifts. Have a cake stall and plenty of celebratory refreshments available at the end.

Break the rules day

Give pupils one more chance at mischief before they leave. Create a list of ‘rules’ that can be broken on the allocated day. Normally a 50p ‘fine’ is charged for each one, but you may wish to run this event for free as a treat for the leavers. Rules could include:

  • You must wear your uniform
  • You must not have temporary tattoos
  • You must not have a silly hairstyle
  • You must not wear nail varnish
  • You must drink only water
  • You must not have chocolate in your lunchbox

You could also incorporate some leavers' traditions with rules like 'you must not sign each others T-shirts' - just make sure parents know! 

Consult teachers before announcing rules to make sure it won't cause too much chaos. You may wish to set a limit on how many rules can be broken to avoid too much mayhem!

Wacky wipeout

Who doesn't love an obstacle course? Create a crazy challenge using whatever equipment is available to you - this may be hula hoops, footballs, cones and hurdles. Lay out your course on the school field, being sure to give it a test run to make sure it all works as you intended. Invite leavers to run the course, with their fellow pupils stationed around the area ready to spray them with water pistols, bubbles and even coloured powder. Place a photographer at the most exciting part of the route to take a souvenir photo of each runner.

Sarah Williams, chair, Friends of Ladygrove Primary School, Telford, Shropshire (295 pupils): 'We wanted to run an event that enabled our Year 6 pupils to let off steam after completing their SATs. A "wipeout" was chosen as it would involve the whole school while also promoting physical activity and raising money.

We started planning four months before the event, sourcing equipment that already belonged to the school, then approaching local businesses for sponsorship to fund additional equipment, such as water pistols, animal sponges and bubble machines. We created a letter with a permission slip and sponsor form, which went out to all pupils, who then sought sponsors at home.

The all-day event was held on the playing field, the week after SATs. We ran several sessions throughout the day and each session was timed and allocated to a class. The PTA arrived early (around 8:15am) to set up the course. This was quite quick as we'd already done a dry run the day before. Children set off in pairs, and when they reached the fourth obstacle the next pair would go. Members of the PTA and children from Years 5 and 6 were dotted around the course to provide support, fire water pistols and throw wet sponges! (This was tailored to suit the age groups taking part.) For the final run, the teaching staff and TAs ran the course while being soaked by the children! And at 3:15pm parents were able to run the obstacle course for our final lap. A total of 260 children and 20 adults ran the course, and we raised almost £900!'