Events for new families

Welcome new children and families to the school by running an all-inclusive fundraising event such as a barn dance, inflatables day, or a back-to-school barbecue

How can you welcome new families – and show off your brilliant association to prospective new PTA recruits? Here are some fundraising ideas for the new term, which shouldnt take too much planning.

Barn Dance

Johanna Haynes, PTA Secretary, All Saints Primary School, Suffolk told us: ‘We were lucky to be offered the free use of a beautiful barn, so decided to arrange a barn dance. We wanted to involve parents as well as the children so decided to go for an early evening event with a hot meal and bar. Posters were printed and displayed in local shops and in village community halls. On the day, volunteers decorated the barn, prepared food and set up the bar. 86 adults and 74 children attended, which was a good number to fill the space and create a great atmosphere. We charged £15 for adults and £2 for children, which included a jacket potato filled with chilli con carne, served with salad and a choice of dessert. We had a paying bar which raised £544.50. We collected an excellent selection of raffle prizes and our raffle raised £343. It was an excellent event, raising over £1,500.

Treasure hunt

Run a treasure hunt around the school grounds, giving new families the chance to explore. Create a map with clues and set children tasks to complete along the way. Give prizes to all those who complete the hunt and have a cake stall, tuck shop and refreshments available at the end.

Jane Campbell, PTA Chair, Burley and Woodhead C of E Primary School, West Yorkshire told us: ‘Our treasure hunt was to identify the location of abstract photographs taken from around the school grounds. Families bought a treasure hunt sheet for £2, then had to find the locations pictures – this wasnt easy and only three families correctly identified them all! They had to write a description of each site and once completed, families submitted their sheets plus the answer to a tie-breaker question. Two days before the event, wed had a parents evening for new reception class starters, so I was able to make new families aware of the event during my ‘talk, so a few of them came along, too. Combined with a BBQ and raffle, we made £818 profit, which, for a fairly easy-to-organise event with not many volunteers required, was great! I would highly recommend this idea to other PTAs.

Duck race

Jayne Wiltowski, PTA Chair, Horncastle Primary School, Lincolnshire told us: ‘Our duck race is a popular annual event for families. A thousand numbered yellow ducks are released onto the Horncastle driver and float downstream into a set of nets. Our planning includes organising the hire, collection, and delivery of ducks, preparing tickets, and collecting returned tickets and money. A local printer produces the tickets, and the PTA prints a set of instructions, which are bundled into envelopes and sent home. Each child is issued one ticket to return with the stub and £1, or if they are unable to purchase the ticket, return it to be sold elsewhere. Ticket stubs and money are then all collated into number order and pegged in groups ready for the race! Our volunteers wade into the river at the finish line ready to collect the first five ducks for the winnersprizes, ranging from £100 for first place to £10 for fifth place. All the ducks are then collected, bagged up and returned to their rightful owners. Its great fun and we raised £680 last year!

NOTE: A duck race counts as a form of gambling, so a licence is required. You will also need to seek permission from the owner of the stretch of water you hope to use. You should undertake a risk assessment, inspecting the site for potential hazards. Make sure you have a few volunteers to marshal the course throughout the race. All ducks should be removed from the water after the race to avoid the risk of pollution.

Inflatables day

Michelle Gubbings, PTA Chair, Harold Wood Primary School, Essex told us: ‘We chose to have an inflatables day as a way to welcome the new Reception families to the school. Planning started about five months before the event. The new children started a week before the rest of the school, so we decided to advertise the event in their welcome packs. The company we hired the inflatables from charged us £1,000 and were very good – they came with two helpers to supervise the use of the inflatables. Entry wristbands were sold in advance, at £5 per child. The event was held on the school field, and we also ran a tuck shop selling crisps, cold drinks and sweets. There were six inflatables altogether, including a small bouncy castle for under 5s, an assault course for older children, and a large bouncy caste, double slide and penalty shoot out suitable for all. About 20 parents volunteered to help supervise the inflatables and run the tuck shop over the two-hour event. It was a fairly easy event to run and we raised approximately £600!

Back to school BBQ

A simple back to school BBQ with football and rounders can be organised fairly quickly, weather permitting! Source food from your usual suppliers and pin down a handful of volunteers to cook and serve. Using high-quality meat makes a big difference and will mean that parents are more likely to buy grub at future events. Having a few games and activities will keep the kids amused, allowing parents to mingle.

Family film night

A film event is quick and easy to organise, promises lots of fun and offers a cost-effective night out for families. There are lots of films to choose from – will you go for a classic such as Petes Dragon or Annie, or bring it bang up to date with new releases? All you need is some chairs for parents, mats for children and a way of playing and projecting the film. You will also need an STSL to cover the copyright, but this is easy to obtain from Filmbank Distributors.

Magic show

Jacquie Moate, event organiser, Welwyn St Marys School, Hertfordshire told us: ‘We were looking for a fundraising event for families, and a few people had enquired about a magic show. We contacted a supplier who runs educational magic shows, and a certain number each year work on a party split basis, meaning there was no initial outlay – instead, for each £5 ticket sold he made £3 and the school made £2. He also advised us to sell refreshments and to run a raffle to maximise our profits. We held two shows on a Saturday afternoon, one at 2pm and one at 5.30pm. We sold a total of 156 tickets. Between them the magicians performed some amazing tricks and illusions. There was a huge amount of audience participation, which the children loved, and our parents joined in with great spirit –it made for a wonderful family show. With refreshments and the raffle, we raised £488. Not bad for a rainy afternoon!

Quiz time

Lucy Gammer, PTA Chair, Newminster Middle School, Morpeth told us: ‘Our chair writes the questions for our quiz night – including some easy ones for the children to answer – and everyone brings their own drinks and nibbles. Anyone not in a team or people who are in small groups usually get together on the evening to form larger teams. The teachers have their own team! We have approximately six rounds with ten questions each. The quizmaster asks the questions and then each team passes their answer paper to another team to be marked. My advice would be to make it fun and keep it simple, its an informal evening at the start of term.

Family disco

If you want to keep the need for volunteers to a minimum, how about a family disco where parents bring their own drinks and nibbles? State that parents are responsible for their own children, to ensure your disco is a doddle to organise. Just add a decent sound system, lights, the odd mirror ball and a DJ whos prepared to mix a bit of 90s Madness in with some current hits for the children.