We’re now over halfway through the year and, while it hasn’t been the easiest six months by any means, there are still plenty of ways to make a difference this July. In this month’s newsletter, we’ve put together resources that can help you finish the school year on a positive note. Importantly, prepare for hitting the ground running next school year. Below therefore, are some resources we are recommending to help you to up-skill on the latest community management practice. So if you’re eager to invest in your own professional development, check out the resources at the end of this newsletter.
Enrolling new parents & the Big Move Up
There’s lots of discussion amongst Classlist Ambassadors recently about: inviting new parents; and getting ready for summer move ups. Although it’s a great help if schools invite parents to Classlist, school leadership teams are hugely busy right now. A quick and simple way for the school to invite parents to Classlist is a QR code invitation flyer. This can be sent to all parents through the school’s usual communications. Parents who join using the code are pre-approved, saving loads of time. Our “how to” guide is here.
For move-ups, this year we’ve automatically added a ‘New joiners’ group to your School Structure. This is because we found new parents register sometimes before Ambassadors are expecting them! If you want to get your School Structure set up right now, here’s a short video on how to prepare for new joiners:
When do most new parents join Classlist? Although the new school year is a popular time, many schools are onboarding hundreds of parents right now! One big advantage is that this helps families meet up (see below) over the summer.
Inviting parents and GDPR
Lastly, those perennial GDPR issues. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) advise us that, at a minimum, your school is obliged to help the PTA validate and update your lists of parents, children and classes. We’ve worked with schools and government authorities across Europe on data protection. So, we are very happy to speak with your school. Contact us email@example.com.
Recruiting new PTA team members and Class Reps
It’s a tough time to be on a PTA. No real life summer events to bring parents together; a difficult climate for fund-raising; committee meetings via Zoom, and continuing uncertainty over what events will be possible for parents this autumn. Succession planning is always challenging. This year especially so, as fewer volunteers step up for committee roles or class or year group reps. And there’s a new unwelcome dynamic: school leadership teams have been under huge pressure: organising online learning; and making difficult decisions on when and how to re-open. Inevitably, some parents aren’t happy with the outcomes, which in even the best of schools in the country can lead to friction.
School staff are telling us, that as schools reopen, keeping closely engaged with parents is one of their top priorities. Far from becoming less relevant, your PTA now has the opportunity to help at a really critical time. New autumn parents are a particular flashpoint as there probably won’t be normal the range of welcome events where families can meet each other. So, how to attract new talent to your PTA, or pass across the baton?
- First, reach beyond your personal networks. Many PTAs use Classlist announcements to ask for new members.
- Secondly, try a different tone; see below how lively job descriptions powered a highly successful recruitment campaign
- Thirdly, look for new sources of talent. 90% of our Ambassadors are women. With remote working the new normal, more dads are volunteering to help out. Read one of their accounts of being a Class Rep.
- Finally, nothing beats a personal invitation. Don’t worry if the person you have in mind has no involvement with the PTA – this really isn’t a bar.
Help new families settle in with Classbudi
Family friendships born at the school gate can last a lifetime – both for children and parents. Those informal meet ups aren’t happening right now, and this autumn many schools will be cautious about hosting new families at indoor events. In addition, some pupils also want to meet their new classmates informally over the summer holidays.
To help families connect in an easy but safe way we’ve developed a brand new video feature which matches new families into video chat groups of three or four. Families can join from Classlist with a single click – even easier than Zoom. Over a few days the system automatically rotates parents around so they can meet the whole class or year group. Response to initial pilots in Scandinavia and UK has been fantastic, and we’re trialling with more schools across Europe this week.
The working title for this feature is ‘Budi’. If you’d like your school to get early access please mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can video really substitute for real life meetings? We’ve just run a survey where more than half of parents thought they could make new friends using video chat. And this problem isn’t just confined to schools. With employees unable to meet in person, make new friends or trade new ideas at the water cooler, business and government organisations are starting to experiment with introducing newcomers through video “roulette”. We reviewed some of these early stage solutions before designing Classlist’s Budi system. With more and more working parents unable to get to the school gate, and a new school focus on including all parents in the community, video-based introduction systems might even become a standard feature of school induction.
Spring cleaning, holidays and the marketplace
By now you’ve probably played every board game in your house – several times. If you haven’t used something during lockdown, now might just be the time to let it go. Charity shops and school second hand clothing shops are getting back into gear (see below). No surprise then to see Classlist’s Marketplace bubbling as parents trade school clothing, sports kit, bicycles and musical instruments.
Encourage your parents to post before Thursday so their items can be included in the weekly digest.
Selling second hand uniform safely this summer
The Ambassador Circle has seen some interesting discussions about how to sell second hand uniforms and collect money safely. Here are some top tips.
- Safe item collection. Put a wheelie bin outside the reception. Pupils/Parents can drop their donation into the Wheelie bin from Monday-Friday. The uniform remains in the bin from Friday for 72 hours for pick up Monday morning, by which time they will be sterile.
- Safe appointments. Assign parents to 20 minutes time slots with a max of 3 parents and 3 students at any time observing social distancing.
- Be on time! We’re hearing that some PTAs charge a £5 deposit for appointments – reimbursed on any purchases to avoid wasted appointments!
Classlist’s “Community Events” makes it very easy to collect deposit money, and the Sign Up tool can be used to have parents choose their preferred time slot.
READ MORE how schools are reinventing their second hand uniform sales.
With the school year almost over many school communities are collaborating on teacher gifts. We’re hearing about fantastic ‘teacher survival kits’. Goodies including cakes from parent bakers, coffee, tea, wine and flower growing packs, for example. Distributed in a specially printed canvas tote bag.
Feel you’re a bit late to organise this? Mercenary though it might seem, in a survey we ran two years ago teachers said they valued gift vouchers. Whatever you chose to gift, Classlist Ticketed Events makes it easy to collect money – just call your event the name of your teacher and invite parents to pay for tickets.
Getting ready for autumn term events
Part of what many Classlist Ambassadors really enjoy is getting parents together at events – often to benefit the school or selected charities. The organisational skills required can be breathtaking, with months of preparation. The summer term is normally Classlist’s busiest period with calendars chock-full of fairs, birthday parties and leaver events. Term still isn’t over and a number of schools and PTAs have done a great job with virtual events. We’ve picked out two interesting options below.
It is still very unclear what parent school events are possible this autumn (we’ve got our own Classlist CXFest scheduled for 9th October so are betting. Some ambassadors are starting to issue “hold the date” invites, with confirmation to follow, which seems a sensible route. Best case, “in real life” physical events can proceed, with appropriate safeguards. If meeting up isn’t possible try a virtual race night or virtual balloon race. It’s easier to set up than you think!
Virtual Race Night
A fun filled evening for all the family, with a chance to win some money with a flutter on the horses. Bring your school community together for a virtual night at the races.
Families can place bets on the horses in 8 races. Then you screen the videos of 8 horse races in your event video call. There are real winnings to distribute to the people who bet on the winning horses. And money is raised for your chosen charity too.
- Download footage 8 races and commentaries for £20.
- Use Classlist paid events: to sell the names of your 8 races; name the horses in advance; and to sell bets before your event starts.
- We have worked out how this event can work virtually. For detailed info on running your event see here.
Virtual Balloon Race Fundraiser
Run a virtual balloon race just for your school you can run your own one for £495 plus VAT. You can set the balloon price yourself and keep 3/4’s of the revenue. You can start making money after selling 200 balloons with this option. So for large schools this is worth it. Plus it will create more of a buzz at your school.
Classlist Events and Community Management Resources
Something for your diary – we’ve a stellar range of experts on community building lined up to share their insights with you. Sound familiar? We’re crossing our fingers and planning to meet (yes, In Person) near Shepherd’s Bush in West London on Friday 9th October. So, please save the date.
Take advantage of the summer holidays to up-skill your community management skills and knowledge. With the new social distancing rules at school, it’s a great time to develop online community management skills and techniques. Here is a list of our favourite community management books and resources:
- Richard Millington, Founder of Feverbee. Subscribe to his newsletter and read his books
- Community Management Expert Hub. If you want to take your experience up a notch and become a professional
- The Art of Gathering, How We Meet and Why it Matters, Priya Parker
- People Powered, by Jono Bacon
- The Art of Community, by Charles.H.Vogl
- Human Networks, By Matthew Jackson