In this November Roundup we share news and trends across the Classlist network. Check out our Community Expert Podcast for advice and tips. Plus recent feature updates that we hope will make your life easier.
There is no doubt that the Pandemic has shaken up how PTAs collect money from parents. Cash is out and digital solutions are in. Indeed, it’s the only practical way of selling tickets to online events, collecting donations, selling school uniforms and merchandise. Or virtual stalls at the Christmas fair. So it’s a pleasure to announce it’s now FREE to sell tickets or items on Classlist.*
Changing the rules
Just as we were getting used to the ‘rule of six’ the social distancing game changes to a new ‘rule of two’, for in-person gatherings. (If you haven’t already, check out our sign up tool for assigning groups or in this case pairs.) It’s no surprise then, we’re back to holding more virtual events this month.
The good news is that schools are still open and virtual events are proving to be fun! And dare we admit it – attendance is higher than some of the in-person events we held previously. OK, virtual Christmas Fairs aren’t going to be quite the same (although we’re hearing about some amazing extravaganzas – more about that below). But virtual coffees and book clubs are proving to be a real hit this term. In fact they are attracting a more inclusive diverse group of parents. Especially for those parents that can’t make it to the school gate. We’re also seeing more dads contribute to their school communities. Including volunteering to join their parent associations.
With the fantastic news that a vaccine is on the horizon, Clare and I are dreaming of arranging ‘In Real Life events for the summer term at our respective schools. But whatever is ahead, the past few months has shown how creative school communities can be. We’re expecting community leaders to continue to think out of the box and arrange both online and in-person events in the future.
On the subject of creativity, there are some innovative events taking place on wellness. Perhaps this in response to the mental health issues identified by experts the past few months. In fact a recent Open Data Institute report referred to in the Financial Times, found “An alarming rise in stress levels among teachers and parents.” Personally I’m happy with this new wellness trend. Facial yoga sessions; mediation classes and highly qualified speakers talking about health. All hosted within the school community and accessible from home.
In contrast to virtual events for parents, events for families held in the last month have been about getting away from screens. Exploring the outdoors and the local neighbourhood. Halloween and harvest (now Christmas) trails have proved to be very popular. These are also money spinners, where tickets include the clues and maps for participants.
Inspirational Role Models
With all these amazing initiatives we felt compelled to share them and let you get to know some of the super heroes behind the scenes. This is the inspiration behind our new Community Expert podcast. Check out episodes with Jinger Stevens and Charlotte Bullock. Two seasoned school community leaders and Classlist Ambassadors, who offer tips on what’s worked well in their communities. Especially during the Pandemic.
A second theme covered in our podcast is the idea that community management skills are valuable and transferable beyond the school gate. Listen to our other podcast guests advise how to make this transition.
If you have a story you would like to share on our podcast or want to recommend someone contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan and Clare
THIS MONTH’S TOP STORIES
Fundraising ideas with a twist during Covid-19
by Clare Wright on November 12
Our e-book ‘fundraising ideas with a twist during Covid-19 has had a record number of downloads. We look forward to updating this over the course of the next few months. In the meantime here is a link
Virtual Wine and Cheese Evenings
Virtual Wine and Cheese evenings are proving to be super popular with parents. Gin tasting is another option too. The range of possibilities on how to run these events is extensive. From outsourcing the entire event to event management company, appointing a sommelier to host the evening, to suggesting certain bottles to be ordered directly from Majestic. Tickets are ranging from £25 to £100 per person. But the average mean is around £30 per person. Whatever the format, for most schools the focus is more about fun than the educational aspects of wine tasting. If you are still planning an event click here to learn more.
Raffles how to run them virtually
Raffles are a staple of almost every PTA’s annual fundraising plan. With the move to cashless payments, raffles have thrown up a bit of a challenge around what is allowed to happen. However, many charitable raffles aren’t subject to gambling rules, for example if sold to your ‘members’ or conducted on school premises. See how you can run a virtual raffle using Classlist.
Virtual Christmas Fair
Christmas Fairs are the highlight of many people’s year, and the prospect of a year without one is worrying for schools which rely on the money raised. All is not lost – even Christmas Fairs have moved online! Some PTAs are running events lasting weeks, and others are holding fairs on a single Saturday like usual. We are seeing plans for virtual fair openings and singalongs, the opportunity for children to buy presents for their family via the PTA, crafts in online breakout rooms, auctions of class group art projects, hamper raffles and kids’ competitions. Local businesses may sponsor you or offer raffle prizes if they get some time to showcase their wares during your virtual fair.
Use the ‘12 days of Christmas’ as a theme to start communicating daily with parents via colourful Classlist announcements about what’s coming up. And you can set up your event on Classlist with tickets for everything from your stalls, to breakout activities to gifts. Classlist payments are integrated into our app, so it’s much easier for members than alternative platforms. Read more about fairs.
New Classlist fence banners
We often get asked what is the easiest way to let parents know about Classlist. Lots of parents are having to wait outside the school gates for pick up during Covid-19, so we have designed a fence banner that you can put up to let parents know about joining Classlist. We have found a company to supply them direct to you for just £13.99 (incl delivery). See details.
Promoting inclusion with stories
It is anti-bullying week and the charity CLEFT has been very fortunate to have the world-famous children’s author, Mem Fox, agree to share her readings of three of her wonderful books. Mem’s books are cleverly written for children age 3 to 6 to contemplate the idea of inclusion and acceptance. The message of the stories is that no matter what we look like on the outside we are all the same on the inside, and that the people in our lives love us unconditionally. This fits in very much with CLEFT’s ethos of believing that all children are special and deserve the same level of medical treatment no matter where they are in the world.
CLEFT is providing these story readings on the website, and there are also useful resources and guidelines that can also be downloaded for teachers and parents/carers, should this need to be a lesson away from the classroom. If further information about CLEFT would be helpful to support any children born with cleft lip and palate in your school, please email email@example.com.
Every week we receive lots of ideas on how we can improve Classlist. Here’s the heads up on some of the new features we’ve introduced recently or that are coming soon:
- Online events – we’ve made it easier for you to share your video link and for parents to connect to your event
- Class Reps will be able to edit their group image from next week
- Keeping the conversation going instead of starting a new thread: Attach a photo or file to a comment
Enjoy planning some alternative Christmas activities this month, safe in the knowledge that by the summer we will hopefully have had the vaccine and can go full steam ahead with catching up on seeing friends and arranging events. Something to look forward to!
Susan and Clare
*Excluding payment gateway fees from external providers which still apply.