Events in UK schools are worth over £60m annually - is your school getting its share?


In person and virtual school events are transforming school incomes - are you taking advantage?

In recent years, millennials have fuelled a rapidly expanding sector of in real life (IRL) experiences in which 72% of them prefer to spend their money to engage in live events instead of on material possessions. 

This seems to apply to millennial parents too, where we’ve seen the number of school community events and tickets processed in the last few years grow on Classlist at a compound monthly growth rate of 10%. 

Other factors contribute to parents interested in attending events at their kids’ school. With more than 70% of both parents working and not making it to the school gate, parents are feeling increasingly isolated. Parents' nights out, parties, dinners and balls are an important way of connecting. PTA events that involve all family members are especially popular: fireworks, concerts and Christmas fairs. Even better when pupils participate and extended family such as grandparents can attend! These events also contribute important cash for the school.

On the flip side, parent associations (also called PTAs, PAs, PTOs and Friends Of) are finding it more of a challenge to find volunteers to help out. Regularly we hear: “It is always the same half a dozen that help out at everything.” This seems to be more a British trend. In the USA, parents are all expected to participate and PTOs provide a wish list of 50 or so tasks for parents to sign up to, 25% of which can be completed remotely. In Australia, parents are asked to volunteer ten hours per year on behalf of their school.

Those UK parent associations that persevere in arranging inexpensive fundraising ideas for their school community can raise substantial sums for their schools. Schools using Classlist are raising over £2,000 per year on their events. This is about a quarter of the total sum raised by the average PTA in the UK. In the UK market this equates to over £60m of funds generated per year. According to our stats, the average ticket price charged is around £15 and around a third of parents are paying this annually. 

School leaders have an opportunity to build stronger communities – and make money

There is a core staple of six events that school leaders should encourage to take place in their school as a minimum for enhancing their communities:

  • Welcome coffees for new parents. These can start to happen before the term starts. Some occur as early as June for new reception parents commencing in September.
  • Class coffee or night out, ideally one per term
  • Bonfire or Harvest Festival 
  • International day
  • Christmas party and fair
  • Summer party and fair
  • Leavers' event

This kind of programme won’t happen without the support of parents. An effective parent association can be a huge asset for the school in driving parent engagement.

Parent Associations are vital engines for healthy communities

We analysed the volume and type of events parent associations have been organising on Classlist the past 12 months. The chart below highlights that PTAs are impressively organised. There's a huge amount of forward planning that goes into summer fairs and Christmas events.  Even August is an active time, with PTAs and Class Reps arranging coffee mornings for parents to meet up prior to the start of the new school year. PTAs are often synonymous with cake sales. In reality, they are insignificant compared with other activities. Schools are not known for hosting movie nights, but they are popular, a cheap way of raising money for the school and aren’t dependent on a particular time of year.

Increasingly we are seeing ticketed events put on by the school or PTA that relate to parenting and child wellness and personal development:

  • Career talks by parents open for pupils and parents to attend
  • Mental health talks
  • Drug awareness talks
  • How to teach your child maths
  • Returning to work

Back to fundraising. The major money spinners include:

  • Summer balls and winter balls
  • Fireworks and bonfire nights that encourage local community attendance. A small primary school raised £10,000 recently. 
  • Fairs with entry fees and auction prizes
  • Quiz nights
  • Wine and Cheese Evenings (including non-alcoholic options)

Take a few seconds to do your bit and inspire your kids

Just as parents want to attend fun and informative events, the organisers always need more helpers.

Use Classlist's sign-up tool that makes volunteering super easy. Parents can sign up to a defined task in just two clicks on their phone. So now there are excuses! Children seeing their parents volunteer and in turn volunteer themselves, learn to become better citizens. So there are direct benefits to be gained in addition to potential new friendships to be made for both parents and children when working on a task together.

Perhaps every parent of school age children should make a new year’s resolution to help their school out for two hours this year? 

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