International schools discuss community building through events


Following an interesting and informative live PTA discussion we thought we’d share some of the highlights, ideas and activity that occur amongst many of our International school parent communities.

Recently, we’ve delved into some of the community metrics in our Classlist communities. It appears that our International school parent communities are some of the busiest across the 33 countries we are active in. However, the numbers don’t tell all the story as many of the International school communities large and small come up against similar challenges when running thriving communities.

Community engagement ALL schools average International school average
PTA Volunteers 14 39
Events per year 30 75
Invitations / tickets sold 458 754

In a full, packed hour we discussed events, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, communications and engagement. Here are some of the points around events that were discussed.


All-school events are fabulous, but smaller events enable people to bump into each other and create deeper connections, so a mix of event sizes is a positive for the school community calendar.

Some events are pure fun, such as Halloween parties, whilst others are cultural or educational such as UN Day, or charitable such as donated shoe box gifts.

One of the panelists highlighted that the biggest and most popular event for their school was the Fish and Chip supper night which last year saw 2,300 guests attend. The event is made possible with Classlist’s event management system. For instance to help sell tickets and the sign-up tool to recruit volunteers for the various stations needed during the night.

The parent association president says, “Classlist has been used to centralise the functions for the night. It has come in handy and it’s been successful”. The long running, family favourite event continues to be a firm favourite amongst the 2200 pupils and around a thousand families who belong to the school in Singapore.” 

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International schools discuss events and communities

Set events happen every year. These become nice school traditions. The benefit of parents expecting certain events each year is that there is room for them to attend and, in the future, get more and more involved in the organisation.

Another panellist mentions the Halloween event they hold every year to be the most popular amongst parents and children. “With 500 pupils it is a large event, it’s all managed through Classlist and is a good opportunity for fundraising”.

However their personal favourite event is the hot food that the parent association provides for the pupils every Friday as the school has no canteen. It's a large undertaking where parents pre-order and prepay for their children’s weekly meal all handled through Classlist.

Our third panellist commented that, “When we ran a similar pizza incentive we didn’t have Classlist in our lives then” Now she runs the secondary school age of the school's parent association where the largest event is the International Night.

She continued to say that secondary schools still benefit from events for parents. Secondary school events that are topic based are popular. For example if they include a guest speaker on an academic or wellness topic, these are good hooks to attract a parent's attendance.

“We use Classlist for the most part to engage with our community socially. We put on a lot of smaller events through social groups.”

Adding that “events that invite a staff member to come along ‘Coffee and Conversation’ help to build up links between parents and staff.” These consist of ‘top of mind’ topics for parents such as digital safety. “The PTA hosts it and we organise the invitations and all the marketing is done through Classlist.”

TIP - ”There’s also Staff Appreciation during December national holidays, and thank you events for the volunteers.” Also celebrating the end of year achievements are important too. And notes that, “we support the school and create community, but the PTA is a lot more business-like for Secondary”.

Two of the panellists commented on the value of setting up country interest groups for parents to join. This encourages new parents to get involved and connect with others that share a common culture. They provide a key role of providing continuity and connectivity because unlike a one off event these groups are there for the whole year enabling parents to meet more regularly.

TIP - Language groups can help families connect and understand what is going on, especially if the main language used at the school is new to them. These can be easily set up in Classlist and can help form social groups for the rest of the year. Parents start in the smaller groups until they gain more confidence to contribute more broadly.

TIP - People who have connected in person, by attending a major event such as an International Day, add them to Classlist groups so they stay in touch. 

Also, check out our LIVE International PTA discussion panel on the topic of ‘Welcoming new families’ - watch video.

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