Thank you FOBs!
22nd July 2021
Confronted with an incredibly challenging year, our school PTA, Friends of Barrington School (FOBS), has demonstrated remarkable agility to raise over £20,000 this year, an incredible amount for our small school of 105 pupils. Faced with the difficulties of COVID-19, we expected fundraising to be seriously depleted this year. However, FOBS has been extremely creative in both raising money and securing donations to ensure that the school can continue to enrich the curriculum, at a time when first hand learning by experience is so important to support children’s re-engagement with school, boost their progress and support their mental health and well-being.
Funds have been raised in 2020/21 through new events designed to keep our children and their families closely connected whilst physically apart during lockdown. Innovative events this academic year have included a Virtual Escape Rooms, Virtual School Disco, a (socially-distanced) Fun Run and a Virtual Auction of Promises.
In April, the PTA created a new Fun Run, challenging our children to run a pre-designed 1km route around Barrington’s village green, raising sponsorship for each lap completed. To be Covid-secure, the event ran over three days with children encouraged to take part with their families. Children from every class spent the weekend racking up laps. One 6 year old completed a mammoth 16 laps and even a chicken took part in the event, joining his Year 6 owner on the day. It was great to see the children active and racking up their 1k laps, with prizes awarded to 14 children for their outstanding fundraising achievements. The event raised an astounding total of £2,226 for school.
These new initiatives helped to bolster our ‘more usual’ annual FOBS fundraising activities which this year included personalised Christmas cards, a Christmas Hampers raffle (raising over £1,000), school uniform sales, Bags2School & donations from sales on Amazon Smile & EasyFundraising.
In addition, we set up a FOBS Virgin Giving Money page to replace cash donations, registered FOBS with Benevity to help promote charitable giving within our local businesses, created a Facebook page to increase our reach to a wider audience, and have designed a brand new FOBS logo to replace the somewhat dated current logo. Our PTA Committee consists of a tight knit team who work tirelessly with the support of our wonderful Head and staff, committing time, IT and design expertise, sourcing prizes and providing unwavering enthusiasm all year, during a pandemic that has tested us all. Our village school has a small pool of just 80 families. The PTA is an integral part of our school and promoting a sense of community and belonging between families, the village and the school is hugely important.
The money raised by FOBS enables the school to enrich the education of all our children and provide vital school equipment and experiences that would not otherwise be possible. Every year FOBS provide funds to support the Inspiration Days programme of curriculum enrichment events to help engage all of the children. Over this last year (one that has sadly not involved school trips or residential trips away for the children), FOBS has helped to fund
- the school’s mini ‘PeaCow’ that has formed part of this summer’s ‘Cows About Cambridge’ art exhibition
- visits from members of different faiths,
- hiring an incubator and hatching ducklings and chicks,
- dance workshops from specialists in a range of different dance styles,
- Spanish lessons for Key Stage Two,
- e-safety workshops,
- children’s first aid training,
- school science week,
- surprise gift drops to thank all of the staff in what has been a very tough year for them,
- entertainment for the Year 6 leavers party,
- new STEM books for the library,
- ‘The Greatest Showman’ workshop for all of the school and
- the replacement of the outdoors climbing frame.
“We may be a small school in a rural village but the support of our PTA and our local community enable us to provide resources, experiences and activities for our children that would otherwise be beyond our limited budget.”
The Virtual Escape Rooms followed our school’s appearance on the BBC’s ‘The Repair Shop’ back in November, when an historic school sign was restored. We created the Escape Rooms based around our newly famous sign that had ‘mysteriously gone missing’ and ‘could only be found by completing the online challenge’. Determined to launch a family-friendly challenge whilst still in lockdown, the event was conceived and delivered in under a week. 100 teams from across the UK entered and it enabled our school community to compete virtually together, despite families being stuck alone at home. The buzz in school on the Monday morning after the school’s virtual escape room was incredible and gave everyone’s spirits a much needed lift.
Last December, FOBS organised their first ever virtual school disco. Two school Dads DJ’d an hour long set via Zoom, with disco merchandise sold online beforehand. Attended by many of the school children, it proved a fantastic way to both fundraise and connect our children together from their living rooms. Such events have had a significant role in supporting the mental health and well-being of our families and helped to maintain the feeling of being part of the whole school community, despite the social isolation of lockdown and social distancing.
Unable to hold a summer fete again this year, FOBS has focused attention on delivering two key fundraisers this term; a Summer Raffle and an Auction of Promises with 39 incredible and unique experiences. Items available to bid on (remotely) included a private flight, dinner at London’s finest 5 star hotel, a bespoke sailing trip, tasting tours of Hot Numbers Roastery, Pinkster Gin Distillery and Brewboard’s Micro Brewery, tickets to London Zoo, a framed Rolling Stones album signed by Mick Jagger, expert gardening help, private pilates & yoga classes and much more.
The Auction was extremely popular and raised over £3,500 for the school. The summer raffle, with 20 prizes including 4 wonderful summer hampers, raised just over £800.
Our school and village are small and the ethos of supporting the pupils in school has spread beyond our current parents and PTA. Members of the local community normally join the annual summer school fete and, in the absence of this, participated in our escape room. The local community is so supportive of the school that local residents got together during January’s school closure and very quickly raised enough money for the school to buy a bank of 14 chromebooks to lend to families, ensuring that all children had access to online learning.
In addition, parents and families have given up weekends to help paint classrooms, put together sheds, build new raised beds and create a sensory garden to help the children learn about nature and to promote more outdoor learning.