Five-Minute Marvels: Eyes down! Holbrook PTA Brings Virtual Bingo to School Community

Primary Community Engagement England
28 April 2020

The Holbrook PTA quickly sprang into action to bring some much-needed fun to parents and pupils when lockdown came. We wanted to find out how their virtual bingo sessions are bringing the whole community together. 

Who are they?

Holbrook Primary School has 250 pupils and a dedicated team of fundraisers in the Holbrook PTA. PTA Chair Viki Barton tells us, For the past few years, we’ve run a chocolate bingo event in school. But as with all schools across the country, a few weeks ago we were told that the doors would be closing to the vast majority of pupils at the end of the week.”

What did they do?

The PTA got their heads together, and figured that families in the school community might appreciate having something to occupy their time during lockdown. We decided that we’d pop the six-game bingo books we’d already bought into children’s bookbags, so that they would go home with them on the last day of school,” Viki explains. We’d also asked parents to keep an eye on the PTA’s Facebook page for details of how the bingo games would run – although at that stage, apart from bringing the bingo number game home with me, I must confess that I wasn’t entirely sure!”

On this occasion, it wasn’t about fundraising for school: it was simply an exercise in bringing the school community together, to feel connected.”

One of the first tasks was for the team to agree on six dates when the virtual bingo would take place: We promoted the dates during the first week of lockdown so that everyone could pop them on their calendars, and we also ensured that families already self-isolating before the school closed received their bingo books.” They decided to run the sessions on Facebook Live, which would mean that everyone would be able to log onto the game. We needed to keep things pretty simple in terms of running the actual games,” Viki explains, with a prize for those winning a line or a full house.”

How did it go?

There was no trial run: I just made sure that my mobile phone was well positioned on a makeshift stage of board games and a Lego-built phone holder, to get the camera to optimum height! I started the Facebook Live a little earlier just to check all looked ok, and was surprised – and delighted! – as families started to join immediately. 

We’ve now held two of the six virtual games and we’re completely blown away with the number of families getting involved,” says Viki. I’d say it’s over 50 families who have played on both dates. The children really get into it, and grow increasingly excited as the game progresses; they’re happy just to play along without reward. It’s great to see the feedback coming in whilst we play: I’ve set up the laptop so that I can see the comments and respond to them whilst we’re streaming on Facebook Live.”

What’s next?

We ask Viki whether she feels that they’re reaching a wider number of families due to the current situation: We’re definitely engaging more consistently with parents across the whole school community, so that’s really encouraging. On a similar note, it’s fantastic to see so many teachers joining in with the fun of the virtual bingo sessions too. It’s lovely for the children to hear their teachers getting involved.

We’re looking forward to our next bingo game, and have plans to introduce quizzes once all six bingo games have been played, to extend beyond May half term if needs be.” Viki concludes by reflecting, It really has been a great way of building our existing relationships – and building new ones – across the whole school community.”

With thanks to Viki Barton of the Holbrook PTA. 

Want to make your own marvel? Hosting your own virtual games sessions to keep the community engaged?

  • Viki and the team made great use of Facebook Live – it’s a fantastic way to host virtual games, discos, and more!
  • Keep an eye out for Parentkind events like the Big PTA Quiz, which can easily be run from home!