Five-Minute Marvels: Rocketman! How one PTA Dad is making a big difference

Fundraising Supporting Learning Primary Community Engagement England
26 November 2019

School transitions can be hard, and Richard wanted to be as involved in his son’s as possible, so he joined the PTA. Little did he know that his love of engineering would inspire so many children!

Who are they?

Like many parents, Richard Brigg and his wife visited a lot of different primary schools, searching for the best fit for their son. Eventually, they decided that Moorside Primary School in Lancaster was the right choice. Alexander was in a small nursery setting,” says Richard, and whilst we were a little concerned about how he would adjust to being in a large primary school, we felt that the school offered a greater variety of clubs and activities due to its size.” Alexander moved into reception class in September last year.

What did they do?

Although we felt we’d made the right decision, it was quite daunting for us as a family,” Richard explains, so I decided I’d get involved in the school community, and signed up to join Moorside Friends PTA – MOORFS. My in-laws used to be committee members of a Christmas Tree Festival, and as I’m a mechanical engineer by profession, I’d spent a lot of time building Christmas tree-themed games, so I jumped right in at our first Christmas fair.”

This led to him being asked by the PTA whether he had any other creations that might appeal to the children. I’d built a ride-on electric jeep for Alexander and we set it up in the playground during the school summer fair. We sold 120 rides, which raised £240, and was a very popular activity at the event.” 

What happened next?

Following the success of the jeep rides at the fair, I also thought about how as a parent I could best offer support to the school staff in ways perhaps beyond typical PTA activities. One of the first things that came to mind was offering support for the children’s learning.” The link between MOORFS and the school staff is really effective, with strong communication between the two. So, when a request came through to the PTA asking whether any parents would be able to support Year 5’s latest topic – learning all about space – Richard knew it was something he’d be able to help with.

One of my other Christmas Tree Festival props was a rocket tree, which easily dismantled into separate parts. I converted it into a regular rocket, before it was placed in the Year 5 classroom for a few weeks to enable the children to interact with it.”

How did it go?

The response from the children was absolutely wonderful, not to mention the fantastic thank-you card they made for me in class with their teacher. The children were so excited to learn and it made me appreciate how inspirational teachers can be. With any luck, some of the children might have gone home that bit more interested in reading and learning a bit more about space, science or engineering!” 

I think it’s got some of the other parents thinking about how they could help out in a similar way. I’ve been quite vocal about how rewarding I’ve found it and the great feedback I’ve had – not only from my own son, who loves seeing me in school, but from other children too.”

Richard believes that getting involved in the school and utilising his engineering skills has had a really positive impact. We’re talking about setting up a building group and although this is in its infancy, I think it could be the catalyst for other parents getting on board and utilising their skills for the benefit of the children.”

Richard concludes: I’m really grateful to MOORFS for making me feel so welcomed to the group. They provided me with the means to get involved, and it’s thanks to their friendly, welcoming, and supportive atmosphere that I was encouraged to continue my involvement in school life.”

With thanks to Richard Brigg of Moorside Friends PTA

Want to make your own marvel? Getting involved in the activities of a new PTA?

  • Think about what you can offer – it doesn’t have to be much. Volunteering a few times a year goes a long way, but if you have skills and knowledge you can put to use in organising or running events, that’s even better!
  • Dads are just as important as mums! Get them involved as much as you can to create a diverse and effective PTA.