When my son started at Homes Chapel Primary School in Cheshire, I decided to become a member of the PTA. We were thinking of ways to raise funds, and I suggested introducing school hats – little did I know that my simple idea could become a regular income stream! Here’s how it all began…
It had been a very hot summer, and my son’s first term continued to be warm. As a new mum on the playground, I noticed that lots of children were wearing hats but while their uniforms were all the same the hats were not. I thought it would be lovely if the school had hats that matched the uniform and it might encourage more children to wear them to keep safe in the sun. At my second PTA meeting, I suggested the idea of introducing school hats as a fundraising initiative, which was met with a lot of enthusiasm. Another parent suggested that legionnaire caps would also protect the children's necks and the idea grew from there.
I volunteered to research school hat designs online, but quickly realized that it would be far simpler to work in collaboration with an expert. It’s very easy as PTAs to think we have to do it all ourselves when actually there are other people in the community who are happy to help us! I decided to visit local school uniform supplier Sam Dale & Son, and told them our idea. They were immediately enthusiastic and very keen to get involved, even suggesting adding a winter hat option so we would have three types of hat available. The shop went away and sourced a few prototypes, our main criteria being that each hat had to be the correct shade of royal blue, include the school logo and be easy to name-label. After only a couple of weeks the hats were ready for production!
My intention was that for every hat sold a percentage of the sale would be returned to the school - in our case, we decided on a £1 per hat donation to the PTA, which the shop sends to us every term. This enables us to keep track of how sales are progressing and which hat designs are the most popular. We received the first flurry of sales across all school years when we launched the hats. We expect that we will have a regular boost every September with the Reception intake and throughout the year as parents top up their uniform items. The hats are retailed exclusively from the uniform shop meaning there is no ongoing work for us as a PTA. The shop is also benefiting from extra sales as a result of people popping in to buy the hats and purchasing extra items at the same time – so the scheme is really benefiting the whole community!
We chose to launch the hats with a simple poster design competition that the children could complete during the Easter holiday. We didn’t want to burden the teachers with any more work so we designed a simple flyer outlining that the hats were launching soon and that there was one hat to be won for each class. These went out in book bags at the end of the Easter term with children requested to return their ‘Sun Safety’ poster designs by the end of the first week back. We had lots of entries and asked the teachers to choose class winners, with the PTA giving out 14 winning hats!
Each winning poster was laminated and displayed in the classroom as a means of encouraging the children to wear hats during warmer weather. We also designed ‘Coming Soon’ and ‘On Sale Now’ posters that were displayed in the school notice board and uniform shop window as well as being shared on our PTA Facebook groups. It is our intention that during the autumn term we will run a second competition focusing on the woolen winter hats. This may be a pom-pom design competition where the children can craft and sew on a colourful pom-pom to help identify their winter hat.
What has been particularly heartwarming about this initiative is how enthusiastic the school has been in supporting the idea. The hats have now been added to the official uniform list (but remain an optional extra as we didn’t want parents to feel forced into buying them!). We have also received very positive responses from parents who have commented on how smart the hats look.
The most interesting gauge though has been the playground where each morning we are noticing the number of children in school hats increasing. It’s also lovely seeing children around the village wearing their hats with pride. I think it has shown us that fundraising doesn’t have to be all about organising big events and giving up masses of our own free time. This was a simple project that didn't take too much time to deliver and will continue to raise money for the school for many years to come. On a personal level, it has been great working alongside a local company and has definitely made me proud as a parent and PTA member to be part of such a supportive community.