When their school had to close its doors to pupils due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Towcester Primary decided that they’d keep each other’s spirits up by creating music videos and sharing them among the school community. Catharine Tarbun, chair of Friends of Towcester Primary School (FOTOPS), tells us how they went about it – and how much fun they’ve had along the way…
“Towards the end of March, we’d found out that school was closing due to coronavirus - and it was really a case of just getting on with things,” Catharine recalls. “Like everyone, we were all trying to find our ‘new normal,’ and adjusting to home working, home schooling and not being able to venture far from home for very long.
“Little did we know that prior to the Easter break, our wonderful teaching staff had been busy compiling a video of them singing ‘Stronger Together’, which they’d posted on the school’s website, to give us all a much needed boost.
“It was absolutely wonderful for the children – and parents too – to see their teachers in the video, and to hear their positive messages. The song they’d chosen is a firm favourite among the children, which had been brought back after children performed it at the Young Voices concert a few years ago. The lyrics really resonated for many parents too; let’s just say there were lots of happy faces and a few happy tears shed too!”
At a time of such uncertainty, the school’s messages of support to one another through the personal music videos have proved to be a great source of comfort and reassurance. They have been watched several times over and have put a smile on lots of faces – as well as happy tears too!
Catharine tells us that word quickly spread about the teacher’s video and led to an interesting development: - “We received a message via the FOTOPS Facebook page from a parent, asking whether we could come up with our response to the teacher’s singing video – and we thought, why not? It would be great for families to get involved in making a video that we could share with the teachers and wider school community.”
Families feel the power!
Catharine says that the PTA posted a message on its social media page explaining that they’d like to get children and their families involved in a music video. “We put forward the suggestion of the song ‘Power in Me,’ which is another school assembly favourite for the children. We gave parents a deadline and asked that they send us a video of their children (and the parents, if they wanted to get involved!) performing the full song. Each class has its own social media page on Facebook, so we shared the details on those pages too, so that we could spread the word.”
Catharine says that within a couple of weeks the PTA had received over 20 videos, some featuring two or three family members, and children playing musical instruments too. “We were completely blown away but the number of families and children who’d chosen to get involved.
“With help from PTA family members, we spent time compiling the final video during the Easter holidays and we were able to feature all the families who had contributed – including the PTA members! We were really happy with the final result.”
We ask Catharine whether the teachers had any idea what they were planning: “I think we completely caught them off guard, so it was a genuine surprise,” she says. “We shared the video on social media and also via the school’s online platform, Tapestry, and soon received some absolutely lovely comments from the teaching staff, and from school governors too, saying how great it was to see and hear the children performing, and how much it was enjoyed by those still in school. It was great fun to make and even better to see the teacher’s responses.”
Changing the shape of future events
Catharine mentions that the success of the online videos has made the PTA team think about what else they could communicate via online videos whilst the schools are closed: - “We’d normally be starting to plan the events we host for parents whose children are joining in September, where we explain what FOTOPs is all about and encourage parents to get involved. We’re keen for our fundraising efforts to continue - we’re fairly close to raising what’s needed to fund the new school library - so we’re considering putting a video together, which could help us achieve some of our aims.
“In terms of other initiatives, we’re looking at creating a community recipe book, collecting favourite cooking recipes which have been enjoyed by families during the lockdown period. We’re hoping to include those families who are joining the school in September, whilst also creating something of a keepsake for the families of children who are moving onto secondary education.”
Finally, Catharine tells us they’ve heard a rumour that the teachers are planning another video, “So, for now, it looks like it’s going to be an ongoing sing-song between pupils, parents and the staff!”
Catharine’s top tips for online video making
- Choose a catchy song that the whole school enjoys singing together
- Make sure you have some willing volunteers to assist with putting a video together
- Drum up lots of excitement about making people smile, using not only voices but instruments too
- Communicate what you’re doing in as many ways as you can (during lockdown the school’s social media and website pages are invaluable!), so you can spread the message far and wide among the school community
- Use an online platform such as We Transfer so that the videos can be emailed to you from various families. We then used iMovie, a video editing software application, to create the final video.