When St Andrew’s Primary School in Soham, Cambridgeshire had to close to many students due to the coronavirus pandemic, the PTA started looking for ways to keep everyone connected and decided to take part in the viral toilet roll challenge. PTA Chair Sarah Clayton tells us about the fun they had…
The St Andrew’s family
"The 'St Andrew’s family' is a phrase that everyone around Soham is familiar with – the school and everyone involved with it is a close-knit community. The school closed on 20th March and we’re keen to keep communications with our pupils during the lockdown time."
The PTA decided to push pause on fundraising and focus on ways to bring the community together in an inclusive, fun and non-competitive way. “One of the local sports teams shared their toilet roll challenge video, and we thought this ticked all the boxes for something we could do.”
Sarah explains “It’s really important to us that there’s no pressure on participants, so we made it as easy as possible to take part. We put a message on our PTA and school Facebook groups explaining what we were planning and the date we needed videos by. We thought we’d get a handful of clips but over 120 videos came in! We also asked the head teacher to start off the video, which was great as everyone knew him. A great deal of imagination was school by school staff and students – with dogs, trampolines and classic cars all featuring!”
There is a great deal of sadness and negativity in the news at the moment, so the PTA committee really want to keep people smiling and say that it’s OK to have a laugh. From speaking to Sarah, it’s apparent that those who work at St Andrew’s are truly invested in their jobs and really miss interacting with their students. Sarah tells us ‘this video has received some lovely feedback from staff, students and their families thanking us for helping them feel connected. I absolutely could not have done it without the wonderful PTA committee who bring so many different skills to the table’.
Sarah says ‘everyone always says I have mad ideas in the middle of the night, but I think they can turn into some of the best!’ Making the video was great fun with far more families getting involved than we thought would. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone will be comfortable with every activity on offer, so we have plenty of other ideas in the pipeline.
The next project we have lined up is ‘recreate a book cover’ and it’s been wonderful to see the creative streak coming out in some of the costumes! We’ve been really clear that it’s fun and you can dress up in anything you can find around the house, so there doesn’t have to be a financial element.
We’re also taking a leaf out of the supermarkets’ books and running a click and collect (socially distanced) Father’s Day shop. This is something we’ve done in the past for other events and the children really enjoy it.
Sarah’s top tips for others…
- When asking for help, mention a specific task as this reassures the person that it isn’t a long term commitment
- If you need photos/videos of children as part of your project, add a disclaimer to say that these can be used in your communications and shared with others
- Have a deadline for sending in photos/videos so that the person putting the project together has a clear time frame
- It’s great if you can get a person involved that all the children will know, such as the head teacher, school caretaker or local vicar