The circus came to town last week.
Nothing unusual about that, you might think. After all, the circus always seems to be coming to town – at least there always appears to be a circus poster in the chip shop window telling us when to ‘roll up, roll up.’
There is a ‘feel good’ element to such events organised through our schools
But this touring circus wasn’t setting up a Big Top in one of the city’s parks or on an abandoned car park, like they normally seem to do.
This was a philanthropic show that had, at its heart, the aim to boost educational funds at one of the city’s junior schools.
For the benefit of Nook Lane School, there was a show on Wednesday night. What a scene.
The daring acrobats made their home on the school field. And in the huge tent that housed much of the Stannington community, the circus ensured their production was second to none.
This fantastic event in the May sunshine was organised by the PTA at the school, Friends of Nook Lane, and is one of the most ambitious and well-planned fund-raisers I have heard of.
The touring Happy’s Circus has made a speciality of appearing at schools to raise funds for extra curriculum products there is often no provision for in the incredibly shrinking world of educational budgets.
Of course, they take a cut of the ticket sales, but if the event is run well there should be plenty of cash left over for the school to boost its kitty.
Hot dogs, teas, coffees, ticket sales, popcorn and a raffle all helped to raise over £2,000 – a magnificent achievement.
And let’s not forget that putting on an event of this kind also has a big impact on other important areas, including the role of the school in the local community and the morale of pupils and staff.
There is a ‘feel good’ element to such events organised through our schools. Plenty of primary schools in the city have a parental group that takes on the task of raising money throughout the year.
Not all events are as high profile as a circus, of course, and neither should they be. The people who attended this event last week tell me it was very well run.
Bun sales, car boot sales, summer fairs, Christmas parties, film screenings and discos all come under the remit of these dedicated voluntary groups that aim to give a good time to kids and boost funds at the same time.
They are the unsung heroes of our schools and it’s about time their voluntary work was publicly acknowledged as their contribution to our schools applauded.
For the people organising, it takes up plenty of their time because some of these are complicated events are extremely complicated and need letters home, risk assessments and an understanding of the special needs at the school.
But not everybody lending a hand needs to put in so many hours; a real asset to any of these groups is having an army of parent helpers who are willing to turn up on the night and give an hour or two of their time.
Sadly, some schools are not overrun with parent helpers and begging letters have to go home to ensure these events can go ahead. I’ve heard of some well-planned fundraisers having to be cancelled because of there not being enough ‘hands on deck’ on the actual day.
This week, we have seen a successful and profitable circus put on in the north-west of the city, and hopefully the news of this additional cash will be spread around the region.
To those mums and dads wanting to see more facilities at their child’s school, I urge them to get involved. Go to the meetings held by the current PTA group. If there isn’t a group, then set one up.
Those parents who were involved at junior school but then took a back seat at secondary because there wasn’t a group established, I would recommend getting in touch with school and seeing about starting one.
Headteachers should encourage them, both to gain access to extra money and also establish a link with wider community. In this way, the PTAs will challenge the world.