There are few better times to engage your community than at the start of a new school term. Local organisations can certainly benefit from hosting back to school events – they’re a great way to tap into an existing or new set of customers, and can also provide real value to your attendees.

Back to school events are an opportunity to make potential patrons aware of what your small business or charity has to offer. What’s more, kids and parents will be excited at the prospect of meeting their peers for the first time or seeing them again after the school holidays.

Below, we take a look at some back to school event ideas that bring communities together for a common cause or goal.

Community back to school event ideas

Craft afternoons for kids are an engaging way to bring parents and children together for some creative fun before the start of term. Falkirk Libraries regularly organises science events that let children get hands-on while also being educational – think colour-changing pictures, foaming lava, and robots.

Other community back to school event ideas include hosting festivals and fetes. Valley Music Festival Stocksbridge raising funds to support Music Education puts on creative events that inspire pride in the community. The events themselves feature local school children who showcase their instrumental talents, ranging from playing the piano to the trumpet, and put on rock concerts. Better still, donations taken at the event go towards supporting music education in schools and helping individual children apply for tuition grants.

Back to school workshops

Back to school time can signal big changes for families, such as new expenses to consider, exams to prep for, and applications to complete. Organising workshops to help manage these changes can be a relief for families in testing times.

Early intervention mental health charity Standing in the Gap puts on sessions to help Year Six children and parents adjust to the transition from primary to secondary school. Their event marketing includes valuable statistics (99% of parents would recommend a session to another parent) that illustrate how useful previous attendees have found their workshops – and this is what helps inform potential new guests.

Similarly, Sheffield Parent Hub offers specific, localised parent advice for those whose kids attend school in the city. This ranges from workshops on how to promote good sleeping patterns to supporting students with additional needs.

Back to school retail events

Small businesses can play an important role when it comes to supporting families sending kids back to school. A new term often means children are in need of new books, clothes, or school supplies – so it’s no wonder parents appreciate an event that helps with all of this!

St Bede’s School in Redhill arranges events offering opportunities to purchase, refund, and swap clothes at its shop to ensure parents looking for supplies can plan ahead for the start of term.

Meanwhile, creative workshops for children to make their own supplies are an interactive way of learning for kids. Plus, who knows? These homemade supplies might come in handy and mean parents can save a little on back to school essentials. Elasha Creations‘ sewing workshops are an excellent example of this: regular events give children a chance to learn how to make a variety of accessories, tote bags, and even clothes.

Social back to school events

It’s important not to forget the social side of going back to school. Informal social gatherings can help take the anxiety away from that experience and replace it with a sense of excitement for the term ahead. Friends of Burwell Village College holds a back to school music festival, which is a chance for parents and children to have fun and do some fundraising while they’re at it (now that’s a bonus).

Meanwhile, the Cookham Rise Primary School PTA runs a school-themed quiz and supper event designed to help parents meet up and socialise before sending their children back to school. At the same time, the ticket price helps raise much-needed funds for the school itself and contributes to the cost of trips, books, and workshops.

How to organise back to school events

Start by making your event fun and accessible to the whole community. Proper planning is essential to make sure that you can clearly communicate your goals and provide a valuable, enjoyable experience to all your guests on the day. That process starts as soon as you begin brainstorming for your event. We’ve listed some of the most common things for you to consider when you get started:

1. Decide on the purpose of your event

Will your event be to make a profit, to fundraise, or to build awareness without making a profit?

If you’re a local business trying to connect with your customers, your first challenge is to convince them to shop local rather than buying their back to school supplies from chain retailers.

As a non-profit organisation, your aims will be different – and so will your approach. Fundraising will require you to pinpoint the issues that your guests already care about and wish to help tackle.

2. Choose activities that your guests will enjoy and find rewarding

Whatever your goals, it’s crucial to align your event activities with your guests’ expectations. Family festivals, for example, should be packed with activities that cater to both adults and children. Back to school church events need to have a similarly broad appeal, with inclusive activities that bring the community together.

If you’re a small business, differentiating yourself from large retailers may hinge on how your event represents your values within the community. In an increasingly diverse society, events that celebrate culture can help small retailers offer parents the chance to educate children on cultural differences.

3. Select a suitable location for your event

Will your back to school event take place on school grounds? An indoor sports hall? Or will you need to hire a venue?

The key thing about planning these back to school events is keeping the community at the heart of your planning. Making sure your event is within easy walking distance or a short journey away by public transport means it will be more appealing to local people. To some extent, the activities you have on offer will dictate the choice of location, but hire costs and licensing considerations might also form part of your decision-making process.

Remember: the location you choose will play an important role in your event marketing strategy. It will have an impact on your overall budget, your messaging, and your sales strategy for selling out your family event.

Ready for the new school year?

Take inspiration from the communities around you when creating a back to school event. For more planning tips, tricks, and tools on how to cater to schools and families in your community when creating engaging events, sign up to Eventbrite.

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