Ideally, the core team should be a small group of no more than 12 people. Community consultation meetings can be organized by this core team and engage a larger group, including the students who will be using the space.
Meetings should be scheduled once a month, always on the same time and day to ensure maximum attendance.
The first step when forming your team is to consider who the stakeholders are. These include PAC members, teachers, students, school administration, community partners, neighbours, and other members of the school community. Schoolyards are a resource for both schools and neighbourhoods alike. You may want to consider inviting a representative from the local community to be part of the team, as community outreach is an important component of a successful schoolyard project.
- A select number of PAC members (more PAC members can be engaged during the fundraising and construction phase)
- School Principal
- A select number of teachers (representation from different grades)
- A representative from the facilities or maintenance department of your local school governing body
- Two student representatives
- A community representative
- A design professional/landscape architecture firm (to be engaged at the Create a Plan stage)
This team is responsible for actively engaging in the planning and design process of the new outdoor play and learning spaces. Each member of the team must be willing and able to attend the scheduled monthly meetings, and willing to participate in fundraising activities. In addition, members from this team will be responsible for ensuring that a plan is put in place for long term maintenance and phasing of the play environment, including amenities such as community gardens.
Getting the Word Out
Clear communication is imperative to your success. Hand out flyers in the neighbourhood, break into pairs and knock on doors, and send home flyers with students to ensure all parents at the school are aware of your efforts. This can help to bolster fundraising initiatives, and get people excited about volunteering additional help for the project.
It is especially important to communicate with those whose homes are directly adjacent to the school, as they will be the most impacted by the project. Try to have a face to face conversation with this neighbours, and express the positive impact that the upgrades to the schoolyard will bring. Let these community members know that you will be holding a design workshop at a later date, and that they are encouraged to attend and express their perspectives. In addition, encourage them to submit feedback via survey.
As part of “getting the word out,” you can hand out surveys to collect information from user groups that have experienced the existing school yard. Include these surveys with the flyers. Collect all of these surveys and include them with the site analysis work done during Know Your School.
- Student Survey (for teachers to implement during class hours)
- Parent/Teacher Survey (have teachers send home with students)
- Community Member/Neighbourhood Survey (mail outs, and distribute during door knocking)
Another option for the community member and neighbourhood survey is to create an online survey. We recommend doing this in addition to the paper version, to provide options for those who are more or less computer literate. This will ensure that you receive responses from the largest number of community members.
In addition, you may want to create a website for your school project, which can be used both to showcase progress on the project and to solicit donations as you start fundraising.
Finally, we recommend reaching out to your local school board or school authority if you haven’t already, and ensuring that they are aware of the project you’re about to undertake.