NEW! Step-by-step: disco
Whether you're planning an event purely for children or
as some family fun, discos are a firm favourite with PTAs. Keep
things simple or throw in a theme, some party games and a dance
- Agree a date and book a venue. If hiring a professional
DJ, book early, especially at busy times such as the run up to
Christmas or wedding season. If not, check that any
equipment you need is available and in full working order.
Giving your event a theme can help create a buzz of
excitement! Popular ideas include crazy hair, shorts and shades,
monsters bash (for Halloween). For older children, how about a
roller disco? Find suppliers in our online
- Check which licences you need. Read our event-licensing
guidance or verify requirements with your local authority. As a
rule of thumb, if featuring live or recorded music (where copyright
applies), you should obtain a PRS for Music licence (your venue may
already have this). You may also need a PPL licence. You no longer
need a TEN (see tips and advice, below), unless you plan to serve
- Start publicising your event with posters around the area about
four-six weeks before the date (for professional poster solutions
go to PTA Print Shop). Good practice is to sell
tickets in advance and adopt a ticket-only policy on the door. This
helps control numbers and is a good security safeguard. Sign
children in against a pre-prepared list, taking contact numbers for
parents/carers as an extra precaution.
- Recruit enough volunteers. Start signing up volunteers to help
set up, supervise children, cover entrance and exits, staff
refreshments, monitor toilet areas and to clean up after the
- On the day... Set up your venue with decorations, refreshments
and entertainment - face painting is always popular, and party
games are a great way to keep younger dancers entertained. You
might also be able to offer a karaoke element, with a list of
available songs - check with your DJ.
Tips and advice for running a school disco
- Regulated entertainment: A TEN is no longer needed for a disco because
from 6 April 2015, recorded music was declassified as 'regulated
entertainment' under the Licensing Act 2003 reforms.
- Music licences: If featuring any
form of live or recorded music, a PRS for Music and a PPL licence
are required. Many venues hold these licences, which will cover any
events held there, so it's worth checking.
- Boosting profits: Increase income on the day by selling glow
products and by running a tuck shop. If your audience are too young
to be trusted with cash, include a glow bracelet or finger torch in
with the ticket price and charge slightly more for entry.
- Safeguarding: If children are not being accompanied by their
parents, check your adult:child ratios and start securing
volunteers. Supervising adults may need DBS certificates, although
this is not mandatory. For guidance, visit the Safe network website.
- What to charge: This may vary depending on your costs and what
you're including in the ticket price. Based on a poll on our Facebook page, most PTAs charge between £1-£4
or £5 for a family of three or more. Include squash and a
biscuit or a hot dog.
Download a print-friendly PDF version of our
step-by-step guide to running a children's disco.
Disco success story
Clive Cini, outgoing PTA chair, Courthouse Junior
School, Berkshire (390 pupils) said: 'Our discos are very
popular, and make around £1,000 each time. The profit rose from
£150 to £1,000 in about two years. The discos used to be held on a
Saturday morning, without a proper DJ kit and we were only charging
£1 per child. However, we have found that the more professional the
disco, the more children want to come and the more parents are
willing to pay. Our discos are for pupils in Years 3-6 and we
usually run them in the last week of every term. We charge £2.50
per ticket in advance, or £3 on the night. During the evening, we
sell drinks, glowsticks and hot food (pizza and hotdogs) but no
sweets. We buy a big shipment of glow products from The Glow
Company once a year, usually sold at £1 per item. We also run a
raffle (10p a ticket) with about 15 donated prizes, or leftover
prizes from fairs. The disco never runs for more than 90 minutes as
the children get overtired. Music plays from 5-6pm, we draw the
raffle at 6pm and then finish off the last 20 minutes with some
'big' music numbers! The school is lucky enough to have a dad who
is a DJ in his spare time and has all the kit. The DJ visits the
school in the week of the disco and does a brief 'Don't forget the
disco this Friday!' in assembly. The children get a letter in their
book bags with a slip to fill in for advance tickets. We don't
issue paper tickets - names are checked off against the class
lists. This saves time and hassle on the night. A member of
the PTA comes in every morning of disco week to
collect money and slips.
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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