Plan your next school disco
Discos are a classic PTA event as they can be adapted to
suit children, families and adults alike. Whether you're planning
your first one or hold several each year, here are some helpful
tips to inspire you...
Family discos are great as it means everyone can come, so
there's no issues with parents with two children having to pick up
and drop off children for different time slots, plus they
allow the whole school community to get together.
Children's discos offer the prospect of a few hours' childcare
to parents, although consider whether parents will be allowed to
stay if desired. If you do this, limit it to one parent per family
for the sake of numbers.
For an adults-only disco, bear in mind that more considerations
need to be made before anyone can commit to coming - parents will
need to arrange childcare, for one. Survey parents to see if this
type of disco would be appealing and when would be best to hold
The obvious place to hold your event is in your school hall, but
if you don't have the facilities, how about hiring a local hall?
Ask your council for advice on suitable venues, and try to
negotiate a discount on hire fees. If you're a small school,
consider teaming up with other local PTAs and putting on a
joint family disco in the local village hall.
Many PTAs run one disco per term, either to coincide with
seasonal celebrations such as Valentine's or Easter or to mark the
end of term. Always consider which other fundraisers you're
offering in the same time period so you don't exhaust parents'
Depending on the size of your school and the age range that
attends, it may be appropriate to hold multiple discos for each
year or key stage.
A disco for younger children may need to be shorter than for
older pupils to prevent children getting too tired. Our research
shows that PTA discos typically range from 45 to 90 minutes.
Consider offering a party instead for younger pupils, who may
be intimidated by the noise and lighting of a full-on
Giving your event a theme can help create a buzz of excitement!
Popular ideas include crazy hair, shorts and shades, and monsters'
bash (for Halloween). For older children, how about a roller disco?
Appeal to adults with an 80s or 90s night.
Be inventive with how you tie the theme into the event - food,
music, clothing and decorations can all add to the fun.
If hiring a professional DJ, you'll need to book them early,
especially at busy times, such as the run up to Christmas or
wedding season. Ask for recommendations from parents. If you're
unfamiliar with the DJ, enquire about the playlist - after all,
songs need to be suitable for the age group. If you're not using a
DJ, check that any equipment you need is in full working
If featuring any form of live or recorded music, a PRS for Music and a PPL licence are required.
Your school may have this already, so it's worth checking. You
only need a TEN if you're planning to serve alcohol. If
this is the case, be sure to apply to your local council
at least ten days before the event.
You'll need volunteers to help set up, supervise children,
cover exits, sell refreshments, monitor toilet areas and clean up
after the event. It may be beneficial to recruit a member of staff
or two to help to control the excitement!
If children aren't being accompanied by their parents, consider
what adult:child ratio will be appropriate. Supervising adults may
need DBS certificates, although this is not
mandatory. All parents should fill out permission slips when
allowing their children to attend the event, including contact
details in the case of an emergency.
When holding children's discos later in the evening or in the
darker winter months, you need to consider how pick-up will work.
Chances are the school's outdoor lighting isn't great, and it's not
easy to send children home with the right adult when no-one can see
anyone's faces! Instead, get the children to sit down in the hall
and ask parents to come inside to collect them.
Tuck shops go down a storm with older pupils who love being able
to buy things with their own money. Offer a range of soft drinks,
crisps, fruit and sweets purchased from a wholesaler such as
Booker, which offers sale and return.
You can also sell glowsticks and fingerlights to add to the
disco atmosphere. To make it more exciting, consider offering a
glow products lucky dip - charge the same amount you would for the
sale of a glowstick. If your audience is too young to be trusted
with cash, include a glow bracelet or fingerlight in with the
ticket price and charge slightly more for entry.
Will you run your disco straight after school, or will there be
a gap allowing children to go home and eat first? Consider this
when planning the food you will supply - if you're hoping to sell
burgers but children have already eaten, parents won't send along
the money for seconds! If offering a meal, hot dogs are a cheap way
to feed pupils, or ask your local pizza takeaway if they can donate
some pizzas and deliver them at a set time on the day.
Face painting is always popular, as are glitter tattoos,
which can be bought as sets online. Party games are a great way to
keep younger children entertained. You might also be able to
offer a karaoke element - check with your DJ. If you have a
theme, consider running a competition for the best costume, with
the DJ handing out the prizes.
To ensure that all children feel safe to attend the event we
recommend you take the following steps:
- Provide parents with bullet points of what will happen at the
event so they can go through this with their child.
- Consider noise levels and lighting when planning the music, DJ
- Have a refreshments room where parents can stay - this can
double as a quiet area in which children can unwind.
- If you have the facilities, have two disco rooms, one of which
is quieter with subtler lighting, and allow children to flow freely
between the two.
Read our full feature on running SEN-friendly events.
Pre-sell: It's good practice to sell tickets in
advance and adopt a ticket-only policy on the door, as this means
you can confirm numbers beforehand, ensure you have the appropriate
number of volunteers and prevent overcrowding. Consider using
an online ticketing platform to reach parents easily. On the day,
sign children in against a pre-prepared list.
What to charge: Charges will vary depending on
your costs and what's covered in the ticket price. After asking our
PTA+ community we found that most committees charge £2-£3.50 per
child, or £5 for a family of three or more. Some PTAs only
charge the first two children in the case of numerous
Consider what you want your ticket to cover and the cost of
these items when deciding what to charge. Some PTAs simply charge
for entry and then anything else is additional, others will include
a snack, i.e. crisps or fruit, and unlimited squash, whereas more
expensive tickets may include something more substantial, such as a
Find trusted suppliers for all your events in our online
directory at pta.co.uk/suppliers.
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