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 competition...

  1. 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 directory.
  2. 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 alcohol. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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 event.
  5. 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.

Novelty LB

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.
  • 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.

Share this page