Step-by-step: leavers' prom

Forget the humble disco - today's school leavers want to let off post-exam steam with a US-style prom

Most leavers’ proms are organised by school staff with input from Year 11 students, but with a wealth of event-planning experience under your belts, the PTA is well-placed to help. As this will often be the last time that many classmates see each other, help make it an occasion to remember.

Primary schools are starting to host ‘prom’ nights for leavers, although these tend to be more of an upmarket disco, still held on school premises. This guide is aimed at secondary schools.


  1. Agree a date and book a venue – your choice of venue is vital to give your event an air of glamour. Many hotels offer ‘prom packages’, where the food, drinks, music, service, and security is included in the price. If hiring a professional DJ, book in advance. If not, check that any equipment you need is available and in full working order. Arrange for a professional photographer or videographer to capture students on their big night.
  2. Check which licences you need. Read our event licensing guide 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 music licence (your venue may already have this). You no longer need a TEN.
  3. Have a budget in mind for the event and announce the cost per ticket as early as possible (generally between £20-35). Publicise your event about four-to-six weeks before the date. You will need security on the door to check tickets – make it clear to students that without a ticket they may not be granted access. Have a guestlist on the door and ask students to bring ID to prove they are who they say they are.
  4. Catering options can vary from a buffet, BBQ, or three-course meal. Agree what you want with your organising committee and taste samples before booking.
  5. Recruit enough volunteers. Start signing up volunteers to help set up, supervise pupils, cover entrance and exits, staff refreshments, monitor toilet areas, and to clean up after the event. Your venue may stipulate the number of chaperones required, otherwise work to a ratio of about one adult to five students.

Tips and advice

  • Regulated entertainment: A TEN is no longer needed, as recorded music was declassified as ‘regulated entertainment’ under the Licensing Act 2003 reforms in April 2015.
  • Music licences: If featuring any form of live or recorded music, a music licence is required. Many venues hold these licences, which will cover any events held there, so it’s worth checking.
  • Even if some students are over 18, most proms are run on a strict ‘no alcohol’ basis. Ensure that students know the repercussions for not abiding by the rules.

Limo hire advice

It’s all about making an entrance, and the choice of student transport ranges from limos to tractors and even mobility scooters! But advise parents to be cautious... stretched limos should hold a ‘passenger service vehicle licence’, like buses and coaches, or a ‘private hire vehicle licence’, like taxis. Without a licence, there is no guarantee that the driver is insured or that the vehicle is roadworthy. To check if a company holds a licence contact the DVSA or your local council.

Success story: pre-prom fair

‘We agreed which type of companies we wanted and who we would each contact: dresses, suit hire, shoes, accessories/jewellery, hairdressers, make-up artists, spray tan, nails, limo/car hire, flowers, photographers and room decorations/balloons. We ran the event from 6-9pm on a Thursday, in the main school hall. Space cost £45 for dress companies, and £30 for all other exhibitors. We also put together goodie bags where leaflets could be inserted for £5 for businesses who were not able to attend on the night, and free for those attending. We ran a raffle with some fabulous prizes donated by exhibitors. The highlight was a fashion show where Year 11 models wore outfits from the companies who attended, strutting down the catwalk in couples! Feedback was really positive and lots of people from other schools came along. We raised £500, which was match-funded by our local chemist. We will definitely hold another one next year!’

Carol Button, PTA chair, The National C of E Academy, Nottingham


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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.