A school disco may for many of us conjure memories of girls on one side of the hall and boys on the other and an evening of slightly awkward ‘not quite’ dancing to Bros, Rick Astley and the Birdy Song (I’m possibly showing my age here!).
Having now organised a few Primary School discos over the last 2 years I can safely say that these days the kids don’t seem to suffer the same levels of embarrassment and the discos are fun, noisy affairs with some impressive dance moves thrown in. There’s nothing quite like watching 60 children do the floss as fast as possible!
I know that all schools run their discos slightly differently and have different limitations with regards to teacher/parent involvement, however I’ll focus on the set up that works well for us.
For background, our school contains approx. 240 children and we run 3 separate discos in one evening and run them 3 times a year (November, March & June). We have 60-90 children at each disco.
Before the night
As most school disco organisers will probably attest there are 2 aspects to disco organising that are the most frustrating….
Firstly, it doesn’t matter how many reminders you send out via all forms of communication there will always be parents who forget to buy their ticket in advance. And secondly, volunteers can be hard to recruit.
For the first issue, I have to admit we’ve never managed a disco without last minute sales but we have reduced them significantly via a few steps.
- Using only online ticket sales so you can close sales before the disco.
- Increasing the price by 50p a week before the disco.
- Explaining to parents the reason tickets need to be bought in advance is because we need all emergency contact and collection details in order to produce our registers. Occasionally parents just think we’re being awkward and it helps to remind them it’s for their children’s safety.
As for volunteers, we put the onus onto class reps to help with this one and specify 6 from each year group. At the end of the day if not enough people step up we will cancel their child’s disco and that seems to give them the nudge they need.
Once the evening arrives the discos tend to flow pretty smoothly. For us this is primarily due to the fact that we have a few volunteers who keep coming back and they know what needs doing and just get on with things and rally the newbies! As the organiser I just tend to float around checking everyone is happy and filling in gaps / topping up floats etc.
On the night
Reception & KS1 disco runs from 15:30 to 16:30
Year 3 & 4 from 17:15 to 18:15
Year 5/6 from 18:30 to 19:30
We have no teacher involvement in the evenings and we ideally have 6 parent volunteers from each year to give us at least 12 parents at each disco (some brave souls do all 3 discos back to back!). We ask parents to arrive 15 minutes before the discos and they are allocated jobs – a few milling around the hall & keeping an eye on the toilets(!), some face painting, one topping up drinks and one person washing up cups. For the KS2 discos we also have a people on tuck shop, hair spray & glow stick selling.
For the KS1 children the disco is fairly simple. After school they stay in their classrooms and make sure their bags etc are ready for when they are collected later. (They have a mufti day on that day to save the faff of changing clothes & inevitable lost uniform!) Their teacher then leads them into the hall and we check our lists to make sure we have the right children.
They are each given a packet of crisps and a drink - water and squash is also available to them all evening.
The disco runs for 50 minutes. We have a great DJ who does games for them during this time and keeps them entertained and our parent volunteers ensure they are not getting too boisterous with their dancing!
All children at the KS1 disco can have their faces painted for free if they want to and there is a quiet area outside the hall for those children who need a rest.
At the end of the disco they each get a glow stick and a small packet of sweets to take home.
Volunteers lead them to their classrooms to collect their belongings and then as parents arrive they are checked off the pre prepared lists.
In the meantime, the hall gets rearranged for the KS2 discos which are run slightly differently.
The children are ticked off as they arrive, the volume is turned up a little and the lights turned down.
For the older children there is the opportunity to spend a bit of pocket money on treats and other extras and they love this opportunity to treat themselves. We offer:
Coloured Hairspray – 20p
Bags of sweets or crisps – 50p
Finger Lights - 50p
Face Painting - 50p
Glow sticks – 20p (in future we’re hoping to reduce plastic by offering UV face paint instead)
The DJ also runs games and dance competitions for the older kids.
As per the KS1 disco, they can drink as much water & squash as they want for free as the last thing we want is dehydrated children.
The KS2 discos are darker and noisier but the children do just as much dancing and love the competitions the DJ runs and the fact that he takes requests (the Birdy Song is nowhere to be seen!).
At the end of the final disco the lights go one and the children are asked to collect any rubbish they can see. They then sit in the hall and parents walk through and collect their child and are ticked off at the door.
Once all kids are accounted for the volunteers do a final tidy and clean and then we all go home for a well earned rest (and possibly a stiff drink!)
Jo Sharp, St John's School, Lacey Green
(St John's School is a member of The Stamptastic PTA Rewards Scheme) and received a £30 fundraising voucher for writing this blog post. If you would like to write a blog post for us please join our Stamptastic PTA and Schools Facebook Group to find out more!)