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Here's what to consider before running your Christmas event
Be confident you've got everything covered before your school event so it runs smoothly. Get up to speed with what you can charge for, how to keep on top of health and safety, whether you need a licence or event notice, and how to manage data protection around photos and videos taken at the event.
- Can I charge for the event?
- Health and safety
- Photos and videos taken at the event
- Do I need a licence?
- Can I make staff attend?
We wrote this article with the help of the union ASCL.
Can I charge for the event?
You can charge attendees for any part of an event so long as it takes place outside of school hours and it's not providing education that is:
- Part of the national curriculum
- Part of a syllabus for a prescribed public exam that pupils are being prepared for at the school
- Part of religious education
Even if the event falls into one of the above categories, you can still ask people to make voluntary contributions but you must make it clear that there's:
- No obligation to contribute; and
- No one will be treated differently for not contributing
Alcohol at staff parties
It's up to you to decide whether staff can drink alcohol at parties.
Find out what you need to consider and how you might fund it here.
What to do with the funds raised
When you're charging attendees to attend an event, the charge must not exceed the cost of actually providing the event.
If you're asking for voluntary contributions, it's up to you to decide whether to only raise money to cover the costs of the event itself or if you want to use the event as a fundraising opportunity.
If it's going to be a fundraising event, make that clear and explain what the money will go towards. This should hopefully make attendees more generous and might encourage more people to come.
Learn more about what you can use a voluntary fund for if you want further guidance on this.
Health and safety
Conduct a risk assessment
Use our template risk assessment for school events to make sure you've considered potential health and safety issues, such as fire safety, car parking and first aid.
As part of completing this risk assessment, read our guidance on:
Use our template risk assessment for school events
Responsibility for pupils and other children
There are no firm rules about who will have the duty of care for children at school events outside of school hours, and it's usually safest to assume full responsibility, but you should consider:
- Are they at the event on behalf of your school? You should assume responsibility for children taking part in a performance or running a stall at a fete
- Will a parent or other adult relative be there? They should take responsibility for any children they bring, including siblings who don't attend your school, but don't assume a relative will always be there
Learn more about your school's duty of care for pupils.
Check your insurance - will it cover your event?
You should have public liability insurance that'll cover your school against claims made by third parties for any property damage, illness or injury caused as a result of your school's negligence.
Ask your insurance provider for details of your policy if you're unsure whether your event will be covered under this insurance.
Any external providers running activities at your event should have their own public liability insurance. Ask to see evidence of this insurance.
Read more about public liability insurance.
Photos and videos taken at the event
The rules on this depend on who's taking them and what they're used for.
Photos and videos taken by parents
So long as these are being taken for 'personal use', they're not covered by the GDPR.
However, for safeguarding reasons, you may want to ask parents not to share or publish images of students on social media without the consent of their parents.
You could do this in a speech, via a letter sent ahead of the event, or by sticking up notices throughout the event venue.
Photos and videos taken by the school
The GDPR does apply to these photos and videos.
You'll need to get consent from anyone included in them if you're planning to:
- Put them up on your website or around your school
- Share them on social media
- Sell them to parents
- Use them in marketing materials
Read more about seeking consent under the GDPR, alongside some template forms you can adapt if you haven't gained consent already.
Additionally, look at our article on age thresholds for giving consent to understand when you should be seeking the consent of parents on behalf of their children.
Do I need a licence?
You'll need to contact your council for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). This allows you to carry out a 'licensable activity' like selling alcohol, so long as fewer than 500 people are attending at all times, including staff running the event.
If you'll have more than 500 people attending at any time, you won't be able to get a TEN and you won't be able to sell alcohol.
Apply for a TEN at least 10 clear working days before your event, although you can apply for a 'late TEN' 5 clear working days before the event. There's a £21 fee for applying.
Find out more about how to apply for a TEN.
Putting on entertainment
You won’t need a TEN if your entertainment activities are held on your school premises between 8am and 11pm and the event is provided by, or on behalf of, your school.
This is because school premises are exempted from licensing requirements under schedule 1 of the Licensing Act 2003.
If the event is being run by, or on behalf, of someone else like a PTA, there's probably still an exemption that will apply. See pages 123 to 126 of government guidance to see the full list of exemptions.
What about copyright licences?
You can play most films, TV shows and recorded music in school without worrying about obtaining a licence. This is because these types of media are covered by centrally managed licenses for all state schools.
However, you'll need a copyright licence to put on a play or musical written by someone else if parents will be attending, unless the copyright has expired.
Read more about these copyright licences in our article on licence requirements for schools.
Can I make staff attend?
Check contracts and job descriptions to figure out whether you can require staff to attend or work at school events outside of the school day.
In the case of teachers, if they're employed under the terms of the STPCD, you'll need to make any mandatory attendance of a school event part of their directed time.
For part-time staff, read our article on part-time staff attending events for the rules if the event falls on a day they don't usually work.
You may decide to offer any staff working at these events time off in lieu.
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