Primary schools applied for permission to serve alcohol to parents at more than 8,000 events last year, leading to fears that children may pick up dangerous drinking habits.
A charity has warned that the regular presence of alcohol could lead young children to believe that drinking was an essential part of social events.
Debbie Bannigan, chief executive of Swanswell, the charity that compiled the figures, said: “If primary school children are led to believe that alcohol is an important part of every social occasion, we shouldn't be surprised that they then expect to drink at their own social occasions as soon as they’re independent enough to do so.”
The drug and alcohol charity found 8,400 applications for Temporary Event Notices - which allow the sale of alcohol in unlicensed premises - made by primary schools, after sending Freedom of Information requests to 312 local authorities.
Ms Bannigan said she was alerted to the issue after receiving an invitation to a Christmas disco, with licensed bar, at her daughter's primary school.
She said: “The head teacher believed it to be perfectly acceptable, having risk-assessed it from a health and safety point of view, rather than considering the school’s influence on the children at a very impressionable age.
“Our research indicates that many head teachers may be making similar decisions. We can only assume they are unaware that when kids see grown-ups drinking at primary school discos, they will expect to drink themselves once they are into High School."
The charity gave evidence to an all-party parliamentary group on alcohol misuse last month.
Tracey Crouch, Tory MP for Chatham and Aylesford, who chairs the committee, said: “So often we forget the effects of our actions on the perception of children.
“Granting alcohol licences at child-focused events taking place in primary schools suggests to children, at an extremely impressionable age, that alcohol is needed to have fun.
“Alcohol is so visible elsewhere that I don’t think it needs to be on school premises as well, and I would very much support a change in licensing to a presumption not to licence."Reuse content