Red Nose Day with a difference

Written by: Laura Wilson | Published:
Image: Comic Relief

Funds from Comic Relief have gone to support some of the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a year like no other, what are your school’s plans for Red Nose Day? Laura Wilson offers some flexible resources and suggestions for primary schools

As we look ahead to this year’s Red Nose Day on Friday, March 19, it is extraordinary to cast our minds back to last March, when Sport Relief culminated in a fantastic night of television and we raised more than £40 million.

I was co-ordinating schools’ fundraising plans and the usual non-uniform days, bake sales and crazy sporting challenges continued as normal.

Just three days later, we were advised to work from home and avoid contact with others and stop non-essential travel. A week on, we entered the first nationwide lockdown. At the time, we never imagined that in 2021 we would find ourselves in a world of social distancing, masks, remote communication and lockdowns.

As Red Nose Day 2021 approaches, there has never been a better time to make a difference, no matter how big or small.

At Comic Relief, we fund hundreds of amazing organisations who are working on the ground to support the most vulnerable people and communities in society, including many of those hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis.

This includes vulnerable children and young people, people who are homeless or who have been forced to flee their homes, women and families at risk of domestic abuse, and those struggling with existing or new mental health problems.

We are enormously grateful for all of the hard work that school staff have put in during this difficult year. We also know that delivering lessons is top priority during this challenging time. But if you are able, we would love your support this Red Nose Day, whether that is through fundraising or simply raising a smile.

In the words of one of our founders, Lenny Henry: “The big day might look a bit different this year, but your laughter really will change lives.”

Laughing and learning

Red Nose Day offers opportunities for fun, engaging learning. This year, we have developed a range of resources that are flexible enough for you to use with ease whether pupils are in school or learning from home. Visit the website for a range of free downloads, including:

  • Our Red Nose Day film for primary schools, which tells the story of Ethan, a nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who has been helped by a project funded by Comic Relief.
  • An assembly that has been designed for teachers to deliver in school or for pupils to access from home.
  • Topic maps for key stage 1 and 2, with suggestions for using Ethan’s story as the starting point for inspirational learning. Five activities for each key stage have been designed to help teachers evidence elements of the national curriculum, with particularly strong links to English, citizenship, art, design and technology, PE and maths. Links are also flagged to the PSHE Association programme of study.
  • Quizzes and puzzles on a Red Nose Day theme.

Remote fundraising

We have identified our top 10 ideas for taking fundraising activities online so that you and your pupils stay safe, have fun and still support Comic Relief if you feel able to do so.

  • Dress up: Challenge pupils to get creative and make their own superhero outfit, then get the whole class on a remote call in their finery. Why not run it as a competition and ask pupils to vote for their favourite costume?
  • Super anything-athon: Ask pupils to identify their hidden skills and set themselves a supercharged sponsored challenge. Could they climb the equivalent of Snowdon using their staircase? Run a mini-marathon in the back garden? See how many keepy-uppies they can do in five minutes? Build the world’s biggest card tower? Knit a scarf in a day?
  • Calling all cake crusaders! Switch your bake sale for a cake-decorating competition. Encourage pupils to show off their artistic side and see who can decorate the prettiest cake on a Red Nose Day theme. Share their creative efforts on a video call and vote for the best
  • Test your brainpower: We have all become pros at online quizzes during lockdown. Why not organise one for your class? Use our Red Nose Day quiz for primary schools to help you become an instant quizmaster.
  • Lip sync challenge: Ask pupils to pick their favourite song and show you their star performance.
  • Tell us a joke: Challenge pupils to learn a joke, test their material on their family and then perform it to the rest of the class. Who can raise the loudest laugh?
  • Show us your party piece: Can pupils whistle the national anthem? Do impressions? Sing like Beyoncé?
  • Sponsored silence: In a world of Zoom and constant online access, challenge your pupils to stay quiet for an hour or even a whole morning.
  • Host a virtual party: Organise an online party for your class. Ask them to come dressed up and arrange games and surprises
  • Distanced scavenger hunt: Send pupils scurrying round the house for random objects, from a ruler to a slice of bread.

Stay safe

In the past, much of the money schools raised for Red Nose Day came in the form of cash donations. To stay Covid-safe, we recommend that you use online donation methods instead. It is easy to set up a JustGiving page and QR code (we offer help on our website). Send round your JustGiving link and QR code in advance and ask students to make a donation to take part in activities and competitions on the day. Alternatively, you could use ParentPay to collect donations.


Covid-19 may have turned our lives upside down, but with imagination and energy, events like Red Nose Day can still be fun and meaningful. If you would like further support or ideas for running fundraising activities, do get in touch. Your efforts really will make a difference to the most vulnerable in the UK and around the world during these incredibly tough times.

  • Laura Wilson is schools and community fundraising lead at Comic Relief. Email

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