Is it illegal to do direct sales (as in approach parents of students) outside of school gates and market ones tuition business?

I got warned by the members of staff at the school to leave the area or they will call the police. I asked if it was illegal and they said no but said "it was inappropriate"

Should I ignore this and carry on with the sales (I even got 2 customers so it can't be that bad)?

  • 2
    Laws about street hawking or similar activities vary around the world, so which jurisdiction (country, province, state, principality etc) are you in?
    – user35069
    Jun 16, 2021 at 15:30
  • im in the united kingdom, england
    – Aujarmani
    Jun 16, 2021 at 15:34
  • 1
    Whether or not it's illegal, it's clearly unwelcome. Isn't that enough? Jun 17, 2021 at 8:34
  • 1
    unwelcome by people who aren't interested but welcome for those that are right?
    – Aujarmani
    Jun 17, 2021 at 8:38
  • 3
    Illegal or not, you do not want the police called on you for acting suspiciously outside a school. Jun 17, 2021 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


The staff members seem to have it right on both counts - I've not found anything suggesting direct sales are per se illegal : at least, not in absence of other legal orders or bylaws (not directly comparable, but this might be relevant or entertaining, and suggests additional action would be required to prevent selling outside, or close to, schools).

But they also seem to have it right on the other count, and it looks like you were aware of this when you picked the "harassment" tag at first posting (unless you thought they were harassing you, which they're not as they would have no interest in you if you went away). Since the staff at the school have asked you to move on, going back would give grounds for seeking a formal injunction which, if breached, could result in criminal prosecution, and may have direct criminal consequences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

[Side note : If you'd been looking at (1A) (c) (i) and thinking the school staff had been doing that, it would be worth considering which law you believe entitles you to conduct marketing outside school gates. It's only an entitlement if it's recognised in law.]

You'll probably correctly argue that harassment would only be a legitimate complaint if it led to someone feeling "distressed" or "threatened" (also "humiliated", but I don't think that would be as relevant here). Since courts are likely to apply a "reasonable person" assessment, it's worth considering why someone might feel distressed or threatened : for teachers and many parents who saw someone waiting outside a school and asking for an opportunity to spend time (possibly unsupervised) with children, their first thought is not going to be "oh look, a tutor", and I don't believe any parent would want their child to attend a school whose staff took that explanation at face value. This is why the school staff suggested it was inappropriate.

In response to your comment above, the idea that some people may not have felt distressed or threatened is unlikely to be an effective defence if others did.

But until a complaint is made or an injunction sought, it looks like there is nothing definitive that would prevent you marketing your tutoring business by becoming known as "that bloke who was reported to the police for hanging around outside the school gates". This is in no way legal advice, but it appears that as things currently stand you're free to explore the effectiveness of this marketing strategy.

[Note : It's occurred to me that you might be a woman, that fewer people might feel threatened, and that this might have made the apparent problem less obvious. Legally and practically there should be no difference, but let me know if I should correct the terminology or go gender neutral.]

  • So what I get from all this is that I should carry on but probably use a female instead of myself or perhaps take my mum with me.
    – Aujarmani
    Jun 18, 2021 at 13:32
  • I tried to stick to legal factors, and gender doesn't make a difference there - even if it's less obvious what the problem is, it's still a problem. The school will report you to the police, because who'd want to take the risk you were doing what you said? At that point you're unlikely to be prosecuted for anything, but the moment there's an injunction that all changes. Jun 18, 2021 at 15:49

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