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The rise and rise of the school Prom

To talk about the end of school and the Prom.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To talk about the end of school and the Prom.

Preparation and materials

  • You might like to prepare a PowerPoint to illustrate the Prom elements that are covered below.
  • You need a candle for the reflection.
  • Music suggestion: ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba.


  1. I wonder what our upper years are most looking forward to about the end of the school year? Will it be moving on to study new and interesting subjects at A level, will it be going on to college, will it be the end of formal schooling to go on to a job, the end of exams or never having to do certain subjects again?
  2. I guess for some of you it might be, but for the vast majority it will be the School Prom that looms largest in the thoughts about the end of term. Many of you will want it to be the most important night of your lives so far. A chance to dress like a princess and perhaps be with your prince for the evening. Who would want to miss out on the end of year celebrations?
  3. Year 11, 12 and 13 students across the country are planning their very own red carpet treatments at School Prom events in coming weeks. It has to be a night to remember, as for many it’s the last thing you are going to do before you leave, so it needs to special.

    Even while sitting their GCSE, AS or A level examinations, the main focus of some students’ attention may have been the end of term bash. Many of these have now become costly and elaborate affairs, based on the American style events from which they originate. Think of films such as American Pie, Twilight and She’s All That and even Grease.
  4. The Prom night bill for girls can go into hundreds of pounds, after the dress, ‘put-up’ hair-do, fake tan, manicure, nail extensions, shoes, accessories and many other things I’m sure you can think of have been paid for. Just add up in your head how much you think it may be costing your parents. You might be surprised at the result.

    It’s not so expensive for boys – £80 might cover suit hire, a haircut and a corsage for your date. But that doesn’t include transport to the event such as a stretch limousine, other luxury cars or maybe even a fire engine.

    It can all soon add up to be a drain on the average family’s finances.
  5. But, can you do it cheaper and still look as glamorous? There are a number of sites to be found by Googling that give advice about how to keep the costs down. Surely, leaving school is about celebrating the fact that your exams are over, a new chapter of your life is about to start and your main aim is to end the year on a high with all your friends who have made your time at school special? It isn’t about falling into the consumerist trap of who is wearing what, how much everyone has spent and the need to go to great lengths and expense to make sure everything is just perfect.
  6. Perhaps when you ask for another pair of earrings, because those you have bought don’t quite go, or you make a comment about the fact that someone’s dress came from a cut-price store while yours is a designer label, or someone’s dad is bringing her to the Prom because they can’t afford a limo, think about the reasons that the Prom exists in the first place.
  7. The Prom is a celebration for all your hard work and determination during your exams. It is also almost a rite of passage, a stage in your life that shows you are growing up; that one door is closing while another door of opportunity, be it educational or otherwise, is opening.

    Then maybe think about the countries that do not have Proms, where education is a privilege and the costs of your outfit might be able to feed a family for a whole year. Once you have thought about it and considered how lucky you are, go and enjoy yourself!

Time for reflection

Light a candle, and allow space for the students to reflect. Show the PowerPoint images.

As we look forward to our Prom, our leaving, let’s think back over our time here in school.
We give thanks for the good times, the memories that we cherish.
We think about any apologies we need to make before we leave.
And we look forward to the future.

Publication date: July 2010   (Vol.12 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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