Are Proms Pointless?

Issue 26

By Ken James, Headmaster, Red House School

Last month Red House School held its prom. I wasn’t really looking forward to it and have often said – loudly – that I’m not a great fan of proms. They were an American invention and, until very recently, the U.K. had managed to avoid them. The closest the children came to attending one was watching re-runs of American movies set in the 50s. Until I joined Red House, I’d also only worked in schools with sixth forms. Therefore, I’ve never felt the need to host a huge celebration at the end of Year 11.

Alas, proms are here to stay. Children across the country look forward to marking the end of their GCSEs with a pre-party, prom and post-party. Hundreds of pounds are being spent on gowns and hours are being spent in the hairdressers. The children take longer to get ready for the event than they do at the venue. Boys seem to spend less time getting ready; their energy goes into deciding the best mode of transport instead!

But at Red House, the prom really does serve a purpose. All the boys and girls are leaving and heading to numerous establishments for their sixth form years. Many have been at the school together since they were three. The prom marks a milestone in their 13 year friendship and the prom is possibly the last time all the children will be together.

The prom marks a milestone in their 13 year friendship and the prom is possibly the last time all the children will be together.

Ken James, Headmaster, Redhouse School

Ours was a joyous event. The children mixed easily with staff and reminisced about their time at the school. Many staff had also been on a 13 year journey with the children and it was fitting that they should be together at the final function.

Most importantly, the children had fun. Whether it be singing karaoke, dancing or merely watching the dubious dance moves of their teachers, the children mixed easily with colleagues. This can be attributed to two reasons: the strength of the relationship between the children and their teachers and the social skills which have been encouraged in the children.

The relationship between the teachers and the pupils at Red House is second to none. The mutual disillusionment with the new GCSEs has worked to strengthen the relationship between the children and their teachers; they have been in it together. Discipline is also not an issue at school so colleagues can put their energy into helping the children rather than perpetually disciplining them. Small classes too mean the children have a huge amount of individual support; almost a bespoke education.

This individual support and close relationship encourages the children to be independent thinkers with the social skills to articulate their opinions and discuss matters with adults. From presenting assemblies to touring with prospective parents, our role is to turn out well-balanced, confident young people who easily mix with adults and children.

So whilst I’ve never been a great fan of proms before, I enjoyed my first prom at Red House School. It was an excellent way of celebrating the achievements of the children and transitioning them into adult life. And the karaoke was fun too!

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