END of term used to mean the chance to take a board game to school or, if you were lucky, the chance to wear jeans and a T-shirt instead of your uniform.
Then came the Americanisation of “schools out” and a profliferation of prom parties that have become increasingly lavish and brash.
Stretch limos, diamanté studded prom gowns and even helicopter ferry rides (for the grandest of grand entrances) have all become part of prom season. The heady mix, which is everywhere at this time of year, has spawned a lucrative sub-culture.
But a group of primary seven pupils at one Edinburgh school have brought their own refreshing slant to the now ubiquitous grand prom, voting to reject a large bash in exchange for a smaller affair simply enjoying pizza as a gang of chums.
The Sighthill Primary pupils, who will soon make the move to high school, voted decisively to spare their parents the headache of shelling out a considerable amount of cash and will instead settle for a day of bowling (and that pizza) instead.
The 21-4 vote means mums and dads will pay only £2 per child rather than the hundreds of pounds forked out by increasing numbers of parents across Edinburgh, amid a growing trend towards marking the passage from primary to secondary school with a glitzy leaving dance. Sighthill parent council chair Amanda Campbell, 42, whose daughter, Erin, is in P7, said: “I know of parents at other schools who have paid out for limos, kilts and fancy dresses for their kids – it can cost up to £400. It’s one thing the school being able to afford it and the parent council providing some of the funds.
“But if you’re talking about parents having to provide a limo or a kilt just to keep up with everybody else, lots of them just don’t have the finances for that, especially in this economic climate.”
Ms Campbell said Erin and her 24 classmates were “really excited” at the chance of Laserquest, bowling and Pizza Hut.
And she said many P7s at Sighthill had told their class teacher they had no interest in an expensive prom because they saw each other as equals and wanted to make sure everyone could join in before saying goodbye to primary school.
“They just want to go out together and do something that they’ll really enjoy and remember,” she said.
Headteacher Eileen Littlewood said: “It’s all become very Americanised and I don’t know if it’s come from programmes that the children are watching.
“We don’t want parents or children to feel stressed, left out or under pressure and that they have to comply with the expectation and demands from other people.”
You shall go to the ball... in a helicopter
PARENTS today are going to extravagant lengths to celebrate their child’s move to high school.
Limo reservations likely to set mums and dads back nearly £300 have become increasingly commonplace – and that’s before parents consider whether to spend £200 on hiring a gown.
In one particularly extreme case, a parent in East Renfrewshire asked the local council if they could send their child to the prom in a helicopter. It is understood the parent wanted their child to make a big entrance but the idea was dismissed by education bosses.
One parent of a P7 pupil said: “We never had them in our day but I can see how exciting it is. The kids love it.”