The school later announced the prom for the year below and parents have said it was a “kick in the teeth” for the year that missed out
The parents of pupils at a school in Blackpool have taken to organising the leavers prom themselves after the end of year celebrations were cancelled due to a lack of paid deposits.
Kelly Sinclair, 43, and Jeanette Burton are two of three parents involved in organising a prom after students at St George’s School on Cherry Tree Road in Blackpool found they would not be celebrating the end of their GCSE’s with a traditional prom. The cancellation, the school have said, was due to a lack in paid deposits and pupil’s expressing that they were “no longer interested.”
Parents of St George’s class of 2022 have consequently made the decision to organise the prom themselves as a ‘f*** off’ to the school and have offered low-income families the lifeline of having their ticket covered following donations from the community. Kelly told LancsLive that the school’s decision to cancel the prom is “shameful”.
Kelly said: “The school has prom every year normally. They didn’t have prom through Covid, neither did any of the schools, this is the first year back obviously that have done their GCSEs after Covid. All the schools were putting prom on for the kids, all the parents were expecting the kids to have a prom.
“In January, we had an email from the school about leavers’ jumpers, the money had to be in for leavers’ jumpers. Then we got an email around the same time stating that they were sorting out the prom. It was already very late because usually they start organising it at the beginning of the (academic) year.
“We got an email asking what we would like to do. Would we like a traditional prom, something in the sports hall or a breakfast, which is a bit weird because you don’t usually get the option anyway.”
Kelly explained that the school then sent out a second email that included a breakdown of the price the prom would cost. She said: “They were really inflated prices, so it was already like the school was trying to put the kids off having a prom.”
She continued: “We then got an email saying the majority of people had voted for a traditional prom and that the payment had to be in the following Monday. So they gave parents six days to pay the deposit for the prom, but during that time the money had to be in for the school leavers’ hoodies.
“A lot of parents can’t afford that,” Kelly added, “and it’s a lot of money for a mum that doesn’t work or needs family tax credit. Its a lot of money to have to pay out.
The school leavers hoodies were priced at £25 per student and the additional prom deposit, required within the same window, cost £20 – meaning parents paying for both would need to fork out £45 all together.
Kelly continued: “Its expensive. They then sent out the email saying prom can’t go ahead because we didn’t get enough numbers in. They didn’t give anybody the extra opportunity or anything, that was that cancelled.”
Kelly added that the pupils were “upset” about the cancellation and during the last day of school, where students expect to have their shirts signed and say their final goodbyes, Kelly claims they were instead “kicked off the premises”.
She added: “They were told if they didn’t get off the premises, the police would be called. So that was that, all the parents were fuming. Then the school organised a breakfast for students, sent an email out, but its by invitation-only, so not all the children were inclusive of that. It’s just despicable really.”
As leavers proms across the county began last week, the Class of 2022 at St George’s missed out. During that time, the school shared a post to their Facebook page telling parents to “save the date” for the prom organised for the year below. “That’s a massive kick in the teeth for the kids,” Kelly added.
In spite of the cancellations, Kelly and two other parents got together and said they wanted to do something about it. The trio have organised a prom within four days and its an event in which the local community have backed them for.
Kelly said: “The local community has been amazing. We’ve had so much donated, even just people donating and buying tickets so we can say, if you can’t afford to come let us know and we can give you a ticket.”
They’ve also had £500 donated from a local business to make sure the prom goes ahead, on top of prom letters, 100 cupcakes, a balloon arch, a banner and even a photographer for the event.
The headteacher of St George’s School, Graham Warnock, said: “We are aware of a recent unaffiliated social media post regarding the Year 11 prom. Whilst we normally ignore social media, we felt it was important to explain the facts and the misinformation being reported.
“Year 11 parents were consulted on the 21st January regarding their opinion of a leavers’ prom. We did not want to consult earlier as the country was still in the midst of a pandemic. We would normally release the date of the prom a year in advance but felt the situation at that time, alongside the rise of the Omicron variant, meant we felt it was not appropriate to make an announcement. Many families faced illness and financial hardship during this time.
“In January, the national picture regarding Covid was clearer – which is when we made the decision to consult parents. Based on our work to poverty proof the event we were mindful of the financial pressures this could place on families, especially due to Covid. Therefore, we listed all the hidden costs of the prom to make parents aware of the commitment. A prom is more than just the cost of the ticket.”
Graham explained that on February 1, parents received a letter explaining that there were 182 pupils in the Academy, and only 76 pupils wanted a prom. He continued: “Despite this, we still decided to run the prom with staff making up any additional expenses so that it would be at no additional cost to families. A deposit was requested but only 47 pupils paid the deposit and the other pupils had expressed they were no longer interested in the prom. This did not make the prom viable.
“Parents and pupils were made aware that the prom would not take place in a letter dated 11th February, and no issues/concerns were brought to the Academy’s attention. Five months later a small number of parents have decided to organise a prom at short notice to families.
“Our Year 11 senior prefects requested the option of a leavers’ hoody. Parents were given an additional month to purchase these. A number of the Academy staff purchased a hoody for those families that were financially struggling.”
The final day of school came on June 30. It was a day Graham says included a leavers’ celebration assembly where they “played music, staff signed shirts and year books and a breakfast was given at no cost to pupils; no pupil was turned away.”
He continued: “As is our tradition, the Year 7s formed a guard of honour and applauded the year 11s as they left the Academy. This leavers’ assembly followed the same format as every other year.
“We have once again provisionally booked a venue for next year and are seeking parental and pupil opinion. Our Pupil Leadership Team and Year 10s have formed a prom committee, and will look to fundraise throughout the year to make this affordable for all. We have announced this now to secure the venue of choice.
“Finally, we would like to thank all of the parents who have emailed and called the academy distancing themselves from the social media posts. They very much appreciate the staff in the Academy who work tirelessly to provide the children with a well-rounded education. This year we have extended the school day, run half-term and Easter school revision sessions, and provided extra tuition every Saturday for almost a year to help our children be the most successful in the country.”
Matt McIver, Chief Operating Officer at Cidari Multi Academy Trust, said: “‘As a Trust with 11 Academies working across diverse communities, inclusivity is at the heart of our ethos. We fully support the democratic approach taken by Mr Warnock and his team back in February to place this decision in the hands of the pupils, parents and carers.
“It was entirely correct that given the increasing burdens on family budgets, those on which it would impact the most decided whether or not it was appropriate for the prom to proceed. With only just over 25% committing, sadly it was unviable. In a time where school budgets are also increasingly stretched, it would be mismanagement of public funds to proceed on these numbers due to the financial liability that would place on the Academy should the event be cancelled.
“Our Trust has been made aware of, and is deeply concerned by intimidatory and threatening behaviour being made directly towards staff at St George’s, and the false, derogatory and misleading statements posted on social media. Whilst we do not normally comment on such matters, given the content, impact and harm that these actions have caused, we feel the need to reassure the St George’s community that we are in the process of working with the police, our legal advisors and other agencies to take measures as deemed appropriate against those individuals responsible.”
- 05:40, 7 JUL 2022
- UPDATED11:59, 7 JUL 2022