It wouldn't have happened in my day...

The Sistine Chapel Creation of Adam
The Big Bang

So when and where did it all start, then?

No, not that question!

The really important one about the birth of the school prom!

I really liked my school days, and all the friends I'd met. But we did nothing to mark the end of our time together. Not at the end of the Fifth Year ('old money') nor when we left the Sixth Form. Neither did any other school, from what I recall.

And I've subsequently been involved in education as a 'professional' for nearly 30 years, and I'm also none the wiser. There was certainly no dressing up or hiring of county house hotel venues and limos when I first started teaching. But, some time in the late-90s ‘The Prom’ suddenly appeared from nowhere as a statutory rite of secondary school passage, almost at the same time as going to University became going to 'uni'. I blame Neighbours for that one, by the way.

And perhaps it is overseas influence that explains it. Some popular American teen movie from the period that has prompted the coca-colariastion of formerly naive educational celebration in the same way that, as its often argued by historians and social commentators, US culture has also shaped so many other European practices and past times since the 1950s. After all, the Americans do seem celebrate graduation from kindergarten, don't they!?

Or, perhaps not.

Maybe it's more of a reflection of the heightened significance of school in the life of young people in an increasing complex and confusing world. A personal touch, a coming together as a real rather than virtual or imagined community in an age when at the press of a button we can 'like' something or be a 'friend'.

I therefore like to think that school proms are the celebration of a special journey experienced together.

They certainly were at Park House last week, when it was a privilege to attend two events where group of young - and some older - people came together to share the wonderful memories of a collective journey and to look optimistically towards the future.

The local press captured it beautifully for us, although we won't ultimately need a video to remind us of what it meant to be there...

School Prom

I unashamedly used the end of Toy Story 3 in my Leavers' Assemblies which preceded both of our Proms...

A lot has been written by Psychologists on why it makes so many people cry...



That wasn't my intention For me, it's just a damn good film. And a metaphor for the journey through secondary school which, in these days if not in mine, culminates in the Prom.

Toy Story Clip

You put a random group of young people in a hall together when they are 11, and through their spirit, energy and different and distinctive character together build something lasting and something special. Something that will stand the test of time.

Maybe, after all, it did happen in my day, too...

School Photo