FOR MANY parents the financial cost of prom night can be a heavy financial burden.
With recent figures suggesting the average cost for parents is more than £500, Havant Academy has taken steps to ensure all their students will go to the ball.
The school has introduced a new scheme in which people can donate promwear which students can then hire out for £10 – a token fee to cover cleaning costs.
Assistant headteacher, Natasha Pinwill, said: ‘There is one particular shop used by students where the average cost of a dress is £300 or £400. Many parents simply can’t afford that. As a result, we have had students in the past who didn’t attend prom night. We want a situation where we have enough promwear so that none of our students feel they need to forfeit the event.’
Head of Year 7 and 8, Wendi Goodwin, added: ‘I know one boy who had said he wouldn’t go to prom as he would have to wear his school trousers and shirt. He has now identified a nice grey suit and is looking forward to coming along.’
With school’s catchment covering areas of deprivation the new service is vital in ensuring everyone can attend the landmark occasion.
Mrs Pinwill said: ‘Many of our families in the community make use of food banks and the school already subsidise students in many different ways. The promwear service is an extension of this support.’
Parent Rebecca Clark said: ‘I have got one daughter in Year 10 and two twin girls who are going into Year 10. This is a brilliant scheme –for me it is a godsend. The cost of dresses can be up to £400, which over the next couple of years would have made it really difficult for me to afford. I have a number of tiaras and hair clips which I am going to donate.’
The scheme also looks set to be a big hit with students.
One female student, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Having the school support me in this way, means so much. It means I get to go to prom with my friends and end my senior school career in the same way as everyone else - which is a massive thing for me. Having the school loan me the entire outfit takes a massive financial pressure off myself and my family. If it wasn’t for school I would not be able to attend prom.’
Year 11 student, Alexia Davies, 15, added: ‘I have got my own dress, which cost £240, but I know some dresses were more than £500. For some students to pay that for a dress and then to wear it once would be too expensive. I think it is a really good idea and when I am finished with my dress I would like to donate it back to the scheme.’
In addition to the 52 dresses and 12 suits already donated, pupils are provided with footwear and hair accessories.
Key worker, Michelle Smith, has led the way in collecting donations for the scheme.
‘We have already smashed our initial target of 20 dresses,’ she said. ‘If anyone would like to donate a suit or an old prom or bridesmaid dress then we would urge them to contact the school.’
The prom is on July 4 at the Newton House Hotel on Hayling Island.