Hundreds of thousands of disappointed students will be receiving apologetic messages from their schools this week, confirming that the end-of-school prom has had to be cancelled, or at best postponed, because of the government’s decision to prolong restrictions on social gatherings.
But there is a way of still staging that ball just as originally planned – and with an additional centrepiece attraction.
All that’s needed is for two teachers to get married there that evening. Then the prom can be called a “wedding” and the night becomes an even more joyful grand finale for all concerned. (Well, for all but two, anyway.)
It just needs a couple of willing colleagues to be prepared to step up to the plate for the evening and to do the decent thing for the school.
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It’s not a big ask, really. Many staff would be planning to go along to help supervise the event, anyway. Being one of the married couple surely has to be a far better gig there than repeatedly checking out the toilets for drinking, smoking and vomiting?
And what could bring a bigger smile to everyone else’s faces than for Rob in maths, say, to be seen taking the plunge with Cathy over in science? How lovely to celebrate the special day with a couple of hundred students.
Many of us may already have a couple of staff in mind for the role: two who appear to be hitting it off quite well with each other anyway. The children will certainly have a couple of names in mind, in the way that they always do. Staff just need to be seen to be sharing a lift into school, or the same classroom or break duty, for the rumours to begin.
So if students discover, on prom night, that some of that idle gossip and speculation appears to have been gloriously true, it would make for the absolutely perfect end to their time at school together – the icing on that multi-tiered cake.
Yet another commitment teachers are expected to take on board
Some may complain that putting pressure on staff like this is another step too far: “Yet another commitment teachers are being expected to take on board.”
But, come on, agreeing to get hitched to a colleague is not that big a deal. We’ve allowed far worse into our lives and homes this year. We are now all stuck for life to the colourful but deceitful ways of Google Classroom or to the slick but equally slithery Microsoft Teams, till death do us part. No new partner in our life can be worse than either of them, surely?
Equally, being in a rather cold marriage is surely nothing compared to that relentless icy breeze we had to endure in our classrooms from January through to March.
And what partner could possibly treat us and cheat on us any worse than the Department for Education and the exam boards this year, in casually expecting us to look after all the children’s exam grades without offering us any maintenance payments whatsoever?
Of course, the families of the happy couple will obviously need to be brought on board, but persuading them shouldn’t be too difficult in these unique and bizarre times. “Prom weddings are becoming the new normal,” we’ll assure them.
Stephen Petty is head of humanities at Lord Williams’s School in Thame, Oxfordshire