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How to police the school prom

We have reached that time of year when every limo driver, dress fitter and two-star hotel manager walks around with a giant grin on their face, while every teacher wears a furrowed brow of concern. That's right, it’s school prom season.

The school prom is that moment when 16 year olds make a play at being adults and the vast majority of them succeed: they are rowdy, drink too much, look awkward in formal wear and embarrass themselves in public.

Teachers have to try and thwart this success. The perfect prom for a teacher – at least in theory – is one where the students remain children. They do not drink alcohol, smoke, engage in public displays of affection or do anything that contravenes the school rules. Yes, the school may be very far away – both mentally and physically – but parents and the school expect compliance.

So how do you go about policing a school prom? In the 20 June issue of TES, Caroline Ross attempts to give you the answer. Caroline is a veteran officer on the prom beat, which includes both the before-event preparation and the night itself.

“In the run-up, girls debate the depth of a spray tan; orange or more orange?” she reveals. “Other key questions are: should they go with shellac, gel or acrylic? Who will style their hair? How big should their dress be? I have seen some humdingers in my time, such as the gigantic pink confection that wedged itself in a doorway.”

She adds that the preparation is now not all about getting a date for prom. Rather, the focus these days is on getting the right car to transport your “pack”.

“The car ‘maketh’ the prom,” she explains. “Apparently it is social suicide to arrive in a white limo, however a black limo is up there in the social stratosphere. Who knew?”

At this early stage, it is best to keep suggestions to a minimum; the students will ignore you anyway. Instead, stick to re-enforcing that the rules of the school still apply, even in the darkest corners of hired hotels.

And on the night itself? Caroline lists a number of things that can be done to maintain order, with methods that include torches, water and an action plan for any hipster teacher that feels the music and wishes to showcase their dance skills (pick up a copy of TES for her complete guide).

Of course, you won't be able to guard against every event, no matter how prepared you are. But this guide should help you nip the most obvious problems in the bud before they result in phone calls to parents, illness or worse still a trip to A&E. 

Read the full story in the 20 June edition of TES on your tablet or phone by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up in all good newsagents.

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