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Leavers are jiving to the two Rs rock 'n' roll

they have come through six years of literacy and numeracy hours and one year of intensive exam preparation. And now Year 6 pupils are celebrating. Across the country, primaries are developing increasingly new and unusual ways to mark the achievements of their 11-year-olds. Pupils at St Mary's primary at Swanley in Kent will be celebrating at a 1950s-themed prom, complete with rock 'n' roll band, jiving competition and prom king and queen.

Simon Meredith, deputy head and prom organiser, has already picked out his rockabilly shirt and creeper shoes for the event.

"Going to secondary is a big move for the children," he said. "Often they're split up from their friends. And they've been through tests this year. A disco in the church hall didn't seem quite enough. They deserve a better send-off."

The theme was chosen for its link to Year 6 history lessons. Pupils have spent the term studying the events, fashions and music of the 1950s. Many pupils have recruited parents and friends to help them make 1950s-style outfits. The school has provided dancing lessons to prepare for a jive contest.

Grace Marsden, 11, whose grandmother is running up a purple A-line dress on her sewing machine, said: "I love dancing. But the boys were all moaning about holding girls' hands. I didn't mind. It doesn't mean anything."

Pupils have been paired up, so they all have "dates" for the evening. Where the numbers do not split evenly, two girls have been allocated to one boy. "The boys quite like that," said Mr Meredith. "It doubles their chance of winning the jive competition."

Marcus Di Libero, 11, was relieved that partner preferences were submitted in writing. "It would be difficult to ask a girl face-to-face," he said. "Your friends would all be laughing."

At Icknield primary in Sawston, Cambridgeshire, Year 6 pupils have been working with the London theatre group Company of Angels to create a play, entitled 25 Farewells, about leaving school.

Lauren Thompson, 11, said: "It's been loads of fun. I'm in a scene where we talk about needing both freedom and protection. The thing I'll miss most about primary is knowing all the teachers and the younger children, but I'm looking forward to making new friends and doing five lessons a day."

At Lewes in East Sussex each year, a leavers' parade through the town involves pupils from 20 schools in the area.

Kate Milner-Gulland, the Year 6 teacher at Wallands primary, said: "The theme this year is music. Some children are going as musical instruments, some as pop singers, and we're doing Bollywood. Children look forward to the leavers' parade. It is an amazing atmosphere the High Street comes to a halt.

"There are parents, brothers, sisters. Everyone gets involved. It is very emotional."

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