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Don't dance around the subject - prom starts too young

At last, some sensible views are being expressed about the over-the-top prom situation that schools find themselves in ("What message does prom for 11-year-olds give out?", Professional, 3 July).

As a governor for more than 20 years at both key stages 2 and 4, and with seven grandchildren aged between 2 and 17, I have found the Americanised prom idea escalating out of control. There is too much peer pressure, with young people aged 11 and even 6 arriving made up as if they are brides or dolls. Just because the Americans do it that's no reason for us to adopt it over here.

My recommendation is to leave prom until age 16 at the earliest - that is far more "age appropriate" and will also spare parents unnecessary expense. Let's preserve some innocence for children, stop being a cash cow for retailers of make up, evening gowns, limousine hire and so on, and let's be brave and adult enough to stand our ground as teachers, headteachers, governors, parents and grandparents, and call a halt to this new "tradition".

Adolescence is hard enough when it comes naturally without it being encouraged far too early by retailers and condoned by far too many schools. As the saying goes, just say no, and for goodness' sake, governors, step up and stand behind your headteacher and school if they need support.

Jackie Payne

Governor of a school in Leicestershire

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