Parents and pupils saddened as Shirebrook school leavers prom is cancelled due to coronavirus

Year 11 leavers from Shirebrook Academy have had their prom cancelled due to Covid-19 regulations – leaving parents hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 7:00 am

It has been a difficult year for students around the country, with schools being closed, exams being cancelled, and, for many finishing A Levels and GCSE’s, an uncertainty surrounding their futures.

Now, the opportunity to celebrate the end of secondary school with a leavers prom has also been taken from year 11’s at Shirebrook Academy in Mansfield, with the school principal saying it would be ‘impossible’ for the event to go ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Stephen Watkinson, a parent of a year 11 student who was one of the ambassadors of the school’s prom committee, said: “Basically, they just put a tweet out that says due to Covid regulations it has been cancelled.

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"They had a prom committee for all of last year and year 11, but obviously due to Covid that stopped in March.

"They did cake bake sales, they did sponsored walks, and they have raised the best part of thousands for the prom.”

The prom was originally supposed to take place in July, but it was postponed until October due to Covid-19.

Some of the 100 students that were expected to attend have taken to social media to communicate their sadness at the cancellation, and Stephen says that it couldn’t have come at a worse time for them, especially after parents invested in outfits for the event.

Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy, has said that Covid regulations make it 'impossible' for the prom to go ahead.

“They are not amused, because they have lost everything else this year, exams, being able to see their friends, all the rest of it – and then to have that put on them about five weeks before it was supposed to happen.

“There’s parents that have gone out and spent hundreds of pounds on dresses, plus they don’t know where the money is going to go that they raised.

"We just don’t know where the money is going to go – is it going to go to next years’ leavers, or can they do something this year for them lot?”

However, one parent is now trying to drum up support for an alternative celebration for the leavers.

Lisa Barnes has raised the idea with parents and students of a winter alternative prom on Facebook, gaining over 80 replies in agreement and support.

Lisa, whose daughter is also a year 11 leaver, said: “Quite a few of us got talking saying that they deserved something, and when we saw the tweet go out, saying that it had been cancelled, we got chatting and that’s why I put the post out asking who would be interested.

"It would need to be somewhere that could hold them all, even if it’s socially distanced, around Christmas time, and it would just give to give them something to look forward to.

“They could still wear their prom dresses and suits, and I have been quite surprised by the interest and response from it.

"I was going to ring round some venues, but the guidance has changed again so it is once again all up in the air.”

Lisa urges any venues that would be able to put on an event in the festive period to get in touch as she believes the year group deserves to be able to ‘say goodbye’.

She added: "I just think 2020 is an awful for them anyway, I think my daughter just wanted something to look forward to so they could just say goodbye to all their teachers, all their friends, something they have not had the chance to do.”

The school have expanded on this announcement, with the principal admitting he feels for what the year 11 leavers have missed out on this year, but that there was ‘no way’ the event could possibly go ahead.

Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy on Common Lane, Shirebrook, said: “We are just following guidance.

“It is impossible for events like that to happen, especially with the restrictions that were further announced yesterday, the venue wouldn’t allow it to happen – we couldn’t have a gathering of that size, about 100 students, so there is just no way to run the event.”

The principal also added that the prom committee had only just started fundraising, and that the bulk of the money available for arranging and putting on the prom comes from the school governors.

"They had only really just started fundraising, so there’s only £138.

"We do subsidise the prom quite significantly anyway, from governors’ funds.

“Because school closed in March, they had only just started doing bits and bobs of the fundraising, such as a football match.

“We have paid £3,000 to give every leaver a free hoodie as a gesture for them missing out on so much; I do feel for the year group, obviously, how much they have missed out on, but there is nothing we can do about it.

"In previous years they have raised quite a bit, but we have tried to cut back on that anyway because we want them concentrating on their learning so we have reduced it anyway, and have been subsidising it through the governors’ fund.

"The £138 has gone into paying for the hoodies as usually the students would buy their own hoodies, but we have bought them for them this year.

"The original prom was in July and we cancelled it and re-booked the venue provisionally for October thinking that things might have changed by then, but its now clear you just can’t run an event like that – we can’t see a time where it will be feasible either.”