You can't come to the prom, school tells girl
A CITY school has defended its decision not to let one of its pupils attend the end-of-year prom.
Kelly Land, from Wonford, said she has been "dreaming" about going to the Year 11 Prom at Isca College of Media Arts, since she started at the school five years ago.
The 16-year-old has spent around £150 on her outfit, including a dress, shoes and tiara and said she is "upset and angry" at the decision.
Simon Weir, deputy headteacher, said every school has a "passport-to-the-prom system" whereby managers set certain targets for pupils to meet.
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He said Isca's criteria is based on attendance and punctuality and students who fell below 85 per cent are not allowed to go to the prom unless there are "extenuating" circumstances.
The teenager admitted that she had a below-average attendance record of 78.1 per cent – but claimed this was primarily because she was off sick with a cough after the Easter holiday so did not have the opportunity to make up the time.
"My mum rang the school up every day to explain why I wasn't in," she said.
"I'm really upset about it and feel angry. I've bought my whole outfit.
"It's the school prom – I've been dreaming about it since I was in Year 7.
"I don't think it should be about attendance but behaviour which I've tried really hard at."
Kelly's mum Lorraine, 45, also feels her daughter has been treated unfairly.
"Every day Kelly couldn't go to school I rang in and offered to write a note," she said.
"So I was doing my bit, but I was told it was fine and she'd still be able to go to the prom.
"My daughter was genuinely unwell, I wouldn't keep her off for nothing.
"Kelly is so disappointed, she was really looking forward to it. We feel it's important that she goes and I feel very sad for her.
"It seems very unfair because I was told she would still be able to go until recently."
Mr Weir said the rule is in place to encourage pupils to achieve certain standards which are "reasonable" with "simple expectations" and to make exceptions for students without "extenuating" circumstances would be unfair on the pupils who do meet the targets.
"No student is ever banned from going to the prom," he said. "But we have a system in place where we ask students to meet certain standards.
"Initially we set the target of 90 per cent attendance, which is still below the national and school average, and less than 20 lates, over a 14-week period from January to Easter.
"This is the intense period before their exams and we feel this short amount of time is generous.
"When we got to Easter there were a number of students who just missed the target.
"Those within five per cent of the target were then given an opportunity to improve their attendance or punctuality, over a set period of time. We then decided to roll it back to 85 per cent.
"Kelly's attendance record equates to her missing 1.5 days every 10 days.
"We feel we have been generous with the standards we've set and we take into account individual or extenuating circumstances."
Mr Weir said Kelly received regular phone calls from the school's attendance officer with all students regularly being made aware of attendance figures.
"It's a disaster for Kelly," he added. "And we recognise how hard she has worked in trying to improve her attendance and we sympathise with her anguish.
"But we feel in Kelly's case it is not appropriate to change the rules.
"We are very much an inclusive school and when you set up a system with reasonable targets and simple expectations, it's unfair on the other students to break the rules.
"These decisions are not taken lightly."