School asks for prom donations as pupils struggle

Betsan, Erin and Kieran stood in front of donated prom dresses.
Betsan, Erin and Kieran are all in year 11 and are preparing for their end of year prom [BBC]

A secondary school is asking the local community to help pupils go to the prom.

With high prices continuing to impact families, Ysgol Brynrefail in Llanrug, Gwynedd, has sent a request out to parents for any prom suits or dresses that they can donate or loan out to those unable to afford their own.

The school has already tried to keep costs low by hosting the event in a local hotel and cutting down on travel costs.

They have also paid for half the price of a ticket – which is £23 – for students who receive free school meals.

Jennifer Hughes, head of years 10 and 11 at the school, and organiser of the prom, said: "A couple of students have come to us and said they simply can't afford to come because of the costs.

"It's terribly sad knowing that's the reason.

"You hope that everyone is looking forward to prom. So, we’ve spoken to them to see if we can help."

Jennifer Hughes stood in her classroom
Jennifer Hughes is the prom organiser [BBC]

Over the past few years, proms have become increasingly popular as a way for pupils to celebrate finishing their GCSEs and A Levels.

For some, the American practice has become the highlight of the year.

"This prom is really important to a lot of people," said Kieran, a year 11 pupil at the school.

"Everyone has been here with each other for at least five years, and some even longer than that.

"It’s important for us to come together and celebrate with each other.

"But there's a lot of pressure to impress - and a suit costs at least £150."

His classmate Betsan added: "Lots of pictures are bound to be posted (on social media) – so we want to look our best.

"That means there’s pressure to buy a new dress, get our nails done and pay for lashes."

Kieran stood in a hallway in school uniform and then in a suit
Kieran in his school uniform and modeling one of the suits donated to the school [BBC]

This year, school staff sent a message to parents asking them to donate any suitable clothing.

They are now trying to spread that message to the wider community.

Ms Hughes said many students had told her they were concerned about cost.

"The last thing we want is to put pressure on anyone or make them worry about how they look, or how they’re going to pay to go," she added.

three of the dresses available to pupils struggling to go to the prom
Three of the dresses available to pupils who are struggling with the cost of going to prom [BBC]

According to Erin, a year 11 pupil, how you look at your prom is not what matters.

“It's important to remember that looking your best isn't the main reason for going," she said.

"It's only one day, and the prom is more about socialising than what you look like.

The Welsh government said it is important that all schools consider the financial implications of any activity and give support to those who need it.

It added that this is a matter for individual schools.