The Rise of School Proms in the UK

A little over a decade ago school proms were unheard of in the UK but now 85% of schools are holding such an event and they are becoming very extravagant affairs. At my School, the end of the summer term didn’t even involve a disco or party. We were merely shown the door and left the building, PE kit in hand, to enjoy the extended break. Now students in years 11 and 13 have major celebrations to enjoy and it is costing their parents a small fortune!



The arrival and subsequent explosion in school proms was almost certainly due to the influence of popular American TV shows. Proms have been a feature of the school year in the United States for decades and where America goes we will surely follow. The image of posh frocks and limousines is an attractive one and so it is little surprise that the concept quickly took hold over here. Proms are now big business and undoubtedly here to stay.

The Cost

The average spend on prom is now approaching £250 for outfits, accessories and transport and the cost is growing year on year as the vents become an ever more significant occasion for the youngsters. One in ten students are already spending over £500 and some a great deal more than that. Parents will soon be in a situation where they will be saving for proms like they do for weddings and one wonders where it will all stop! The boys need formal attire for the big night with many demanding unusual and extravagant transport to the venues and the girls want beautiful prom dresses for the big night and a raft of accessories to go with them. The expenditure doesn’t stop there either as make-up and hair is often done professionally and many students even grab themselves a spray tan.


The costs may be bad news for parents but has been decidedly good news for the many suppliers involved. Prom dresses, accessories and men’s formal wear is becoming the saviour of wedding suppliers who have been suffering in a declining market. Wedding car companies are doing great business too and it is boom time for anyone in the beauty industry. Balloon suppliers, DJ’s and photographers are all getting in on the act and venues are grabbing extra events. Several new businesses have appeared specialising in arranging the proms and there are numerous websites dedicated to the subject. School proms are now worth over £80 million in the UK and figure is rising all the time.


Proms are now such a significant event that many students start planning years in advance. Girls don’t only grow up dreaming of their wedding dress anymore they are musing over their prom gown too. Work on the events themselves commences at the beginning of the school year. Most establishments elect a prom committee to organise the occasion in conjunction with the teachers and efforts are on-going for months. Prom is the highlight of the year and I wish I had had the chance to go!


Article By Sally Stacey

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