By Sally McKeown
Glittery dresses, tiaras, tuxedos and even a limo - the Prom has become a glamorous annual fixture in the school calendar. Whereas once upon a time there was just a leavers’ disco, now it’s bling and razzamatazz all the way. But what about the kids who are not attending school? Do they miss out on this rite of passage which has been imported to the UK from the United States?
Accipio Learning, an online 'school' for secondary school-aged children, has come up with an innovative solution: the Virtual Prom.
Headteacher Eileen Field said, ‘We have about 650 students right now. Many of them have a history of medical, behavioural or educational needs so severe that they cannot learn in a standard classroom. We didn’t want them to miss out on the experience of attending a school prom to celebrate the end of the school year so we organised our own’
On June 5, 40 Year 11 students celebrated the end of their schooling with the Virtual Prom. Each learner designed their own avatar and entered the virtual hall where they could chat, play games, vote for a Prom King and Queen and contribute to an online year book that they keep as a memento of their time at Accipio.
One of the Prom students was Melanie from Swindon in Wiltshire. Melanie has had a number of problems and was not attending school. She now has a home tutor for Maths and English and is studying ICT and Science GCSEs with Accipio Learning. She is also doing a part-time college course in media studies. ‘The Virtual Prom has been a lot of fun and very humorous,’ she said. ‘The only thing I didn't enjoy was not being named Prom Queen. The Prom ended with an animated teachers’ performance where a big foot came down and crushed all the teachers. Every pupil’s dream!’
Jim Knight MP's message to Virtual Prom students (above)
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