Big dresses, huge cars, smart suits and lots of fun ... What exactly is a school prom and how is it taking over from the school disco?

Proms are big news in Britain these days. A school prom is a formal party to celebrate an important date at school such as the end of secondary school or after completing school exams in Year 11 (aged 1516) and in Year 13 (aged 1718). Some pupils also have a school prom when they finish primary school. A secondary school prom often involves a big party, big dresses and huge cars.

Prom parties

Proms are held in June or July, around the end of exam time or the end of term. The idea is to have fun with your school friends and celebrate your time and achievements at school. Some schools hold a luxury party in a five-star hotel. Others have a more basic dinner in the school hall. The school can organise the prom or they can pay a professional organisation to arrange it. A prom organiser provides everything for the special event including the party location, balloons, food, music, cars and clothes.

Clothes and beauty

Young people like to dress up for their prom. Many teenagers wear school uniform in the UK but on prom night lots of girls swap their uniform for an elegant evening dress and high heels. Boys that are usually only seen in jeans and trainers when not at school dress up in a suit with a tie and smart shoes.

The right hairstyle and make-up are important too. Some beauty salons offer a special ‘prom deal’ which includes hair, make-up, eyelashes, nails and a spray tan. A tan is fashionable with both boys and girls.


Arriving at your prom by chauffeur-driven limousine is very popular! Other young people like to travel by truck or in large 4x4 vehicles. The party can start on the way to the dinner or dance. Part of the fun for some prom-goers is to drive around town in their best clothes and make sure that everyone sees them.

Two 16-year-old girls with a sense of humour arrived at their school prom in Somerset both dressed as Barbie. Did they arrive in a limo? No, they travelled in a more original style: their mothers made each girl a life-sized Barbie box and the friends arrived at the prom party in their boxes on the back of a trailer!


The school prom is big business. According to a recent newspaper report the average prom costs parents over £200 per teenager. Many pay much, much more. The cost can include a ticket for the prom party (which is often a three-course dinner followed by dancing) as well as new clothes, shoes, a visit to the hairdressers, a spray tan and probably car hire.

Not all families have money to spend on their teenager’s prom of course. How do less wealthy pupils find a way to look good at the school prom? Some teenagers work part-time to cover their prom expenses. Popular jobs include babysitting, shop work and working as a waiter or waitress.

An American tradition

Not long ago most British schools didn’t have school proms. They probably had a simple school disco at the end of term. Now, more than 85 per cent of schools in Britain have a prom. However, the modern British school prom is not popular with some parents of teenagers. Many adults see the prom as an import from the USA. They say that American TV programmes and films such as ‘High School Musical’ have a big influence on their kids.


Do you have a disco, party or prom at your school? What do you do to celebrate finishing school?


Arivelde's picture
Arivelde 11 June, 2021 - 15:01

I don't think so, not at my school at least. Other schools have, and it is a big thing sometimes, very expencive too, sometimes too much. Schools that doesn't have a big prom, or any prom at all, make a party, big or not, sometimes just a formal "farewell".

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Youjiro's picture
Youjiro 25 February, 2019 - 16:44

I guess Prom time and disco is only English country.I have never Prom or disco with classmate .I watched glee on the amazon prime last summer.My Prom image is from glee.They dress up colorful dress ,were high heels,singing a song.What surprise of this article is 200 pound cost.I guess it is biggest party in school life.Although I don't have Prom time ,I really interested in this party .

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barbiedoll10's picture
barbiedoll10 10 April, 2016 - 12:32

I finiished primary school last year and we had prom. It was great, high heels, big dresses, make-up, hot guys :) I cant wait my biiig prom for finishing the high school :)

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HadiaSABAH's picture
HadiaSABAH 28 December, 2015 - 14:35

I'm in eighth grade and although we don't have proms or disco parties, we do have normal plain parties which are pretty fun! We play awesome games and enjoy each other's company. We girls and boys,both talk about the funtimes we had through out the whole year and above all, we have a pretty cool day!

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Niluh's picture
Niluh 16 July, 2014 - 15:55

No, we don't have a prom night, disco or anything similar like those. In the final year of school, we just have farewell party, pupils mainly dress up with traditional outfit and come to the party with their parents.

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Bosnianchild's picture
Bosnianchild 15 July, 2014 - 12:58

Do you have a disco, party or prom at your school? What do you do to celebrate finishing school?

Well, we celebrate it. We have two schools; primary and secondary. Primary lasts eight years(sometimes nine) and secondary lasts four years. When we finish secondary school we go to collage.
We finish primary school with fourteen years and then we aren't ready for big parties. We have a little party and we dance and eat. In main streen traffic is stopped and we walk.. Then, we go in hotel and have party 9 hours..
But, when we finish secondary we have big party.

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rrai071's picture
rrai071 17 April, 2014 - 14:26

Hi, I am planning to buy a prom dress from a website called Vogue Couture. Has anyone tried them before. I am not sure whether to trust this website. Can anyone help me out with this. Thanks in advance.

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Alita's picture
Alita 25 November, 2013 - 23:10

wht we do is to organice a ceremony and a party whe we finish highschool and its allways very emotive. Are the students who take care of everything, the organisation, the dinner, the dj, everything. And that special nigth we all dress as best posible, girls use dresses ♥

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hana13's picture
hana13 30 October, 2013 - 11:31

I have not had my prom, I am the eighth grade. I think it's beautiful, it marks the end of our school. I love prom in English, they are large and fun.In Montenegro,Rozaye prom are not fun,they are boring,they walk to the main square after going to the restaurant with their professors, eat and dance.

Hi!!! :)

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Harabeli Supersweet's picture
Harabeli Supersweet 26 October, 2013 - 11:51

In my country we have a prom when we finish primary school and a prom when we finish high school. I didn't go to the prom when I finished the 9th grade, because I didn't have any friend and I wouldn't feel good. I'll finish high school next year, but I don't know if I'll go to the prom. I'll see the situation and I'll go if I have friends and if the place is good.

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Anna_Drew's picture
Anna_Drew 6 October, 2013 - 19:48

I had a little prom the last year of middle school.... was AMAZING!! We enjoyed it a lot and we had a lot of fun. Now, at the high school (i'm attending the second year) we have a party twice a year, one for Christmas and the other the last day of school!!! We love it! We dance, play, listen to music, sing, take photos and videos and we have a lot of fun!!!!!!!!

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iamkneesaa11's picture
iamkneesaa11 1 October, 2013 - 15:37

I've never been to a prom night before. At my school, prom is not allowed. I go to a somewhat like a secular school and my school believes prom is a way of indecency. So I am really envious of your stories guys! I wish I could go to a prom and enjoy! :(

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Leia's picture
Leia 10 September, 2013 - 15:37

In our country, I think our school or others don't have prom. I just envy you! It looks very funny. I want to enjoy that prom too.
However, our school have a event which hold at the end of the year. At that event, we hold popsong competition and student performance something on the stage.

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justcricketforme's picture
justcricketforme 4 September, 2013 - 13:59

We have a big ceremony, party and a bonfire night at the finish of school years for our senoirs who have done A levels. It really is awesome! Me and my freinds were in the broadcasting group and it was a real honour announcing stuff infront or our senoirs. It was fun.

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learningenglish282's picture
learningenglish282 29 August, 2013 - 14:47

I have never been to a prom :,( i have a cousin living in Canada, she showed me some photos of her school prom and i can see how fun, interesting and exciting a prom is. I wish i could go to one in a near future :D

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alisia_ledia's picture
alisia_ledia 21 August, 2013 - 13:59

Guysss ...u have no idea what wonderful proms are held here in Albania ...
Well a prom night is very important for everyone and everyone must enjoy it ......

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Toma English's picture
Toma English 31 July, 2013 - 16:25

No we don't have a celebration at all :(
I think collages make a celebration when students graduate :D

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Tricia's picture
Tricia 18 July, 2013 - 14:36

No,I don't...:(
I wish I had a party!!!!!!
In my school, all ceremony which is like graduation celemony is hold solemnly.

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Irena's picture
Irena 22 June, 2013 - 18:31

Oh yes,the prom.It was unforgetable.I had a lot of fun,and it didn't cost me as much as I thought.It was very beautifull night.The only thing I didn't like was the music,but it's about taste,some people love rock,some folk and so on.I am 14 years old and I just finished my primary education,and to be honest,I'm glad because of that.I won't miss that school very much.In my country,almost every school celebrate the prom night,but we mustn't celebrate it in hotels and cafes(it was forbiden from last year)but the place is less important than a good company. :)

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farahmazin's picture
farahmazin 19 June, 2013 - 01:04

i am from baghdad but i live in jordan in baghdad we don't make a prom because of the war and people don't like it but in jordan they hold a prom and they make the prom in 5 stars hotel like four seasons that in luxury school but in poor school they don't make a prom all they want is to graduate and enter the university but in my opinion if i graduate after 2 years i will make a party in my house if my marks were good :)

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zuzzzu54's picture
zuzzzu54 15 June, 2013 - 19:31

I have this big party to celebrate finishing school and I was very happy because I spent more time with my friends

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