School leavers splash £400 on US-style prom nights

IT IS a rite of passage for pupils leaving school that is as American as Apple pie and baseball.

But now, new research has shown that school proms - formal dances to mark the end of high school - are catching on in Scotland, with youngsters splashing out an average of 400 each and putting their own Celtic twist on the event.

More than 90 per cent of Scots secondary schools are now holding proms, the Stirling University study found.

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More than a third of Scottish secondaries responded to questionnaires sent out by Dr Julie Tinson of Stirling University and Dr Pete Nuttall of Bath University.

Dr Tinson said: "Scottish school leavers have adopted the glamour of American-style proms - hiring limos and buying expensive outfits to wear - but have rejected many other elements."

The researchers found Scottish pupils are keen to have an event that reflects their own heritage by putting their own "kilt" on the events and rejecting the American standards of prom kings, queens and corsages in favour of Scottish music and tartan.

One youngster said in the survey: "Our prom should be more Scottish, with Scottish music, kilts, as this is the country we are from."

Pupils also distanced themselves from what they described as "tacky", "pretentious", "fake" or "contrived" aspects, popular in the US.

The academics also investigated the development of new skills and confidence in teenagers who organised a prom.

Dr Tinson added: "These consumer and personal skills clearly prepare adolescents not only for negotiating adulthood (eg: work, family, a career] but for individual and group consumption situations."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parent Teacher Council said: "It's great that they are putting their own Scottish stamp on it and not just doing what the Americans do. I know my three boys had proms and enjoyed them.

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"Although they did hire a limo, they also wore kilts and had a mix of music with Scottish country dancing.

"The boys clubbed together with their friends to hire the limo so it wasn't too expensive."

However, she warned against allowing the events to become competitive.

"We have to be sensible and not make proms into a competition of who has the best dress or kilt or who has the pinkest limousine," she said.

Only 10 schools out of the 125 which responded did not hold a prom.

Of those that did so, 90 per cent of them hired a venue outside the school for the big occasion.