Leading article: Not the Proms

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The rest of us may be preparing for the new age of austerity, but this month's Year Six school-leavers look as though they will be the exception. A record number will be celebrating their imminent graduation to "big school" by bopping the dusk hours away at their primary prom. Thanks to Hollywood, DVDs and advertising, the American-style prom has sped down the age-range and taken off – and not just the prom, it appears, but in one case, at least, a prom helicopter to drop the pupils off (until, that is, landing permission was refused). There are clearly some 11-year-olds for whom a silver stretch limo is not nearly impressive enough.

Maybe we should not cavil to see this piece of vintage Americana taking root so rapidly and unquestioningly over here, with all the expense and social competition it entails. Yet particular trepidation might be felt in one quarter. The BBC and the Albert Hall are going to have to look to their laurels. If they don't act soon, there is a real risk that the next generation of school-leavers will regard a prom only as a school-leaving ball with all the trappings, not as a summer concert with standing-room tickets sold on the day. Perhaps they should hire their own branded stretch limos and go down to Year Six to make their case.

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