A HEARTBROKEN teenage girl with health problems has been barred from her school prom—because she has not attended enough lessons.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma Oxborough arranged her dress and limousine for the glamorous celebration, only to be told that she did not have sufficient “reward stamps”.
Rawmarsh Community School runs the reward scheme as an incentive for good behaviour and attendance.
Pupils opted in at the beginning of the school year if they wanted to go to the big end-of-year bash at Hellaby Hall on July 9.
What do you think of the school's attitude? Should Gemma be allowed to attend the prom? Use the "write a comment" button to post your views.
But Gemma’s attendance record has taken a severe hit over the past 18 months because of hospital appointments and continued health issues.
Mum Jane (44) said: “We paid the £10 deposit back in February and the school knew about all the absences and how they weren’t Gemma’s fault.
“They’ve got the hospital reports and this is my bugbear, because something like this stamp idea should be done on its merits.
“The school has been helpful before,” added Jane, of Haugh Road, Rawmarsh. “They let me send e-mails when Gemma was off, saving us the hassle of ringing up every time.
“But this is just completely unfair. It seems that a child could misbehave and all sorts through the school year, but as long as they get enough stamps, they can go.”
Year 11 student Gemma has struggled to complete a full week of school since the beginning of 2009, owing to various health problems including high blood pressure.
She regularly sees a kidney specialist in Nottingham, and Jane said that the team of nurses at Rotherham General Hospital were upset to hear that her daughter was to miss out.
Pharmacy assistant Jane, who also has a 20-year-old son, Liam, with husband Stephen (45), said: “I’ve even had to take time of work through illness and stress because of all this. It’s anxiety-related.
“Gemma’s right in the middle of her exams and I’m taking her there and back to make sure she’s okay.
“But she’s really upset about the prom. If we had known all those months ago that Gemma wouldn’t be allowed to attend then we wouldn’t have bought her dress or booked the limousine.
“We had even arranged for the limo to leave from our house with some of her friends.”
Collecting stamps is one way the Monkwood Road school promotes positive achievement. This year saw the highest take-up—153 pupils—who wanted to attend prom night.
Associate deputy head Rob Haines said: “This year, we have continued to run a voluntary and successful reward scheme with students who were interested in going to our end-of-year prom.
“Any student who wanted to attend opted in to a scheme where various achievements would lead to reward stamps in a passport. Once a certain number were achieved the student could attend the event.
“What we have done through assemblies and letters is to remind students of the criteria for success and deadlines, with very clear invitations being issued to students who were wanting to go but were struggling with their passport to come and talk to staff.”
He said that Gemma’s case had not come to their attention until after the scheme had ended.
READ MORE: Feast of fun at Children's Book Festival.