Stowmarket teenager told she can’t go to prom after missing school due to health reasons
- Credit: AMBER GRENVILLE-SMITH
A poorly teenager from Stowmarket has been left devastated after she was denied a ticket to her school prom for missing too much teaching time.
Saffron, 16, who suffers from ME and mutiple mental health problems, was told by Stowmarket High School that she was not allowed to attend the dance after missing eight months of school.
The school said it cannot comment on individual cases, but clarified that the issue centred around unauthorised absences, and not Saffron’s illnesses.
Saffron’s mother, Amber Grenville-Smith, 41, said the news had deeply upset her daughter, who has had to take eight months off while battling chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Ms Grenville-Smith, who also suffers from ME, said the school had informed her that Saffron would be banned from her prom due to the fact that she had missed too much teaching time. It is a policy that is applied equally to all students who record a significant number of unauthorised absences.
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Initially, Saffron didn’t think she would be well enough to attend. However, after her new medication started to take effect in the weeks running up to the prom, she decided to book a ticket.
After a lengthy email exchange with the school, Ms Grenville-Smith claims she was invited to a meeting with the assistant head teacher, who told her that Saffron would have to miss the prom due to unauthorised absences.
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After further correspondence with Saffron’s child psychiatrist, Ms Grenville-Smith claims the school did not accept the reasons for her daughter’s absence – and the decision was upheld.
She said she couldn’t understand why Saffron has been denied a ticket to her prom: “Sometimes she can’t get out of bed – if she can’t get out of bed, how can she go to school?
“I could understand if Saffron was a badly behaved student, but Saffron has never been badly behaved.”
A spokesperson for Stowmarket High said: “We cannot comment on any individual cases but we have been trying to engage with the family and the issue doesn’t centre around illnesses, it centres around unauthorised absences.”
Over 45,000 people have signed an online petition to express their outrage at the news, with many lobbying the school to change its position.
Despite everything that has happened, Saffron is still intending on going to her prom tonight, albeit without a ticket.
Ms Grenville-Smith said: “Prom is a big thing – all her friends are talking about it. Being able to interact with the kids is important for her.”
The school said staff would not turn Saffron away if she were to turn up at the prom.