Angry parents of pupils at Sidmouth College claim their children are being unfairly excluded from the Year 11 prom at the end of this month.

A small number of pupils have been told they are not allowed to attend because they have not accumulated enough ‘praise points’. These are awarded by staff to reward positive behaviour, under the college’s Passport to the Prom scheme, and pupils can keep track of their score throughout the school year.

Pupils need 150 points to earn an invitation to the prom, and some have been excluded for being only a few points short. Their parents think the exclusion will lead to their children being labelled as ‘bad’, with people believing they were banned from the prom for being troublemakers.

They say the school prom is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for pupils and should be an inclusive event.

One parent who contacted the Herald, Becky Lovett, said the exclusion had been very upsetting for her daughter Frankie.

She said: “This has caused emotional harm and it is not kind and inclusive to these children banned from the prom.

“I have been asked by lots of people ‘what has Frankie done wrong?’

“The notion that you have to be invited to the prom is discriminatory and favouritism.”

Mr and Mrs Lovett met with the college principal Sarah Parsons on Monday (June 12) to discuss her concerns and question whether the praise points were being awarded correctly. She said she was told her daughter had in fact earned the necessary 150 praise points, but ‘did not engage to collect them’.

Mrs Lovett told the Herald: “The system is flawed.”

She and other parents feel that the college prom is being used as a bargaining tool to control the pupils’ behaviour throughout the school year.

Pupils are given praise points in five categories: being ready to learn, enabling others to learn, treating the environment and others with respect, working to the best of their ability and fulfilling their responsibilities.

In a statement given to the Herald, Mrs Parsons said: “As a College we want to ensure that the prom is accessible to all students, whilst also encouraging them to engage with College expectations during this important final year. This is what our Passport to the Prom approach, which has been in place for over 10 years, seeks to support. To ensure our approach is as transparent as possible we always communicate to parents and students from the beginning of Year 11 and at regular intervals throughout the year.”