FOR months I’ve been dreading my eldest daughter’s school prom.

Not the event itself, but the financial implications. The dress, the shoes, the hair. I kept hearing all these horror stories of girls whose frocks had set them back hundreds of pounds, or who had them shipped from New York, or Paris. After trawling around the shops to no avail, my daughter was fraught, to say the least.

So what a relief when she found a gorgeous dress in a sale for £31, and shoes for not much more. And, despite all her friends booking hair dos on the day, she’s opted to do it herself.

They’re also going by open-top double-decker bus, paying less than a fiver each.

The whole thing, to which my daughter is contributing half, cost far less than her sister’s primary school prom, where girls and boys dressed like extras from The Only Way Is Essex, and piled into limousines for a spin before a slap-up barbecue.

This American import has taken on huge significance in the calendar of children at certain stages of school life. What amazes me is that they don’t have just the one. They have three, one in Year six, the others in Years 11 (fifth year to those of us who grew up before all this ridiculous numbering of years – not counting the newly-created ‘reception’, of course – another nonsensical invention) and 13. It’s a far cry from my experience. When we left primary school we didn’t look back. If someone had suggested a party, we’d have thought they were bonkers. I don’t think I’d ever seen a limo, other than in footage of President Kennedy’s assasination. As for a ball gown, I’d have had to wear my mum’s wedding dress which she’d passed to us for dressing-up.

A few years down the line, aged 16, most people couldn’t wait to leave school. I remember seeing jumpers and ties hanging on trees, and even strewn over the flyover bridge. It would take a lot of free champagne (and chips thrown in) to drag them back.

In sixth form, we students did bond a little and, as we prepared to venture into the wider world, organised what would probably pass for today’s prom. We went on the regular school bus to Philmore’s nightclub, on the seafront in Saltburn, and had a great time, despite there being no glittering gowns in sight.

Now there are websites on how to prepare for your prom months in advance – ordering the dress, making beautician appointments, even following an eating plan.

Seems to me it creates more stress than the exams and should be scrapped, along with way-too-easy GCSEs.