"I'm just gobsmacked – how can you treat a child like that? I want them to be investigated…" Patrick Davies
The family of Lurelle Bancroft were left `gobsmacked' and `disgusted' on Friday night after seeing the reigning Miss Teen Salford in tears as she was turned away from the end of year Prom night at Buile Hill Visual Arts College.
Last year, Lurelle scooped the Miss Teen Salford crown and went on to represent the city in the Miss Teen Great Britain contest - set up to `to celebrate teenagers and their achievements, and to ultimately find a great role-model'.
As part of the competition Lurelle raised money for the Clare House Children's Hospice, brought lots of positive publicity to her school, and even had a personal `good luck' note from Salford MP Hazel Blears (see Salford Star article - click here).
Now her family is accusing the school of humiliation, victimisation and discrimination, after Lurelle was physically barred from attending Buile Hill's Prom night, having arrived in a dress costing almost £300.
"I had it made by a fashion designer in Manchester, she was so sure she was going because they'd got her hopes up that much" says Lurelle's mum, Candice "But this isn't about the money, it's about the distress they've caused my daughter.
"To actually leave her stood there in her Prom dress, crying, heart broken, in front of all the mums and dads, the teachers, the public and all her friends in their Prom dresses, is disgusting" Candice adds "She was stood there on her own, distraught – and then she had to walk away while they shut the gate behind her and she had to come home."
The end of year Prom night is now the biggest social event in any pupil's school life. To be banned from it is a major disgrace, and the school even has a points system where five official warnings are given on a `Prom card' before anyone is denied access.
Lurelle told the Salford Star that she had only two warnings, and stayed late at school and even went in during the holidays to catch up on exam work to try and turn the warnings around, after being advised by her teacher. Now the school is predicting that Lurelle will get a GCSE A* in at least a couple of exams.
"The deputy head of year got my hopes up, telling me all the things I had to do to be able to go to the Prom but she gave me false hopes" says Lurelle "I've done everything they asked and they still didn't let me go."
Apparently, the school took four days to consider the final verdict, only telling Lurelle the day before that was still barred from the Prom. On the day of the event , the Salford Star spoke to Buile Hill Head Teacher, James Inman, and sent him a subsequent email requesting a comment…
`As you know, she's currently Miss Teen Salford and, as a pupil, has brought lots of positive publicity to the school. Banning her from the Prom seems a bit harsh' we wrote `Lurelle is very upset, particularly as she actually bought the dress she was going to wear…'
Mr Inman replied… "Attending the end of year prom is not a given, students are only invited to attend if they have a good attendance and behaviour record."
Lurelle's mum tells us that her daughter's attendance is 91%, yet there were pupils at the Prom who had only 77%. The level of behaviour points set was 46. Lurelle got 68.
Meanwhile, we understand, a girl who was actually excluded from the school, for beating up a younger pupil, was at the Prom, while others who were on the `Definitely Not Going' list also attended.
"I was told there were about twenty other people on this `Definitely Not Going' list but they were those who never went into school and got no GCSE grades" says Lurelle "I'm coming out with GCSEs, I've brought a good name to the school, I've represented Salford… There's nothing I can think of that I've done to make the school act like this."
In the run up to the Prom, Lurelle's mum contacted Salford Council's Children's Services, only to be told that it was `out of their hands' and to go through official channels. When she phoned the school with her concerns the day before the Prom, she was told `It was too little too late and it was a lesson learned'. Now the family believe that Lurelle has been singled out…
"I'm just gobsmacked" says Patrick Davies her grandmother's partner "I have concerns about Lurelle's wellbeing, and concerns about the staff discriminating against this girl, victimising and humiliating her. We're talking about a child here. The culmination was the Head and other staff waiting for Lurelle at the school gates to tell her that she cannot go to a Prom – how immature is that?
"I've watched her grow and embrace education the way she is supposed to, even when she may have been stuttering at times" he explains "The fact is that she's turned her life around, she's focussed on what was important and not done anything I would regard as offensive. She's a credit, not a bad person, yet that school has given the impression she is a bad person. I want to know what's made that change.
"Have you any idea how distressing it is for a family to go to that school and experience watching that girl being refused access to a Prom, watching her stood there, in her Prom dress, crying, distressed, upset, and not one teacher went anywhere near that girl to console her, they just left her" he adds "As a grandparent I find that disgusting."
Meanwhile, online, Lurelle has been blocked from the school's Twitter feeds, her mum Candice, has been warned off posting comments about the school on her Facebook site - "an invasion of my privacy" - and a parent unknown to the family has set up a Facebook group highlighting the school's behaviour (see here) which drew almost 300 members in 48hours.
"I want the school to be investigated" says Patrick "I would not be responsible if I let this go and didn't notify people about the kind of treatment to expect from Buile Hill."
Beyond the upcoming battles between parents and Buile Hill Visual Arts College, sits a 16 year old girl – the reigning role model, Miss Teen Salford – who has had her heart broken by missing out on the end of school Prom, the most important social event in a pupil's school life.
See also previous Salford Star articles on Lurelle's ascent to the Miss Teen Great Britain Finals – click here and click here and click here
Photos for the Salford Star by Minister Photography
UPDATE: 10th July 2013
James Inman, Head Teacher at Buile Hill Visual Arts College, has been in touch to make the following points…
“Lurelle was given 2 written ‘Prom warnings’ which she ripped up and told staff that her mum had told her not to accept them. As a result of this it was announced by staff that the criteria for the Prom attendance would be to monitor all pupils attendance and behaviour points and only those reaching the set target would be allowed to attend. All pupils were advised of this in an assembly on 8.3.13.
8th October 2012 – Lurelle was warned that her current poor behaviour would result in exclusion from the Prom. Lurelle requested a prom invitation 11th March but was informed she did not meet the criteria so was not invited. Lurelle requested a prom invitation 10th April but this was denied.19th April 2013 - Telephone conversation with Mrs Bancroft regarding Lurelle’s behaviour and truancy. Prom discussed and again invitation denied. Meeting set up for 22nd April @ 4.30pm. Ms Bancroft cancelled the meeting with me on 22nd April to discuss the Prom.
29th April JI met with Mum and another family member and was asked to put her concerns/complaint in writing in accordance with complaints policy. Mum had previously been given a copy of complaints procedure. No written complaint was received. Mum rang and spoke to Heads PA to arrange a meeting with JI to discuss her complaint. PA informed mum that we had still not received her complaint in writing and that she was required to do this before a meeting could take place.To date no written complaint has been received. Mum rang several times on the weeks leading up to the prom and spoke to Mrs. Offord who repeatedly told her that Lurelle was not permitted to attend the Prom.
Lurelle’s attendance at the cut off point of 20.6.13 was 87%. Criteria was NOT just attendance but behaviour and attendance combined. Three pupils attended who had points slightly less than the target. Each were discussed at a panel and individual circumstances taken into account. The level of behaviour points set was 80 Lurelle got 68. Lurelle’s combined attendance + behaviour was points were 28 although behaviour points alone are -56 (minus 56). Pupil concerned [in beating up another pupil] was not excluded from school and unable to comment further regarding circumstances of other pupils.
[Lurelle excluded from the prom for] Persistent unacceptable behaviour over a period of years and poor attendance. Full behaviour log given to parent on 8.7.13. (21 pages long). Did not ring with concerns, rang (mother and Lurelle) countless times all week and came into school ‘begging’ to be allowed to attend
As is usual practise at ALL proms, staff were stood at the door welcoming the pupils. As far as staff were aware Lurelle would not be attending the Prom as she was not invited therefore they were NOT waiting for her. Lurelle was told on several occasions dating back to 8th October 2012 that she was not permitted to attend the Prom."