Nativity round-up

From the parent who offered a teacher a bribe to the fathers who won’t attend nativity plays – and the vicar who told children that Santa isn’t real!

Christmas is meant to be a time of good will to all men, but this week’s education news has included some truly unseasonal stories!

A vicar annoyed parents and upset children by announcing that Father Christmas does not exist, during a primary school assembly, The Telegraph reports.

Reverend Simon Tatton-Brown told children at Charter Primary School in Chippenham, Wiltshire, that the story of Santa is based on a legend about St. Nicholas, who brought three murdered children back to life after they’d been killed by an evil butcher. Parents complained and said that their children had come home shell-shocked.

Canon Tatton-Brown, who is due to retire at the end of the year, was forced to abandon his prepared talk and ad-lib because of a technical issue. He said his biggest concern was that he had spoilt Christmas for the children and apologised to the school’s headteacher: “I talked about St. Nicholas, and the stories about him, which tells why Santa Claus brings gifts at Christmas,” he explained. “I am sorry if this was misunderstood. I fully support parents who want their young children to enjoy the Christmas stories, including Father Christmas, and I had no intention of undermining their belief in the reality of Santa Claus.”

Meanwhile, desperate parents are paying three times the usual price for last-minute nativity costumes on eBay, according to the Daily Mail. With many outfits selling out in supermarkets, they are being forced to pay inflated prices – £32 for an angel costume and up to £22 for a shepherd outfit. Parent Catherine Wallis from Cambridge had no choice but to bid online when she found out that her son was a shepherd in the school play at the last moment: “Most of the supermarkets have sold out in his size”, she said. “It’s very annoying when I could have bought a similar costume for less than a third of the price a few weeks ago!

Also in the Mail, a survey has revealed that more than one in ten fathers would only go to a nativity play if their child was given the part of Mary or Joseph. 83% of working dads said it was hard to get time off work, with only 16% attending every year.

One father who blamed work commitments said: “I feel so guilty saying this, but I genuinely would only consider taking the time off if she landed the part of Mary. Christmas is an expensive period and I can’t really afford to lose half a day to see her play shepherd number four or the back end of a donkey.” Another disagreed, despite the problems of running low on leave and the risk of leaving the office undermanned: “Each year I try my best to go to both my kids’ nativity plays. I’m proud to watch them perform regardless of what part they are.” Fortunately, he’s typical of the overwhelming majority – 89% – of fathers who want to go to their child’s nativity, no matter what role they’re given!

And finally….one parent went as far as offering a bribe to one of her pupils’ teachers in exchange for a star part. The BBC reports that an unnamed NQT was offered free beauty treatments at a salon if her daughter played Mary in the school’s Nativity: “As a newly qualified teacher I didn’t know how to handle it – as we’d already cast the part,” she said.

What are your views about the lead up to Christmas at school – do you love it or hate it? And do parents take it too seriously or not seriously enough?

2 thoughts on “Nativity round-up

  1. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the vicar who told children Santa doesn’t exist. If we as adults perpetuate the myth of Santa, how then will we have credibility when we introduce the children to the real star of Christmas, Jesus Christ?

  2. While the Mail article begins with, “More than one in ten fathers”, the core of it seems to me to be that almost nine in ten would support their children whatever role they were playing. This is a much healthier figure than I had realised before reading this. Thank you, eteach, for passing this on.

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