Nativity plays should be staged in schools this Christmas despite Covid fears, minister says
- Schools Minister Robin Walker has encouraged schools to stage Nativity plays
- Many schools have cancelled the end-of-term performance over Covid concerns
- Walker wants ‘as many going forward as possible’ as it is an important tradition
Schools should stage Nativity plays despite Covid concerns because they are important traditions, the schools minister has urged.
Robin Walker said he would like to see ‘as many going forward as possible’ this Christmas amid reports of many cancellations.
Whitmore Primary School in Essex last week announced it was cancelling its in-person end-of-term performance. Instead, each class will perform its own Nativity play, which will be recorded for parents, to ‘prevent the spread of Covid’.
Meanwhile at Wyke Regis Primary Federation in Dorset all Christmas activities will be ‘limited to in-school only and will be shared online with parents’.
And Cranborne Primary School in Hertfordshire has told parents they can only watch the Nativity play remotely.
But yesterday Mr Walker said: ‘I want to see schools continuing to engage with parents in as constructive a way as they possibly can.
‘Of course, where they can go ahead safely, things like Nativity plays and end-of-term shows are really important and a good way of doing that. I would want to see as many going forward as possible.’
Schools should stage Nativity plays despite Covid concerns because they are important traditions, Schools Minister Robin Walker has urged
When asked whether it was wrong for schools to axe in-person Nativity plays and festive events, Mr Walker said: ‘I think it’s good where those important traditions can be maintained that they are.’
But he added: ‘I understand there will be schools that feel that they have to take extra precautions and particularly when it’s about adults coming into a school… they need to be able to look at their local circumstances.
‘They need to be able to work with the local directors of public health who will have a feel for the local situation. And I respect that that’s going to be different in different parts of the country.’
Last year, many schools were forced to cancel their Nativity plays amid the pandemic while others hosted the traditional performances online instead.
School leaders’ union NAHT said some of its members had this year moved Nativities and festive celebrations online or to video-only, because of rising cases locally.
Mr Walker said: ‘I recognise – and I had to do that last year – in these circumstances sometimes they will feel it’s safer for the children to go ahead with a performance and the parents to watch it remotely. That has been part of the reality that we’ve all been through.’
Mr Walker said: ‘I want to see schools continuing to engage with parents in as constructive a way as they possibly can… things like Nativity plays and end-of-term shows are really important and a good way of doing that’
James Bowen, director of policy for NAHT, said: ‘There is nothing schools want more than to have a hall full of families enjoying the children putting on their festive show.
‘However, they have so many things to balance when deciding what to do this year. Schools will be listening carefully to the advice being given by the public health teams and local authorities and putting the appropriate measures in place based on that advice.’
Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Leaders will be realistic about the significant challenges they continue to face in tackling the disruption to normal school life…
‘Some may, reluctantly, decide to cancel shows but the technology that has played such a vital role in education during the pandemic also offers schools the opportunity to stage virtual performances.’