I’m no Grinch, says headteacher who ‘rationalised’ Christmas

A headteacher accused of being a “Grinch” for cancelling Christmas plays has defended his decision, saying it was necessary to “rationalise” celebrations in a climate of tough Ofsted scrutiny.

Andrew Gould, acting headteacher at Barming Primary School in Maidstone, Kent, told TES that he chose to end school plays for all but Reception pupils because he “could not justify” taking children out of lessons to rehearse.

Doing so risked shifting the focus of the school away from teaching and learning, at a time when it is working to reverse an “inadequate” Ofsted judgement, he said.

The decision by Mr Gould, who was brought in to turn the school around in April in the wake of the bad Ofsted report, provoked an angry campaign from some parents and a series of newspaper headlines, describing him as a “Grinch” who had “cancelled Christmas”.

“It was a good seasonal story for them – I’m a pantomime villain,” he said. “But I haven’t banned Christmas, as has been publicised. I’ve merely rationalised Christmas.” He pointed out that children in Reception will still take part in a nativity play, and older pupils will have a family evening of carol singing.

Tony Draper, head of Water Hall Primary School in Milton Keynes and president of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said Mr Gould was probably not alone in putting a dampener on celebrations. “I would suspect that a lot of colleagues are very concerned that they just can’t take the time out from the curriculum,” he said.

This is an edited version of an article from the 18 December edition of TES. To read the full article click here (free to subscribers). To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. Or pick up the magazine in all good newsagents.

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