Parents accuse head of ‘cancelling Christmas’ after concert and craft days axed

The Mail is reporting that a primary school headmistress has cancelled Christmas carol concerts claiming it is too dangerous for children to cross the road to the local church.

Penny Brown, headteacher of Reigate Park Primary School in Mackworth, Derby, said end-of-term concerts would be scrapped because she was ‘not comfortable’ with 360 children crossing the A52 to the church half a mile away.

Furious parents have now accused her of ‘cancelling Christmas’ after children were left in tears when she also axed two festive-themed craft days, where children and parents make Christmas cards…

The headteacher, who only joined the school a month ago, also said the parent craft days were ‘work intensive’ for staff both before and during the events, at a time when the school was preparing for an imminent Ofsted inspection…

Mother Angie Walker, 45, whose son attends the school, said it was the ‘perfect example of the Grinch cancelling Christmas’.

She said: ‘The school bends over backwards to celebrate Eid and Diwali which is great for the kids to learn about other faiths but when it comes to Christmas, it gets scaled back to the bare minimum…”

Mrs Brown, who is standing in for headteacher Peter Hallsworth, who is currently off sick, defended her decision adding that the timetable was ‘top-heavy’ with Christmas events.

She said it was ‘about getting the balance right’, with more emphasis needed on teaching and learning.

She said: ‘I have not ‘cancelled’ Christmas at the school, as there are still several activities taking place, including a Christmas market, carol concert, dinner and nativity play.’

She said: ‘We are a multi-faith society and we have to balance out our understanding of other religious events, which is why we mark Eid, Diwahli and Easter.’

It is understood that the school’s parent teacher association, known as the Friends of Reigate, went on social media earlier this week to gauge support for alternative carol service in the church for parents and pupils.

Mrs Brown added: ‘I am talking with the Friends of Reigate to see if an evening event, involving the local church, can take place in school, but I need to look into the legal implications of this.’

More at: Primary school headmistress cancels Christmas concerts because it’s too dangerous for children to cross the road to church


So the suggestion from the parents appears to be that ‘safety fears’ are being used as a convenient excuse.

What would you say? Do you have sympathy with the parents or think Penny Brown is right to focus on teaching and learning?

If so, how would you suggest dealing with disgruntled parents in a situation like this?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. MadgeJesss

    SchoolsImprove Guess many parents would prefer schools concentrated on teaching, instead of endless seasonal festivities.

  2. Nairb1

    Anyone who thinks the issue of crossing the road is an excuse should drive along that stretch of the A52 from time to time.

  3. MadgeJesss SchoolsImprove Since when were craft activities not teaching?  And surely such days were valued by both parents and children?
    That said, perhaps the days could be reduced to one.

  4. Two issues here: crossing a busy road to get to church for carol service and cancellation of the two craft days.
    First – the head has said a carol concert will take place at school.  There doesn’t, therefore, have to be another at the church.  There will be plenty of services at the church during Christmas for parents who want to attend a religious service.  And the head is right that the A52 is not a safe route (and there is no other) for 300+ children and staff to walk across.
    Second, the cancellation of the two craft days.  Crafts are not an inessential frippery and the days were obviously valued by both parents and children.  A good way of involving parents, I would have thought.  However, the number of days could be reduced to one.
    That said, the head’s only been in post for a month.  It was perhaps unwise to cancel planned activities at short notice – much of the planning would already have been done.

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