Secret Teacher: do they know it’s Christmas?

This week’s Secret Teacher in the Guardian is wondering what has happened to Christmas at school and says it should be a time for classroom decorations and silly plays, not rapid progress, levels and too much homework…

…When I was at school, I remember this time of year being full of excitement. A time when I proudly brought home a plastic bag full of tat and glitter to put on our Christmas tree at the end of term. A time when a toilet roll tube Christmas cracker was a gift that every parent expected their child to bring home with them.

And now? My son brought home a Christmas card that consisted of a piece of white card folded in half which had been decorated with pictures from clipart. It had a typed message on the back about the learning objectives covered in the task. Disappointing.

The other thing in his book bag was an ‘Investigating Christmas cards’ worksheet. The instructions at the top asked for the children to sort Christmas cards into sacred and secular groups. No glitter, no wonky paper lantern or cotton wool ball snowman and therefore no proud moment when my son could present these items to me. I felt disappointment. What had happened to Christmas at school?

Of course, I know only too well what has happened to Christmas at school. At the end of term the priority in my own classroom was also not going to be Christmas. As in all schools, the teachers in my school had been asked to look at our Assessing Pupils Progress (APP) results to highlight weak areas.

I had noted there was a weak area within fractions within my own class. So, in a desperate attempt to revive Christmas, I planned to let the children make folded snowflakes and incorporate the concept of quarters within the task. After all, I know that nowadays I couldn’t just make snowflakes without there being some educational value to them. Interestingly though, my children watched in awe as I produced my snowflake...

Don’t get me wrong, I know that school should be about learning, but there used to be so much more to learn from school. Maybe I am looking back with rose-tinted spectacles or perhaps I am just feeling exhausted having had to plan for hours on end for the coming term already…

I feel disappointment, regret and failure for the children at Christmas time. They are missing out and that makes me feel so sad. This is particularly the case in my school as we are expecting Ofsted any time and wouldn’t want to be seen to be allowing Christmas to get in the way of ‘rapid progress’. So my question still stands. Are we getting it right for our children?

This week’s Secret Teacher works at a primary school in the south east of England.

More at:  Secret Teacher: do they know it’s Christmas?

Do you agree with the Secret Teacher? Has the idea of fun and enjoyment at Christmas in your/your child’s school been sacrificed for more learning progress? Please let us know how you keep the magic alive in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Teaching.


  1. eQeltd

    SchoolsImprove child led learning
    Follow their interest = get higher engagement, better learning, keep the excitement and wonder

  2. THEB16MAN

    SchoolsImprove I witnessed a y11 class last wk where only 14/30 could make a paper aeroplane. #change1thing was the focus

  3. Primr0se1

    eQeltd SchoolsImprove Spot on!!! Where’s the logic in education gone?? No-one ‘teaches’ a baby to breathe, walk & talk. Children can learn

  4. diasporahighsch

    eQeltd SchoolsImprove Absolutely agree with this. So tired of seeing the one size fits all approach. It doesn’t work, especially for boys!

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