Parents slam nativity ban as schools to stream plays online

Parents have made a plea for “shameful” ban on attending nativity plays to be scrapped, after schools said they couldn’t hold events with live audiences.

By Jolene Campbell
Saturday, 27th November 2021, 4:55 am

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Politicians have backed calls for parents to be allowed to watch nativity plays in person after the council confirmed schools would have to stream plays online over covid-19 safety fears.

It comes after Scottish Government guidance was issued to schools banning nativity plays and Christmas concerts with a live audience.

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Figures show that only half of Scottish schools have any active Covid cases, while “very few” have enough to be classified as an outbreak

But under the new guidance “seasonal events” within schools should not have live audiences and will need to use “alternative means” to make sure performances are available to parents.

Teaching unions have backed the rules and stressed the decision would help prevent outbreaks so schools could remain open.

Edinburgh council chiefs said they understand it is disappointing for parents not to attend nativities but stressed schools could send video links or do performances outdoors.

Parents can't attend nativity indoors schools told

School trips to theatres have also been cancelled, leaving teenagers at city high schools disappointed after schools said it would breach government guidance.

Meanwhile, several independent dance groups in the capital attended by children as young as three are putting on ticketed shows at theatre venues in the coming weeks, which will be attended by large audiences.

Charlotte Bell whose son George, 4, attends a council nursery said: “It's shameful. I’m devastated like many parents. I’m a parent rep and we met up yesterday to discuss this. Some were on the verge of tears about it. We all understood it last year but this year there are so many other venues open and adults can do many activities in groups. We’re all already mixing and could hold a party in our house if we wanted.

"Kids get so much from performing in nativity. It's a cultural and social, as well as learning activity. They build confidence, take pride in it and for the first time they learn to feel that

they are part of something bigger. A community made up of a supporting body of families. It really captures the spirit of Christmas and watching it on video is no substitute. I hope

my son gets to do it at primary because he’s now missed the chance at nursery twice. He’s missed out on this important occasion that becomes part of a family’s history. It’s

dreadful. I think it’s high time the Scottish Government made children a priority. It comes down to the fact that there’s no economic pressure on them and that is just shameful.”

Emma whose daughter is in p2 at Trinity primary said: "It's good that they make the effort to show the plays online but its just not the same as being able to be there and be a part of it with them. This year it's even harder because there's so much we can all do in group settings. And the kids are all mixing in the class and playground, there's no bubbles anymore. It doesn't make sense. I think they shouldn't ban parents attending in person, and need to find ways to make it work."

Councillor Sue Webber said: “Parents are exasperated. We see 67,000 going to rugby, people can go clubbing and kids from other areas going to school trip theatre events. Yet

parents will miss out on this important milestone. It’s unfair and clearly doesn't work to expect young children who will be in fancy dress to put on a nativity outside, it’s freezing. We

need to overturn this ban and allow families and children to make the most of nativity plays safely.”

Hal Osler, councillor for Inverleith said: “I understand the pressure to keep schools open and the responsibility to protect children. But we seem to have one reality for public life and

another for schools. It seems the priorities are skewed. Kids are endlessly paying the price and they have already suffered a lot. I would strongly ask for clarity. The council has

admitted there are mixed messages here.”

Cllr Ian Perry, Education, Children and Families Convener, said: “Our schools follow current Scottish Government guidance so we can keep them open and limit the spread of the

virus to help our communities remain as safe as possible. Schools are encouraged to be creative using the opportunities provided by outdoor learning to hold nativities and

seasonal activities for individual classes. Some adults may be able to spectate as long as mitigation measures are in place to keep everyone safe and there is sufficient outdoor



Parents took to social media to express their frustration over the ban.

One mum said: “How is it OK for me to attend a football or rugby stadium or theatre full of people for the panto but still not be able to watch my children (one of whom is a new P1) in their first nativity or sports day! We have all been through so much and missed so many milestones already and they are only wee for such a short time.

"Children and parents are also all mixing outside of school so what difference does it make if social distance and masks were used! This makes me angry and sad that I'll miss these milestones in my child's life.”

Another mum said: “I would love to be going to see my daughters first nativity - she’s an angel and is so excited. Her teacher phoned the other night to let us know how amazing she’s doing with the songs and stuff for it. But unfortunately we’re not allowed and will only be seeing it on video. Perfectly fine for everyone to go to gigs and football games though.”

One mum said: “Just hold the nativity in a pub then we can all go see our kids! Bloody ridiculous, we’d have wear masks anyway!”

Some readers blasted the First Minister over the decision. One said: “Cop26, no masks, selfie taking with anyone she felt would give publicity was ok for her?? Seems likes one rule for her and different rules for us.”

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