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World News

Government minister tells schools nativity plays should go ahead

by Premier Journalist

Schools Minister Robert Walker has encouraged teachers not to axe in person nativity plays stating that it's important that "traditions are maintained".

Mr Walker has been speaking after reports many schools were moving their performances online.

Speaking to PA, he said: "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."

"I think it's good where those important traditions can be maintained that they are."

The teachers union NAHT has reported that many schools are stopping parents attending the performances and instead letting them watch via zoom.

Despite Covid concerns, a Christian-led music firm which provides scripts and scores for Nativity plays says it's seeing demand return to pre-pandemic levels.

Out of the Ark Music has been creating music for thirty years and has a customer base of more than 20,000 schools. 

Speaking to Premier, the company's co-founder, Helen Johnson said: "Last year schools just lost the opportunity, almost across the board, to do anything in the way of Nativities live. This year we've seen a good resurgence. It's been later kicking in, but in November our sales are, dare I say, close to normal."

Helen says teachers and schools are excited at the prospect of Christmas Shows returning. "Cautious optimism is probably the safest way of putting it. There's a real enthusiasm and an eagerness to see Nativities reinstated. Inevitably it's balanced by a caution."

Co-founder Mark Johnson says Primary School teachers tend to order bible-based productions that focus on the birth of Jesus. "The younger ones tend to be the ones who want to do a traditional Nativity with the tinsel and the tea towels and everything - and the parents with cameras and it's so important and such an amazing tradition."

Teachers of older age groups will sometimes want to combine the Gospel narratives with broader social themes. "You have the traditional Bethlehem story but there are titles that feature topics such as inclusivity, welcoming and other elements. Or (some schools choose) a non-religious topic"

Mark Johnson says for children and teachers, the act of putting on a Nativity play is a Christmas tradition, an important educational activity and also a way schools can reflect Christian values. "It's so important in so many ways when people get together and they work on a title and they share together. And there's something very spiritual about music - just the playing of music per se."

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