At Christmas, schools (particularly primary schools) will be decorating their halls, planning Christmassy activities and tucking into a Christmas lunch.
But when it comes to Halloween, there now seems to be a real split over whether schools should even acknowledge it as an event.
Some schools have said that Halloween isn’t inclusive as there are children who are explicitly not allowed to celebrate it and have previously been kept home on Halloween. Other schools don’t celebrate it on religious grounds.
But I think we would be missing a real opportunity if we ignore Halloween. Here are five ways to bring it into your classroom.
1. Spice up content
Halloween themes can be incorporated into science, literacy, history and maths lessons – and more. But we shouldn’t ever do anything just for the sake of it. Make sure the learning goals are clear and that Halloween adds to, not consumes, the content you are trying to teach. And teach the pupils about the background of Halloween and explain how it has developed over the years.
2. Go global
The US obsession with Halloween and the roles of other countries in Halloween-related narratives provides an opportunity for you to go international with your teaching. Can you have a Skype call with a US school where Halloween is huge? Can you explore the history of Dracula, and the character's connection with Romania?
3. Hold a disco
Dressing up in Halloween costumes and having a horror-themed dance is surely a right of passage for every child. But put some proper thought into it. A disco can be a great fundraising event for the PTA and the school, it can be a great way of bringing the school community together, and it can provide a boost to everyone at a particularly tough time of the year as the days get shorter and the workload heavier.
4. Safeguarding session
Whether you embrace Halloween in school or not, many of your pupils will go home and take to the streets for some trick or treating. While safety in doing this is primarily a concern for parents, we should at least reinforce messages from home in the classroom. Talk to them about staying safe when trick or treating – the lessons will stay with them far beyond All Hallows’ Eve.
5. Embrace the games
Yes, we have Sats pressure, and Ofsted pressure and not enough time to squeeze in all the content… but, let’s embrace fun when we have the chance. Give them experiences they’ll never forget. Things like pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples and costume competitions are great experiences that they’ll remember and treasure.
Shannen Doherty is a Year 4 teacher in South London