Keep this day special in schools

Some of our readers will have fond childhood memories of St David's Day.

The dressing up, the obligatory singing of timeless Welsh songs, and then the joy of being sent home at lunchtime for a Welsh cake, piping hot from the baking stone of granny's kitchen (see page 3).

But supporters of making this special day an official holiday miss the point. Their motives also need examining. The innocence of this day should not become muddied with what appears to be a political boxing match with London.

The Welsh Conservatives were eager to jump on the bandwagon, blaming Mr Blair for spoiling the Welsh parade by refusing to sanction a one day holiday - yet again. Yes, there does appear to be widespread support for making March 1 a national holiday. We cannot scoff at 11,000 signatures.

Welsh-language union UCAC has supported the campaign, but it is evident there are mixed feelings across the education unions. The cost of a Welsh victory over Westminster, according to Geraint Davies from the NASUWT Cynru, is the loss of the traditional school celebrations.

He has a point. Today, children from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds come together to share the occasion and learn a little of the culture of the country they have settled in. They are united with the singing and festivities. They enjoy dressing up in the "funny hats" and old-fashioned shawls, an obligatory daffodil or leek attached with a safety pin.

For some children, this will be the only chance they get to sing a Welsh song or learn more about St David and his story. It would be sad to think that children could miss out, instead staying home, possibly complaining of being bored.

Schools are a focal point of the March 1 celebrations and the event is cherished in the education calendar. Let's hope it stays that way - inside the school gates.

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