On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: Parental nativity rage

Parents are a funny mob. Especially at Christmas. Nothing, as many teachers will vouch, is good enough for Little Jane or Jonny.

And doubly so during nativity play season. Oh the politics of the casting, eh? There can't be many primary heads who haven't received a volley of abuse when announcing that Little Jemima is going to play the rear end of the understudy donkey.

New research appears to reinforce this. Apparently some two out of three women (out of a sample of over 1,000 interviewed by Christian Research) believe that the Virgin Mary is cast based on looks, favouritism and being a swot, while just 3 per cent reckon that the lead roles are down to acting talent. (Although it is slightly questionable just how theatrical verve can be identified in most reception kids.)

The origins of these passionate opinions - ones that besmirch the good name of the teaching profession - can, it would seem, be found in childhood. Some two out of three mothers admit that they failed to win the role of Mary after desperately wanting it. This kind of rejection, of course, cuts deep.

But perhaps it's time for the good people of Britain to grow up, and accept that there's nothing wrong with playing a donkey's bottom, and that Little Jamie from No. 54 ought to be allowed his moment in the spotlight? Otherwise, primary parents, you'll find yourself on the TES Naughty Step during the all-important Christmas build-up. And those Toys R Us trolleys aren't going to fill themselves.

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