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Pupils can learn from the dark side

Schools that shun Hallowe'en for religious reasons might be passing up a golden opportunity to engage children on the subject of good and evil, according to the leader of the Association of Christian Teachers.

Many church schools refuse to teach Hallowe'en-related subjects because of the festival's paganroots.

A survey of members of the Association of Christian Teachers this month found that Christian teachers were largely opposed to Hallowe'en parties and assemblies. The majority also said that trick-or-treat activities should be actively discouraged.

But Rupert Kaye, the association's chief executive, said: "There is a great deal of ignorance about Hallowe'en as a festival. Just as Christmas is often seen as a time of parties and presents rather than a celebration of the birth of Christ, Hallowe'en tends to be about dressing up as witches without appreciating the festival's spiritual roots.

"I think schools should talk about the history of the festival and draw on the spiritual dimension. We need to look at it to inform, educate and ultimately protect children, because there is good and there is evil."

Mr Kaye said the feast of All Souls which falls tomorrow, the day after Hallowe'en, was more important for the Christian calendar as it recognised all those living and dead as part of the same family of believers. He said many church schools used to recognise the day with a service.

He said that the common perception of Hallowe'en, which links it to the supernatural, and its portrayal in films could be unhealthy.

"Do we really want to encourage children to dress up as vampires and ghouls? Our role is to question whether this is the way we want to go in society," he said.

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