Spirit of Christmas past

Festive traditions are going strong in Welsh primaries

Nicola Porter & Andrew Mourant

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Festive traditions are going strong in Welsh primaries . with the exceptions of a helicopter-borne Santa, a tardis landing in Bethlehem and an alcohol ban at the staff party

Christmas traditions, including the nativity play and visits from Santa, are still alive in Welsh primaries, a snapshot survey reveals.

But growing trends for quirky alternatives and alcohol bans at some staff parties might make some teachers wish for Christmas past.

TES Cymru contacted schools and asked what traditions were still alive, and if any were dying out. The majority said traditions existed, but often with "modern twists".

There was support from parents at rural Irfon Valley Primary in Llangammarch Wells, Powys, when Santa arrived in a helicopter, instead of a reindeer drawn sleigh.

At St George Controlled Primary in Abergele, Dr Who descended on Bethlehem in his Tardis, a departure from the usual tale of a heavily pregnant Mary and Joseph arriving on donkey back. "There's a twist every year these days," head Ian Pimblott told TES Cymru.

At Abermule Dolforwyn Primary in Montgomery, the Christmas panto, written by staff and involving every pupil, had a Victorian theme with children lamenting the misery of life without Playstations.

But stories of baby Jesus are still being staged at Christmas concerts at schools in Wales, and are crossing the cultural and religious divide.

At Cardiff's St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales Primary, where 70 per cent of pupils are Muslim, the traditional festivities were staunchly upheld: a party complete with Santa, a fair and a Nativity for Years 1 and 2, all of who took part.

Despite the economic crisis, teachers were receiving presents in large numbers from pupils. But one woman teacher TES Cymru spoke to was shocked to receive a fridge magnet bearing a naked bottom.

A growing trend for alcohol to be banned inside school means more teachers party outside the school gates, and at the weekend - a result of health and safety considerations.

Teaching staff at St Mary's (Cardiff) had their grown-up fun at a Grease tribute night, but it was alcohol free. And at St George's (Abergele) teachers also had a Saturday night out. "I won't allow them to drink wine in school," said Mr Pimblott. "I'm frightened about them getting home afterwards."

Growing trends now mean teachers give to charity instead of sending each other cards. And while this time-honoured exchange survives among most pupils, in some schools it's being discouraged.

This was not one that went down well with everyone last year when pupils at Evan James Primary School in Pontypridd were told they could only swap cards outside the school gates. A local authority spokesperson said children instead gave money they would have spent to a four-year-old Ugandan boy the school has adopted through Actionaid and to Royal Glamorgan Hospital special care baby unit.

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Nicola Porter & Andrew Mourant

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