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Should nurseries shun traditional nativities and put on secular plays that are more inclusive?


A secular nursery, based in Scotland

Zoe Raven, managing director of Acorn Childcare

Poll: Should nurseries shun traditional nativities and put on secular plays that are more inclusive?




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Britain is becoming increasingly multicultural with a diverse range of religions and cultures. In order to be inclusive many nurseries have gone down the path of putting on secular plays at Christmas time. The latest Census showed a quarter of the British population describe themselves as having ‘no religion’ so are nativity plays still relevant in today’s society?

A nursery in Scotland follows the secular policy and has taken the decision not to celebrate any religious festival at all.

A spokesman for the nursery said we are “not associated with any specific religion and draw children from a variety of faiths, plus an increasing number of children from families that profess no faith.

“Because of this we do not celebrate any religious festival,” he added

However in the final week of the academic year before the Christmas break, the nursery does invite a member of staff or a parent who has completed a Disclosure Scotland Certificate to take on the role of Father Christmas and hand out a small present to the children.

The nursery takes the view that this is a non-religious celebration.

“As a result of the policy, parents are reminded at the start of December each year that it is the policy of the nursery to remain outside issues of faith, and that the children will not be involved in any Christmas celebrations such as the production of a nativity play,” said the spokesman.


Zoe Raven who runs nine nurseries in Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire believes it is political correctness that has gone too far and says: “Children from all cultural backgrounds can enjoy the Christmas story as well as other seasonal festivals, and we shouldn’t be afraid to enjoy it with them”.

She believes that the “story of Christmas is often lost in the excitement of decorations, lights, and the anticipation of presents from Father Christmas” and said: “Nurseries can offer children their first opportunity to learn about the nativity story.

“I believe this is important, not because of any religious belief, but because Christmas is part of our culture and telling the story of Christmas helps to counteract the barrage of commercialism that threatens to take over at this time of year. “The story of a baby born in a stable, three wise men carrying gifts and a magical star is a great story to tell and provided it is done with sensitivity to children’s interests and willingness to participate (not just for the parents’ desire to see them dressed up) can be great fun and very special.

“I can understand why practitioners might be tempted to ‘do something different’ but there is nothing clichéd or stale about it for children, it’s probably their first experience of the story behind one of the biggest celebrations of the year.”


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Julie Dervey

Julie Dervey

21 Aug 2013 3:46 PM

I think that Xmas is a key part of Christianity and integral to the UK's traditional values. The Nativity helps children to understand some of the more emotive elements of Christianity. I believe that children should be exposed to similar critical events in other religious calendars. Surely these kinds of festivals help to remind children that events like Xmas are not only about getting gifts and encourages them to question and analyse differing perspectives.