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No noisy toddlers at Christmas play

PUBLISHED: 10:11 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 03 July 2010

With the odd fluffed line, cute costumes and slightly nervous children being watched by their pride parents the nativity play is one of the real joys of Christmas.

With the odd fluffed line, cute costumes and slightly nervous children being watched by their pride parents the nativity play is one of the real joys of Christmas.

But there is a downside to enjoying the scenes of children dressing as Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men - noisy younger brothers and sisters in the audience drowning out the budding actors.

In order to prevent raucous pre-school youngsters from disrupting the performance of nearly 100 pupils in front of an entranced audience a Norfolk village school has decided to act.

Fairhaven Primary School, in South Walsham, near Norwich, has switched the time of its traditional nativity play at St Mary's Church on December 15.

By rearranging the time to coincide with pre-school activities in the village, headteacher Melodie Fearns hopes that the nativity will not be interrupted by the sound of any noisy toddlers.

All parents at Fairhaven have received a newsletter from the school explaining the decision to try and limit the number of toddlers after repeated interruptions during October's harvest festival celebrations.

During the harvest celebrations pre-school children drowned out the church ceremony as they played with their toys in a crèche section and their parents failed to control them properly.

Mrs Fearns said: “Pre-school children have not been banned from the nativity but we have moved the time so that if children attend pre- school it may reduce the number of them attending our service.

“The reasons are so that background noise is reduced so that our children who have worked hard on their 2 minutes of fame in our service can be heard and so that the environment can be calm and quiet in order to promote a spiritual feeling.

“This was not the case for our recent harvest festival - when our guest of a Salvation Army Officer was drowned out by some of the pre-schoolers attending.

“If some parents will not take responsibility for their own children then I have to take steps to try and improve things for the majority as best I can.

“This decision was not taken lightly as we base our ethos on a family setting.”

Pupils at the school support the nativity time switch after they took part in the interrupted harvest festival.

Harvey Pyer, nine, said “I was disappointed because I had worked really hard to learn my lines and then I couldn't be heard.”

Elise Phillips,10, said “It would have been better if the parents had taken them out, but they didn't and they just ended up banging about at the back of the church.”

The nativity service starts at St Mary's Church on December 15 at 10.30am. Anyone who wants to attend will not be admitted before 10.25am.

In the last few years innocent Christmas celebrations have hit the national and regional headlines over rows of political correctness, banning cameras and stopping under 18s attending.

In December 2002 Homefield First School in Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, sparked controversy after it banned cameras from its nativity play over child protection issues. The following year it ditched its nativity show for parents for a carol service.

In 2006 Knowland Grove Community School in Norwich decided to replace its traditional nativity with a multi cultural themed performance.

Last year King's Ford Infant School in Colchester, Essex, banned all under 18-year-olds from an evening nativity performance to stop pupils being distracted on stage.

And in 2008 a Nottingham junior school postponed its Christmas pantomime to make way for a celebration of the Muslin festival of Eid.

In 2005 a school in Harrow, north London scrapped its nativity for a festival of light seasonal celebration to recognise four major faiths.

The Red Cross banned Christmas nativity decorations from its UK charity shops in case they offended customers of other faiths in 2003.

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