'Scrooge school' has taken away pupils' Christmas nativity: Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe says it is focused on raising standards
PARENTS have branded a Christian primary school as "Scrooge Academy" – because it is not hosting a nativity, Christmas party or carol concert for its pupils.
Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe says the festivities would interrupt pupil learning as it strives to improve achievements in maths, English and, specifically, reading.
But upset parents have interpreted this as cancelling Christmas until their children do better.
A statement released to parents on the school's Facebook page has prompted them to post outraged comments.
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Their anger comes just days after the school – prior to its academy conversion – was ranked last out of 44 in North East Lincolnshire in Department of Education Key Stage 2 rankings.
Amanda Markey, whose child attends the school, said: "They have stolen Christmas from the children.
"It should be called the Scrooge Academy. Where is the fun?
"They can take children out of class for assemblies but they can't find the time to organise a play? To say they cannot have Christmas until their grades improve is really unfair.
"Surely getting the students to learn a script for a festive play would aid learning, and the performance would build confidence.
"How can that not be of benefit to their education? The children are really disappointed; it has really affected them.
"Why can't they have a bit of fun on the last days of school?"
Helen Merriman-Sellars, 38, whose daughter Bethanie, 6, attends the school, said Christmas could have been incorporated into the children's lessons.
She said: "While I agree that the school needs to focus on education, with a bit of planning they could easily have incorporated things like a nativity into lessons. It's educational for the children to learn about things like that and it's also an important part of their childhood.
"They are not at secondary school level, they are just primary school children.
"There's also been a lot of bad feeling because the school left it so late in the day to tell us. If they were going to do this, they should have communicated it earlier to save as much upset."
Ms Markey claimed pupils had been told to call the tree a "Winter Tree", but this was refuted by the academy.
A spokesperson from Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe said: "The academy realises that some parents are disappointed that we're not putting on a Christmas play this year.
"This is because such plays take many weeks of rehearsal time and, given the current context at Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe with very low standards of attainment (especially in reading), the academy needs to prioritise and focus rigorously on raising standards in English and maths for all our students.
"To do this, our students need to focus on their school work throughout the term. However, this far from means that we're not having any other Christmas activities and celebrations at the academy and these include a visiting theatre company, special Christmas assemblies, a Christmas fair, carols around the tree and a Christmas dinner for students and their parents to attend.
"In the future, when education standards have been notably raised at the academy, there will be an opportunity to re-introduce termly music and drama productions without compromising the students' entitlement to success and progress in key areas such and reading, writing and maths."
And a spokesperson from the Oasis group, which runs the academy, said: "There is a certain irony to the situation, in that people would think a Christian organisation would try to cancel Christmas.
"Christmas has not been cancelled and there have been other festive events put on instead of a nativity play.
"We understand that might upset some parents but we are trying to do what is best for the students."
• Telegraph opinion: Is the school right?