Parents' photo ban at school nativities slammed

A PARENT was frank-incensed this week when a dictatorial school stopped him filming his son s nativity play. Steve Brown, whose son is a pupil at Broom Barns Junior School in Stevenage, was angered when he received an email from the headteacher telling

A PARENT was frank-incensed this week when a "dictatorial" school stopped him filming his son's nativity play.

Steve Brown, whose son is a pupil at Broom Barns Junior School in Stevenage, was angered when he received an email from the headteacher telling parents they would not be allowed to take photographs or video this year's nativity play.

"She was at pains to explain that this was not her decision and had no say in the matter because it 'came from above'," he said. "As a parent that has always recorded such events I was incensed by this dictatorial decision.

"My anger was mirrored by the mother beside me who was reduced to tears because she could not have a permanent and personal record. It is a moment lost to all of us.


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"This has achieved one thing, to upset loving parents who will forever resent what has been done."

When asked to respond, the school directed The Comet to Herts County Council, the body with overall responsible for education in the county.

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A council spokesman said they gave guidance to schools but it was ultimately down to the headteacher who may have pupils who cannot be identified for legal reasons. "They usually have an exceedingly good reason for stopping people taking photos," she said.

Around Comet country headteachers take different approaches to the issue.

At St Pauls Walden in Whitwell and Codicote C of E in Codicote both had a similar policy this year, making it clear to parents they could take photographs and video of the nativity but not to post these on websites.

Codicote head, Liz Pollard, said: "Parents get a lot of pleasure from seeing their children on video, but these must be kept for private use only to protect the children's privacy. We have children, who perfectly justifiably, should not put up on a website. We wanted to be in a position where we could trust parents."

Hitchin's Wilshere-Dacre Junior School headteacher Susan Sheffield said the school had a policy of allowing parents to take photographs of their own children, but admitted that this did not guarantee other children would not be in the shot. Video of school events was allowed but only by pre-agreement. "They cannot film willy-nilly," she said.

Karen Ireland, head at Mary Exton School in Hitchin said the school made a recording of the play available to parents and allowed them to take photos only at the end when the children bow. "Aside from the child protection issue it would be very intrusive. Even if we wanted to it would not be logistically possible with parents standing up," she said.

At Wilbury JMI in Letchworth GC, parents were banned from taking photographs at last week's nativity because of a "no-photo policy" in place for some years.

While at Northfields Infant and Nursery School in the town parents were given the choice.

"Tickets contained information asking parents whether they objected to pictures being taken and if they did they were asked to tell the headteacher," said a member of staff. This year there were no objections and parents were free to take pictures."

Wymondley Junior head, Alison Emmerson, said: "Generally what we say is that if anybody objects then no one can take photos. But this has never happened. Nativity is something that parents usually want to keep.

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