Nativity Play at British School Reflects Religious Diversity

December 11, 2003

Source: The Independent

On December 11, 2003 The Independent reported, "At Cranford Infant and Nursery School, the rehearsal for the nativity play is going well. The shepherds look a little nervous, the angels a little boisterous - it is no different here from hundreds of schools up and down the land as the nativity season gets under way. It is not every school, however, in which Mary will be played by a Filipino Christian six-year-old and Joseph by a Punjabi Sikh seven-year-old. At Cranford, hard up against the Heathrow perimeter fence in Hounslow, on the outskirts of London, 91 per cent of pupils are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Some schools have a large Christian minority population, but at Cranford the mix is wide, with Punjabi Sikh and Pakistani Muslim children dominating, and a fair sprinkling of Hindu and Christian children. It raises the question of whether schools such as Cranford should perform a nativity play at all. Yet all the evidence is that this much-loved remnant of the somewhat holier Christmases of days past is staying the course, even if it varies in its religious overtones...Cranford, which recently got an Ofsted accolade for its atmosphere of 'total racial harmony', also works hard to promote other religions and cultures within the school. This makes for a pretty busy autumn for hard-working staff, who progress through a season of assemblies celebrating harvest festival, Diwali and Eid before they even reach Christmas. The Cranford children had, in fact, visited a Sikh temple and a mosque the morning before their nativity rehearsal."