A lot of sentimental sloppy nonsense gets written or reported around this time of year, but sometimes you read something that really does make you wonder if the spirit of Christmas hasn’t been totally demolished under the tidal wave of consumerism or petty bureaucracy.
Today’s piece of Christmas humbug comes to us courtesy of Britain’s burgeoning army of humourless public servants who sound more like Nazi concentration camp guards by the day. “I was only following orders,” they protest as yet another cock-up comes to light.
The latest of these Scrooge moments comes to us via Ryecroft Primary School, in Bradford. Brother and sister Sean and Claire Watson were barred from an end-of-term disco held to reward children with a 100% school attendance record for the Winter term. Those who had been ill or absent for any reason were not invited.
I imagine a disco with just two or three kids wouldn’t have been much fun but that’s not the point. The purpose for holding the disco was to humiliate, exclude and cajole others to improving their school attendance record – a nicely balanced blend of stick and carrot akin to modern day stocks. However, the children in question were just five and seven years old. What’s more, they were barred from the party because they’d had the temerity to take four days off school when their father died of a particularly aggressive form of cancer.
When the children’s mother Samantha phoned the school to confirm that the children had been barred from the party, the robotic twerp of a school secretary assured her that Sean and Claire could not attend because even time off for a bereavement counted as an ‘absence’.
Well, soon the PR shit hit the fan and the school’s headteacher rapidly backtracked and apologised, but not before adding that the way the mother spoke to the school secretary was an aggravating factor and implying that if Samantha had sucked up to the petty little bureaucrat and dripped honey in her ear, she might have deigned to ask the headteacher to bend the rules.
The harridan of a headmistress claimed: 'We have an attendance disco and within that policy we look at the children who have a 100 per cent attendance record. It's not instead of all the normal Christmas parties, it's in addition to that as a reward. We are trying to build a community that attends school and regards school as absolutely vital for the future. It's so strict that, for example, families who have a lot of lates are not invited to the disco because we are committed to getting children here. I would feel so sad to take away this reward for excellence because some people are sad that they are not invited.'
The headmistress also cooed that the school always supported families that suffered bereavements and she was sympathetic to the Watsons' situation – but obviously not that sympathetic!
She added: 'We have gone from the bottom six up 39 places in the league tables of achievement in Bradford. We beat the national standard for writing and for science.'
So that’s all right, then!