The education department in Rochdale county council has issued a blanket memo to all schools on what it labels “insensitive fancy dress” for nativity plays.

It has said that the wearing of head coverings for the characters in the play is deemed at risk of causing offence to certain members of the community. An excerpt from the email reads:

“The education and welfare of our children is paramount. As such we strive to promote harmony amongst all our pupils throughout the borough. It has come to our attention that the wearing of headscarves is tantamount to the practice of ‘blacking up’ for plays and dramatic performances. As such it has been deemed equally unacceptable. We are not against the nativity play per se and as such advise they should still go ahead with culturally neutral attire.”

The spokesperson we contacted has told us that the advice is not legally binding and indeed, is purely an advisory notice.

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