School no-shows spark social media debate

Parents have taken to social media to query why they cannot attend school Christmas productions around Aylsham, when the high school’s big musical show is still going ahead.

Among the events which are now being recorded instead of held in front of live audiences are those at the John of Gaunt and Bure Valley schools which are part of the high school cluster.

John of Gaunt head Clare Toplis told parents in a letter she “didn’t want to write” that Christmas performances and singalongs were being cancelled as the” risks of joining everyone together in a relatively small space” outweighs the benefits. So their aim was to film performances for parents to enjoy at home.

But the high school’s Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat production is still due to go ahead – albeit with extra Covid precautions on top of those already applying to cinemas and theatres.

They include asking ticket holders to show a Covid passport, double vaccination card or a lateral flow test from the previous 48 hours. Inside the school they will be required to sanitise hands on arrival and wear masks during the performance in a hall which will have windows open for extra ventilation.

The show opens on Monday December 20 and runs until the 23rd with performances at 2.30 and 7.30. 

The contrast saw people raising concerns on the Aylsham community notice board Facebook page.

Comments included:

“What I don’t understand is they are part of the cluster of schools which has seen nativity plays, carol concerts etc cancelled to parents. Seems to be one rule for one and one for another a bit like Boris and co. A five year old in a nativity is just as important to them and their parents and grandparents. Memories they can never get back.” -Keith Robinson

“My daughter is in the reception nativity play and was absolutely gutted that I cannot go see it. I cannot understand why the high school can go ahead. Yes they have worked hard but I have also watched my daughter learn her lines and sing all the songs she’s been learning and she was upset when I told her I couldn’t go and see it. Ok the other hand I am a nurse and I have witnessed what covid does to not just the elderly but healthy adults.”  – Jo Spratt

School cluster director of business and community strategy Jo Tuttle explained:  “The schools have been put in a position of having to make some very difficult decisions, looking at the size of their venues and the number of cases in their communities.

“The Christmas events come under education rules which are different to the high school’s show which follows theatre restrictions, such as insisting on mask wearing and test results, which makes it safer. And we have added in other measures such as cutting our normal 500 seats to 350.”

Aylsham High School

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