Santa Claus does not exist' school tells stunned kids
A primary school has been accused of spoiling Christmas for pupils after a lesson telling them that Santa Claus does not exist.
The blunder came after the Year 5 pupils were given seasonal worksheets containing various festive classroom exercises.
One began by informing the children that 'many small children believe in Father Christmas'.
It then went on to explain that thousands of letters sent by these children to Santa every year are actually answered by the Post Office.
The youngsters were then asked to write a pretend letter from the Post Office to a child explaining why their requests for presents had been refused.
Now Ladysmith Junior School in Exeter, Devon, is accused of taking a decision that should have been made by the parents themselves.
One father-of-two, who asked not to be named, said: "My wife and I make a special effort to keep the belief in Santa in our daughter's mind as we believe it adds to the magic of Christmas for her and her four-year-old brother.
"We even recall her shaking with excitement some years ago when sat at the bottom of our bed rummaging through her stocking.
"What gives the school the right to decide when children should know the truth about such a harmless matter when knowing the truth does take away that little bit of magic?"
"She'll probably figure it out soon enough anyway, but we might have had one last Christmas without her knowing if it hadn't been for the school."
Yesterday the headmistress of the 460-pupil school said she had written to families to apologise and assured them the lesson will not be taught again.
Jackie Jackson said: "Having three children myself, I understand how parents feel.
"The last thing we wanted to do was take away the positive and magical side of Christmas and I have wished all the families a happy time."
She continued: "We can't go back and undo this but I have written to all the families to apologise. It was very unfortunate and a bad mistake. We are not in the business of shattering children's dreams."
Yesterday a spokesman for the Royal Mail confirmed it receives around 750,000 letters for Father Christmas from children around the UK every year.
He said: "They are all forwarded to Santa and we also send a special reply."
The worksheet was taken from the Internet and created by educational charity, the Hamilton Trust.
Yesterday the trust's director Ruth Merttens, defended the content.
She said: "I feel sorry for the teacher concerned.
"But we produce the worksheets and it is up to teachers how they use them in class."
She added: "I don't want to upset anybody but I would say by the age of ten it seems unlikely that a child wouldn't be aware of Santa's imaginary nature."
Last week a primary school teacher was sacked for telling her young class that Santa does not exist.
The supply teacher apparently decided the pupils - some as young as nine - were too old to believe in Father Christmas.
The teacher, who has not been named, is believed to have told the class at Boldmere Junior School, in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands: "All of you are old enough to know there is no Father Christmas or fairies.
If you ask your parents to tell you they will say there is no such thing.
Amanda Piovesana, whose daughter is in Year 5, said: "I am upset because it has taken away a magical part of Christmas for my daughter and a teacher should not have the right to do that. My little girl was very upset."
At yet another school, pupils went home in tears after being told Father Christmas does not exist by a teacher who was telling a class of nine-year-olds how Christmas is celebrated across the world.
Angry parents at Calcot Junior School in Berkshire said the teacher had 'ruined' Christmas for their children.
Mel Barefield, whose son was in the lesson, said: 'The teacher had said to them that Father Christmas wasn't real, Rudolph was a cartoon character and that Christmas trees come from Germany.'
A governor said: 'It's not just Father Christmas that's the problem. We also have issues with things like the Tooth Fairy.
'From now on when a child asks if Father Christmas exists the teacher should say, "I'm not sure. Go home and ask your parents"'.
Rachel McGauley, 29, whose eight-year-old daughter Shannon is in Year 4 at the school, said: "It is very bad.
"As parents it is for us to decide when we tell our children and some of the parents in that class could have got away with it for another year and now they can't.
"I just hope my little girl does not twig because she is in the year below."
Sam Horne, whose children Keiron, eight, and six-year-old Charlotte attend the school,said: "Mine still believe in Father Christmas, and when I was a kid I did not find out until I was about eleven.
"It is like a loss of innocence. Children should have the right to stay innocent for as long as possible."
In a statement issued through the local Education Authority, Devon County Council, head Mrs Jackie Jackson added: "The choice of this worksheet was a genuine mistake by a teacher which we are all very sad about.
"As a school we delight in the magic of childhood and believe that Christmas is a very special time.
"In the last week the children have been enjoying carol singing and a Christmas fair and, in the true spirit of the season, raising money for children at the Ugandan school which we support.
I have apologised to the parents and this worksheet will never be used in the school again."