Parents have reacted with anger after St Mary’s on the Hill Primary School in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, sent a letter home with pupils on Tuesday, October 6 stating that invitations to children’s birthday parties should not be distributed in school time.
The letter, which was signed by the Acting Principal, Miss Nicola Dougan, reads: “We understand that school is the most convenient forum within which to distribute invitations to parties, however we would ask that you issue invitations to children outside of school time, as it can cause upset and disappointment to some children if they don’t receive an invitation. We hope you understand this situation and we appreciate your consideration in this matter.”
One disgruntled parent, who wished to remain anonymous, commented: “I honestly thought it was a prank when I saw the letter last night. After speaking to a few other parents I realised that they had also received the letter, and it wasn’t a joke.
“It’s like something you’d expect to maybe happen across the water, where political correctness has gone mad, but I didn’t think it would happen here.
“I’m not really sure what the reasoning behind the letter is. It is a fact of life that some people will get invited and others won’t, whether that is as a child or later on in life. Should we not be teaching our children this at an early age?”
The man claimed that other parents he has spoken to about the letter are “outraged” by the school’s position.
Miss Dougan said: “This decision was taken with the children’s best interests at heart, and we hoped that the parents would view it in that context.
“We hoped that people would understand that whilst in principle school provides a convenient forum within which to distribute invitations, in practice it can be the cause of children feeling upset and feeling left out when they are not invited to parties. We only ever have the children’s welfare at the centre of all of our decisions.”
The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools described the school’s decision as “a genuine attempt to be inclusive of all pupils.”
“We understand that some parents have taken issue with a school’s request that invitations to children’s private parties should not be distributed to other pupils during school time. A decision of this nature is entirely a matter for the management of the school and it would appear in this case to have been taken in the best interests of all of the pupils in the school,” a CCMS spokesperson said.
“The basis for this decision was clearly set out as a genuine attempt to be inclusive of all pupils and that was explained to parents in a letter from the school. It is disappointing that someone has sought in the first instance to address the matter by approaching the media, rather than through the school management who would have been able to explain their reasoning more clearly.”