Away in a manger, two crooks stole the bed: How one school decided to change the story of ChristmasEssex school criticised by parents for dumping traditional nativity playCanvey Junior School is staging a 'cops and robbers' themed playOne parent has withdrawn their child and parents have said the play is inappropriate following a number of armed robberies in the town
13:00 GMT, 1 December 2012
A primary school has been criticised after they ditched the traditional Christmas nativity, opting to stage a 'cops and robbers' themed play.
Parents have been left fuming by the school's decision to choose the modernised play, in which their children sing Away in a Manger with a completely different set of lyrics.
The play, which will be performed by 11-year-olds at Canvey Junior School in Essex, gets rid of traditional characters Mary and Joseph, instead focusing on the tale of two violent robbers.
Criticism: Parents have been left furious by the decision of Canvey Junior School, Essex, pictured, to dump the traditional nativity in favour of a cops and robbers themed play. One parent has withdrawn their child from the production
But parents have described the school's decision a 'tasteless' in light of a number of armed robberies in Canvey Island, where the school is based.
Parents have also complained that themes of theft and violence are inappropriate for young children to intake – with one parent reported to have withdrawn their child from the production and complained about the play's content.
One parent, who did not want to be named, said: 'I can't see that this gangster story is going to be better than something from the Bible.
'What are they going to have our children saying 'Sorry Mary and Joseph, but there is no room in the cells'
They added: 'I think it is a little tasteless to stage the play with all the recent reports of armed robberies on the island.
'I don't understand why the politically correct brigade has had to get rid of the traditional story anyway'
The school has defended the decision not to stage the traditional nativity play – a staple in schools across the UK.
Headteacher Janet Vaughan said the play, which has been previously published and was downloaded from the internet, is 'fun' and 'lighthearted'.
Tradition: Canvey Junior School, Essex, has ditched the traditional nativity play that features Joseph, Mary, the Three Wise Men and range of other recognisable characters in favour of a tale about robbers and the police (stock image)
She said: 'The outcome is the robbers are caught
and banged to rights and the true meaning of Christmas comes across very
strongly with a nativity at the end.'
'It is nice to have a fun element to any sort of Christmas production and we always have a religious basis to it as well.
'It is very, very funny and nothing more than a light-hearted version of events.'
Referring to the updated lyrics to Away in a Manger, she said: 'It's nonsense to say the words are anything other than tongue-in-cheek and the children understand that.'
After receiving a parent's complaint, Mrs Vaughan wrote to all parents saying if they had similar concerns their child could be withdrawn from the play.
However, she said despite one child not taking part, other parents have been supportive of the production.
She added: 'Our productions are always absolutely excellent, the kids get such a lot out of it.'
THE TRADITIONAL VERSION…
Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus
laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky
looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus,
asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing,
the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever,
and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children
in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven
to live with Thee there
HOW THE SCHOOL HAS DONE IT
Away with the manger,
Two robbers stole it,
They were called Bob and Bill,
And they were both big twits.
The story you will now hear,
Will amaze and astound,
As you see how these two fools,
Did much clowning around.
Our brilliant story begins,
Not very long ago,
A week before Christmas,
With the streets filled with snow.
The two twits decided,
To rob a jewellery shop,
Stealing rubies and emeralds and avoiding the cops.
They knocked off the jewellers,
Though it was broad daylight,
They stole loads of diamonds,
To their utter delight.
But soon the two twits were,
In complete disarray,
As they'd given no thought to,
How they'd get away