More schools planning to celebrate Christmas through putting on a nativity in 2021

Leading children’s music publisher, Out of the Ark Music, has reported over a doubling in purchases of Christmas nativity plays compared to the same period last year.

In 2020, only 5 per cent of schools put on a live nativity play in person, and 42 per cent of schools did not have a nativity play at all whether virtual or live. The increase seen in nativities being purchased this year is an example of the resilience of teachers, children and parents alike over the last 18 months.

Antony Copus, head of education at Out of the Ark Music, said: “It’s such an encouragement that schools are once again able to celebrate the festive season by putting on a nativity.

“We know nativities have a way of inspiring hope and have seen first-hand the significant impact on children as they experience a greater sense of inclusion, teamwork and confidence. Whether it be a full-school production or a virtual or ‘bubble-friendly’ approach, the angel wings and wonky crowns still shine through. We’re so pleased that nativities are back. It’s just another example of the resilience of schools.”

With the changing landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools found new ways to put on nativities in 2020, some filmed nativities, some performed in different class bubbles, and some performed via signing or using percussion instead of singing. While restrictions placed on schools have been lifted, most schools are hoping to celebrate their nativity in-person, though some are still opting for virtual nativity plays or ‘bubble friendly’ solutions.

Margaret Helliwell, deputy head from Loxley Primary School in Sheffield said: “We recorded the nativity last year and then gave families access to the video, but this year, whilst we will offer an online option, we are very much hoping to have a real life performance instead, if circumstances allow.

“It’s such a great opportunity to perfect performance skills; acting, singing, narrating, and dancing…all wrapped up in a little bit of nervous excitement as the day of the performance draws near! The nativity play is something the children always remember and for parents and carers, it’s amazing how often we hear that it marks the start of Christmas for them.”

Antony Copus, head of education at Out of the Ark Music, said:  “We believe that music, singing and the arts enhance social inclusion, confidence and wellbeing in children, and putting on a Christmas nativity is the perfect opportunity for school communities to take pride in the communal effort they’ve put in.

“Through building teamwork and camaraderie, nativities encourage a sense of celebration and empowerment for all involved, regaining what was lost last year.”

Out of the Ark Music has supplied music resources – including a choice of more than 50 nativities and Christmas musicals – to 18,000 schools in the 32 years they have been operating. While the increase has been seen across the whole range of their nativity resources, the ‘Early Years Nativities’, designed for the 3–6 age group, make up 56 per cent of sales.

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