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School stops party invites in class 'to avoid upset'

St Mary's on the Hill Primary School, Glengormley has banned party invites
John Monaghan

A PARENT has hit out at a letter issued by a primary school calling for birthday invitations to be distributed outside of class time.

The letter, sent to parents at St Mary’s on the Hill PS in Glengormley, Co Antrim urges pupils to refrain from passing around party invites during school hours due to the potential for "disappointment" in the classroom.

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Principal Nicola Dougan wrote: "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."

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said he "thought it was a prank" when he read the letter.

He said: "My own children have parties they get invited to and others they don’t. My children aren’t upset about that at all. It is a small lesson in how the world works. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

"If we were to wrap our children up in cotton wool they wouldn’t be prepared for the real world."

The father added: "I have heard of cases where teachers in other places have been handed all the invites and then placed them in with the homework, so that the child doesn’t discover it until they get home."

It is not clear whether a specific incident had sparked the letter, with the father claiming that "other parents I have discussed this with are not aware of any previous problem".

Miss Dougan, acting principal of the Newtownabbey school, told The Irish News the decision was taken "with the children’s best interests at heart".

"We had hoped that parents would view it in that context. We understand that while the school provides a convenient forum, it can also cause upset and disappointment."

She added: "We have our children’s welfare at the centre of all our decisions."

A spokeswoman for the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools 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.”

The issue has previously been the subject debate in England, after the head teacher of Kingswood Preparatory School in Bath wrote to parents asking them to either invite the whole class to parties or issue invitations out of school hours by text, email or phone.

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