What garbage: Santa "terrifying"!

Teachers throughout the country [Britain] have been warned to protect nervous young pupils from a terrifying character who could give them nightmares. He is described as having twinkling eyes, a fluffy white beard and red outfit, probably tucked into wellies. He has also been known to utter the expression: Ho, ho, ho. Step forward Father Christmas and latest target of the Nanny State.

Official advice to school staff is that Santa, far from being a friendly figure loved by all children, is in fact frightening. When he pays a visit to the classroom, sack full of presents, highly-strung youngsters should be placed near an exit in case they need to flee in panic. Teachers are also urged to take care when using atmospheric lighting or taking trips to the pantomime as these too can alarm pupils. And they are advised not to arrange competitive Christmas games with winners and losers to avoid upsetting pupils and leaving them feeling they have "underperformed".

In a further assault on festive traditions, it is claimed that youngsters should be discouraged from sending Christmas cards to each other, because they are wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. And for the same reason, if they decide to send presents, they should use old newspaper and wool to pack them instead of wrapping paper and sticky tape.

The advice was posted on the Government's Teachernet website, which receives thousands of hits every month and contains guidance for staff on issues ranging from pay and training opportunities to classroom discipline. Critics described it as the "worst piece of political correctness this year" and accused the Education Department of trying to rob Christmas of its magic....

The advice is understood to have been produced by teachers but approved by Department for Education and Skills officials for inclusion on the website. A spokesman said the suggestions had now been withdrawn. "We fully support the traditional British Christmas. This is not Government policy and was not produced by the department as the disclaimer on the site makes clear."

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