College Removes Christmas and Easter from Calendar

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: September 16, 2008

Yorkshire Coast College renamed its school breaks without reference to Christian holidays in an effort to ensure diversity- Christmas and Easter no longer appear on the college’s calendar.

Yorkshire Coast College has renamed the traditional Christmas and Easter breaks in an effort to avoid offending students from other faith backgrounds. The new calendar refers to both holiday periods as 'end of term breaks'. Critics have complained that the college’s decision stems from “political correctness”. For instance, Member of Parliament Robert Goodwill said: “I have heard that some people refer to the Christmas period as the Winterval, which is worse…We are a Christian country and, to be honest, religious tolerance in this country is about respecting other people's religious beliefs. We live in a country where there is a mutual respect for religious beliefs. School terms are traditionally separated by Christmas and Easter and they should be referred to as such. [The administrators] are petrified that they offend the minority but what they are doing is offending the majority.” The college, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England, claims that its decision is in line with Ofsted guidelines and is intended to 'increase inclusion and diversity'. A spokeswoman for the college said: 'Every school and college, wherever located, is responsible for educating its learners who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of cultures, religions or beliefs, ethnicities and social backgrounds. All employees at Yorkshire Coast College are encouraged to closely follow guidelines set out by Ofsted for the promotion of equality and diversity. We constantly review the ways in which we communicate, to ensure that we do not discriminate, and part of those reviews means that we have stopped referring to the Christmas Break and Easter Break and we now have End of Term Break.' However, a spokesperson from Ofstead said: “Ofsted inspection guidance for colleges makes no reference whatsoever to the observance of religious festivals; there is no 'edict' from Ofsted.”