A PRIMARY school has said its overall aim is to make school productions inclusive for all students, after pulling a musical on Charles Darwin due to parents’ concerns.

A small number of parents contacted Hartford Manor Primary School with concerns over plans to perform Darwin Rocks as this spring’s Year 3 and 4 production.

Despite claims of censorship from some parents, headteacher Simon Kidwell has told the Guardian that he had not felt pressured to ditch the script, but did so after it emerged that some parents would not let their children take part.

Mr Kidwell said: “Every year we do a Year 3 and 4 production, which is a musical and gives children the chance the learn some songs and do some acting, and the team chose Darwin Rocks.

“Two weeks ago I had some parents contact me because they were concerned about two things. One of the songs was about ‘bumping and grinding’ which they didn’t feel was inappropriate.

“The other thing was a scene that these parents felt ridiculed or caricatured the Bishop Wilberforce, and the inference to the stereotype that you can’t be a Christian and a scientist.

“The parents are very reasonable people who I have known for a long time. They weren’t pressuring me to change the production, but said they wouldn’t allow their children to be in it.”

Rehearsals had not yet started when Mr Kidwell announced in the school newsletter that the children would instead perform Porridge, a musical based on traditional tales.

He added: “I raised the issue with the teachers and we decided that we would do something else. We could have edited it, and if I had my time again I wouldn’t have made a hasty decision.

“My issue was that I didn’t want to put on a performance that some children couldn’t do. I wanted it to be inclusive.

“We hadn’t yet started rehearsals, and we communicated the change to the children and parents. I had parents who weren’t happy with the decision, and they came to see me face to face. They left disappointed, but understanding why we had made the change.

“We do teach about evolution and Charles Darwin – it’s on our Year 6 syllabus and none of the parents are uncomfortable with that.”

Mr Kidwell and members of teaching staff took the decision, with no input at any stage from the chair of governors.

The partner of one parent whose child attends the school said: “I am fully in support of free speech and religious freedom, but in this instance, I feel that a bad choice has been made for entirely the wrong reasons.”

They added: “To put it as plainly as I can, it is my opinion that the complaints are simply a pretence by which these individuals can further their own Creationist agenda – an agenda which seems to be solely dedicated to refuting scientific fact in favour of a very narrow faith-based opinion.”