Wales

Christmas: How does a school put on a panto with seven pupils?

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Media captionThe smallest school cast in Wales

It is among the highlights of the school year, but how do you perform a Christmas panto with only seven pupils?

That is exactly the challenge staff face at Wales' smallest school.

Ysgol Abersoch in Gwynedd has seven full-time and nursery children, aged three to eight, available to choose from for the performance of Cardiau Nadolig (Christmas Cards in English).

Head teacher Linda Jones said: "It's one heck of a challenge, but the children are so excited."

People living in the seaside village of Abersoch, with a population of about 800, are used to doing things on a small scale.

However, for the village's schoolchildren, that means a lot more work when it comes to putting on a modern nativity.

Image caption Scott, eight, is one of only two boys in the school but has a starring role as the postman

The school has seven full-time pupils and two nursery children, though two children are not taking part in the Christmas show on religious grounds.

It leaves the Welsh-language school's only full-time member of staff, Mrs Jones, with a juggling act to get a show on the stage.

She said: "After 30 years of teaching I've got a collection of Christmas pantos, but most of them are for a lot more children than seven.

"It's a lot of hard work because they all have to play a couple of roles. So we've had to do a shortened version, with not so many costume changes.

"We've also got the children to sing a lot of songs so they don't have so many different roles to learn. But they've still got 13 to sing, so they've got a lot to learn.

"But they have done so well that people are amazed there are only seven of them, they sound so good."

Image caption Head teacher Linda Jones is desperate this will not be the school's last Christmas show

Cardiau Nadolig - which will be performed on Wednesday - is a tale of a postman delivering cards with the message of remembering the reason behind Christmas.

The lead role is played by the eldest pupil, eight-year-old Scott, who is one of only two boys in the school. The youngest is three-year-old Melissa.

There has been a village school in Abersoch since 1924.

However, behind the scenes, there is a genuine fear this could be the school's last Christmas show.

Gwynedd Council is considering closing the school, given it is well under its capacity of 34.

The council's cabinet member for education, Cemlyn Rees Williams, said the authority had "a duty" to consider the situation, with projections predicting the low numbers are unlikely to rise over the coming years.

Image caption There has been a village school in Abersoch since 1924

However, Mrs Jones - herself a former pupil - said the school plays a vital role in the rural community.

"It's not just a school, it's right at the heart of the community.

"For those of us staff and parents who are ex-pupils, it's very emotional.

"Fingers crossed this is not the last Christmas show. If it is, we'll make sure we go out with a bang."

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