• April 25, 2015


A storm of protest erupted following a report in the Cornish Guardian newspaper concerning a school’s refusal to allow Cornish children the right to attend Padstow’s ancient ‘Obby Oss’ celebration.

The centuries’ old tradition occurs on 1st May annually and involves music and dancing through the streets and Cornish folklorists believe it to be a celebration of an ancient pagan fertility ritual which heralds the arrival of spring.

A link to the article is here:


Having been approached over the matter by others in Cornwall , the Branch has sent the following letter to the school’s Head Teacher:

“Mrs Katie Dalton
Head of School
Bishop Bronescombe CofE School
Boscoppa Road
St Austell
PL25 3DT
23 April, 2015

Dear Mrs Dalton

MRS ANNA JAMES and newspaper reportage: https://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Mum-defies-Obby-Oss-ban-school/story-26366853-detail/story.html

Members of the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League are dismayed to have been informed that a parent of three schoolchildren at your school has been told that she cannot take those children out of school to attend the ancient festival of the ‘Obby ‘Oss in their former home town of Padstow.

The government’s Education Department, however, does give head teachers discretion to permit up to ten absences in any one year in exceptional circumstances, and we argue that such an ancient festival, which forms an important part in Cornwall’s culture, and held on just one day a year, can and should be regarded as exceptional. We contend that, for these children, the day is a valuable part of their overall education.

Moreover, the rights of these children to attend and experience their own culture are enshrined in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM) which includes the Cornish National Minority group.
Article 5 (1) of the FCPNM states that: “The Parties undertake to promote the conditions necessary for persons belonging to national minorities to maintain and develop their culture, and to preserve the essential elements of their identity, namely their religion, language, traditions and cultural heritage.”

Article 6 (1) states: “The Parties shall encourage a spirit of tolerance and intercultural dialogue and take effective measures to promote mutual respect and understanding and co-operation among all persons living on their territory, irrespective of those persons’ ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious identity, in particular in the fields of education, culture and the media.”

Article 8 calls for: “The Parties to undertake to recognize that every person belonging to a national minority has the right to manifest his or her religion or belief and to establish religious institutions, organizations and associations.” We note that Mrs James has stated that she considers the festival in Padstow to be part of her religion, and of her children’s.

Article 12 (1) states that: “The Parties shall, where appropriate, take measures in the fields of education and research to foster knowledge of the culture, history, language and religion of their national minorities and of the majority.”

Article 15: “The Parties shall create the conditions necessary for the effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in cultural, social and economic life and in public affairs, in particular those affecting them.”

The requirements of the FCPNM are applicable to all. The Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League strongly feels that the aforementioned Articles of the FCPNM are entirely relevant to those of Mrs James and her children, and that your school should abide by those requirements.

We therefore strongly urge your school to reconsider its position, and to permit Mrs James to take her children to this momentous annual event which is central to their culture.

We look forward to your confirmation that your school has done so.

Yours sincerely

Michael J Chappell
Branch Convener
for and on behalf of the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League”


The Celtic League main website is at: https://www.celticleague.net/


(Prepared for CL News by Michael Chappell)

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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