Dear parents. Please ensure you invite the whole class to your child's birthday party.






Primary school is brutal.

Sometimes I still wake up in a cold sweat remembering how in grade four a rumour swirled around that I lived in a Boystown Prize Home and that there was a plastic pathway running from room to room to protect the carpet.

Then there was the time the boys in my grade three class scared me stupid, telling me that if I ever went to see KISS in concert, to be aware the band spat blood at you and would step on your fingers on stage.

And who can forget the time word spread that when I’d been away from school for a week in grade two that I’d actually been in Hollywood making a movie. Actually, I think I spread that last rumour myself. Whatever. The point is – primary school is hard, y’all.

And at no time is this more true than when it comes to the politics of the primary school birthday party. How many of us, at one time or another, watched in tortured anguish as invitations were given out around us. Just not TO us?

I’m having flash backs even now of not being invited to Susie Cornerstone’s grade 6 party that was the talk of the year (mostly because her mother was spotted naked in the morning watering the garden). But I digress. Being made to feel like a social outcast bites. But it’s part of school life along with faking your own notes to get out of sport. Isn’t it?


Well, not for much longer, thanks to a UK school principal Mark Brearey who has instructed parents at Kingswood Prepatory School in Bath to only hand out party invitations when the entire class is invited. Uh-oh. The UK press reports:

A headmaster has told parents to invite the whole class when their child has a birthday party – to avoid upsetting those left out. Mark Brearey says including only a smaller circle of friends is ‘divisive and unkind’ to other pupils.

A letter from the private mixed preparatory school to parents says its Christian ethic is about being inclusive. But yesterday critics said his policy would only drive up the cost of children’s parties.

Mr Brearey, head of Kingswood Preparatory School in Bath, wrote a letter to parents in which he asked: ‘Please could you avoid bringing any party invitations into school that do not include all children in a particular class or year group. This goes completely against our policy of inclusion for every single child and is divisive and unkind.’

Bec (right) in Year One

To clarify, Mr Brearey isn’t saying that every birthday party must include the entire class. He’s saying that if you want to give the invitations out AT SCHOOL then the whole class needs to be invited.

If you only want to invite a few select friends, he’s asking parents to post or email the invitation to avoid the social humiliation that is the “You’re invited, you’re invited, you’re invited, you’re NOT invited …” tango.

In many ways I’m with you Mr Brearey and I wish someone had told this rule to Katie Silvers who asked me to help her write out all her 14th birthday party invitations and then DIDN’T INVITE ME TO THE PARTY.

What the hell, Katie Silvers. What. The. Hell, LADY?

Not that I’m bitter.

Okay, I’m a bit bitter. But still my question is are we spending far too much time creating fragile egos rather than teaching our kids how to deal with the inevitable feelings of disappointment? There will be sporting teams you don’t make.  School plays you are not cast in. And parties you will not be invited to.

Can we really cottonwool our kids from realising there are parties happening in the world that don’t involve them?


Or is this just basic etiquette? You don’t hand out invitations in front of people who were not invited to your party because MEAN.


Bec with Ava

Let’s go back to talking about me (cough). Ava is about to have her first ever birthday party.  It’s all she can talk about. The games. The decorations. The cake. And the guest list. That bloody guest list.

Ava wants to invite some of her close friends from kindy but her kindy has an unspoken Brearey edict happening. You invite all the girls. Period.  But if I invite all of Ava’s non-kindy friends PLUS all the kindy girls.

And then I add on all their parents (we’re at an age when parents seem to confuse an invitation to a fifth birthday party with a cheese and wine soiree set to a High-5 soundtrack while a tribe of small children burn the house down around them) and the siblings who somehow end up at your house and of course the therapist I am going to NEED to get through this event… well it’s a shitload of people, frankly.

And if they all think they’re getting a piece of the 3-tiered pink castle cake I have to make they’re mistaken.

So right now I’m thinking of keeping Ava’s party to non-kindy friends only. Well, non-kindy friends and a therapist.

Are there politics at your school surrounding birthday parties?  Do you believe in the ‘class party’ rule?