UK,12 Dec(Telegraph)-Teachers are not discussing Father Christmas in the classroom amid fear of offending pupils from other faiths, according to a report.
The religious diversity of some schools has prompted staff to question the "appropriateness" of the story, it was claimed.
Some pre-school and infant teachers said they were reluctant to discuss Santa Claus because they taught Jehovah's Witness children.
Another said she avoided Father Christmas because it was a "lie that he visits".
More teachers told researchers that they cut him out of lessons because of the demands of the National Curriculum.
"We don't want to overload the curriculum with Christmas," one said. "Not enough time."
The comments were made in a study by academics from Anglia Ruskin University into attitudes towards Father Christmas among parents and teachers.
They found most adults used the story's to excite children about Christmas and introduce them to values such as tradition, courteous behaviour, hospitality, letter writing and pretend play. But some teachers were reluctant to over-emphasis it at school.
It comes just days after a supply teacher was axed by one primary school after telling a class of seven-year-olds that Santa did not exist.
At another school, parents reacted with anger this week after two Jehovah's Witnesses told a group of eight-year-olds that Christmas was "pagan". The school's head defended the decision, saying it had a duty to "celebrate a diversity of faiths".
Professor Theodora Papatheodorou, who led the study, said: "Parents were much clearer on their views and the freedom to indulge in the myths of Santa due to the goodwill of the story.
"This was is in contrast to teachers who, for professional reasons, feel quite unsure whether the story has a definitive place in the classroom.
"The overriding factor for all concerned is that it does teach children about sharing and kindness but political correctness has changed the dynamics of the classroom and in this instance it is hard to agree that it is positive."
Researchers quizzed 169 parents and almost 100 teachers as part of the study.
They found overwhelming acceptance of the Father Christmas story, rejecting notions that it encouraged children to lie, trust strangers or devalued their intelligence.
But the study revealed reluctance among some teachers who taught children under the age of eight to "indulge" in the tradition.
Many blamed demands of the curriculum, although this did not get in the way of the Nativity.
"Religious education being part of the curriculum justifies professionals' reference to the nativity, but not to Father Christmas," the study said.
One teacher told researchers: "Personally, I don't think that belief in Father Christmas is healthy as it is a lie that he visits. I felt betrayed and cheated as a child when told the truth."
Another said: "I don't feel it is appropriate to celebrate Father Christmas in school. It is a personal thing for families in the home."
Others were reluctant because classes contained pupils from other faiths.
One said some children were "Jehovah's Witnesses and Exclusive Brethren, so I limit non-secular themes to specific times."
Another said: "Some children may believe in Father Christmas whilst others do not, so [I] try to approach it so that no child's beliefs are scorned by others." (By Graeme Paton, Education Editor Last Updated: 2:05PM GMT 12 Dec 2008)