CHRISTMAS has come early for a Bury school hit by budget cuts.

The top rated Lowercroft Primary School, Ashington Drive, was forced in May to slash the length of the school day by 15 minutes and make eight mid-day supervisors redundant to plug a £45,000 funding gap.

The school, which is ranked as 'outstanding' by Ofsted, fought back by reducing the lunch break from one hour to 45 minutes and the job of the supervisors was taken over by teaching assistants.

Last Friday, a Christmas Fair at the school, which was organised by the school's PTA raised a much needed £4,000 towards improving the curriculum for its 244 children.

It was capped on Tuesday by the surprise appearance of both Santa who arrived at the school with an elf and one of his reindeer called Lightning.

Head teacher Tess Townsend said: "It's been a tough year and the money raised by parents last week will go a long way to enriching the school's curriculum given the budget cuts and loss of staff earlier this year.

"We have a really strong PTA who are hugely committed to making a lot of money for us, with £2,000 from a raffle and a further £2,000 from the fair."

Ms Townsend said the addition of the the reindeer and elf was a surprise organised by the PTA.

She added: "The event was all very Chrismassy and magical and when the children saw Santa, the reindeer and the elf in the playground, their faces just lit up."

"Santa was asked by one of the children to say what age he was. To which he responded: "How old do you think I am?" Quick as a flash the child replied - 'very old'!