To be very annoyed with school snow policy

(97 Posts)
pouffepants Fri 18-Jan-13 17:47:12

To my astonishment this morning both primary (local) and secondary (8 miles away, closest one) said they were open, despite it chucking it down with snow.

I was pleased, since I figure things should go ahead if possible, so I sent ds (16) out to catch his bus as usual, and got dds ready to take to their school on the way to work. I knew there was a chance that the bus wouldn't turn up, but there's not much you can do about that, I just figured he'd come home again. I knew he had an exam today, but there's no way I could drive him to school at that time. If he came home, I could try to drive him to school late.

So did my school run, and tried to drive to work. My usual route is back roads, and it became obvious that was a bad idea, so I had to go via the town ds was going to. Saw 3 accidents, and after sitting in traffic for 30 mins, and the radio implying from all the delays reported that it would take 2.5 hours to get to work, I gave up and came home.

Found messages from ds when I got home. No bus, but instead of coming home, had gone to his friend's house, by the bus stop. He phoned the school to say he couldn't get in, and they said he must make every effort. He explained no buses, but they said he MUST get in, or he would fail, and they wouldn't reschedule, since the exam was running. Ds' friend's mum said she'd try to get him there since she's a nurse and had to try to get to work anyway. She has a 4x4.

I rang the school, they insisted, he must get in. They then rang back, and said they were shutting at 12, so he must be there before 10. I rang ds, and he was a matter of mins away, at 9.50, would just make it. The school then texted to say they were shutting, and cancelling the exam!

So now ds is in town, with a nurse, who has to get to work. So she left him at the bus station, where he attempts to find a bus, of course there are none, and we're now up to about 6 inches of snow. There are several hundred teenagers at the bus station stranded. So I get a phone call to try to collect him. I said I'd give it a go, but he'd have to start to walk.

So I head back up that road again. Pleasantly surprised that it's improved somewhat due to the volume of traffic over it, more slush, less ice and compacted snow on the main bits. Glad that I manage about 6 miles, and meet ds after he's walked 2 miles, and he doesn't have to walk down the busy bit with sharp bends where he would have to walk on the road way along with the sliding cars.

Now I'm all for carrying on, but isn't it just irresponsible to INSIST that everyone gets in regardless of their personal circumstances, and people's personal decisions about safety?

cuppateaanyone Fri 18-Jan-13 18:21:38

Yanbu. Lack of common sense and disregard for welfare.

Redhelen, you didn't rely on the bbc did you? Wasn't due to hit your area until this evening. (How's it looking now?)

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 18:27:26

Exams can't be rescheduled because some pupils in schools that are open will have taken them. Most schools that were shut today were open for exam candidates. If it wasn't done today it will have to be done in the summer, with the pressure of all of the other exams then and of course rendering all of the revision useless. January modules are gone after this year so it will be a lot easier to make these decisions then.

Our school had to shut at 12:30 because the bus company would not run buses after this point. Those with an afternoon exam had to stay and make alternative arrangements to get home. The two deputy heads are still at school now with a student that hasn't been collected yet.

RedHelenB Fri 18-Jan-13 18:52:38

It is snowing but my point is that on all weather forecasts it has shown as heavy snow at sometimes when it wasn't. It changes constantly!

HoneyStepMummy Fri 18-Jan-13 18:55:40

YANBU! The school is being very irresponsible. I no longer live in the UK and we sometimes get bad snowstorms where I am. Other winters we get no snow. I feel like the UK actually gets more snow than we do. The schools all have a snow plan in place. They tend to error on the side of caution. I feel really sorry for all those stranded teenagers. How on earth are they going to get home? Glad your son's OK.

Rosevase Fri 18-Jan-13 19:01:12

But where were your priorities first thing this morning? An A/AS level examination that presumably your son has spent the previous month at least preparing and revising for, and ought to have been foremost in all your minds over the recent holidays... IMO this takes priority over younger children getting to school. The summer will be a lot more intense and it seems such a shame if people just shrug and say soneone can just retake it then if a student is mentally ready and prepared to take it now.
YWVU this morning if the snow was that bad to expect your son just to cope on his own with the bus/lifts/his exam/getting home again. I'd have got up early and planned the rest of what was a mad day weather wise around the child doing the exam.
Lots of children will have managed to take their exams today.

I think the school was irresponsible, yes. But can I just ask- do schools seriously shut for a few inches of snow? We usually get a few feet of snow and our school stays open. Should our policy change?

cardibach Fri 18-Jan-13 19:07:27

DD stayed at a friends house last night to make sure she could get in for her AS paper this morning as our house is down a very steep and narrow lane. It is not possible to rearrange these exams and the school are right, it would register as a fail if you were not there I agree with Rosevase, his exam should have been your priority this morning.
THe school are only BU if they didn;t let students who were there take the exam. THat is inexcusable.

CloudsAndTrees Fri 18-Jan-13 19:07:41

The email that came from my ds's school said that the exam board would not accept bad weather as a reason for not sitting the exam, so it's not fair to blame the school. Presumably they just didn't want your ds to fail part of his qualification.

I might have been the exam board that changed their mind, not the school.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 18-Jan-13 19:12:30

You can't blame the school for the exam.

the rest is just that schools can't win in these situations.

YABU

KFC, sadly the issue is the roads. We had about 14cm of snow in the end, but it has affected the roads badly. Partly I think because they operate near capacity and therefore it doesn't take much to grid lock them. Of course once the traffic really slows down then not only do the council find it harder to grit them, but also the snow clearance becomes less effective. Cars don't have snow tyres in general so they aren't helping themselves.

Round here by early afternoon the roads were completely jammed in places. If everyone had gone home at once it would have been much worse.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Jan-13 19:36:10

As others have said, the exam takes place regardless. If your opinion is that your DS should take it in the summer instead owing to the weather, then that is your call I suppose, but if the schools made that decision for students on the morning of the exam, it would be overstepping by quite some margin.

Myliferocks Fri 18-Jan-13 19:36:33

My DD sat one of her AS level exam today. Anybody who couldn't get in have been told that they can take it at the end of the school year.

teacherandguideleader Fri 18-Jan-13 19:40:00

I do feel for schools as it is hard to make the decision and whatever decision is made will have people criticising.

My school made the decision to stay open today but it became a nightmare as parents started turning up left, right and centre to collect their little darlings (this is secondary).

I was told to go home due to my journey (I didn't ask since I choose to live and work where I do). On my way out, I was accosted by an irate parent who thought it was outrageous we hadn't shut as she needed to get her DC home.

If we had have closed through the day, I am sure we would have had complaints from parents that they couldn't get home from work to collect them.

On the topic of exams, with AS and A2 modules it is often possible to re-take in June since there are exam sessions running those particular exams. This may not be the case with all exams - January may be their only slot.

Arisbottle Fri 18-Jan-13 19:42:20

But if they retake in June they will be having to revise a lot more at once.

catkind Fri 18-Jan-13 19:52:04

YANBU at all. I was with them up to the point when they changed tack and cancelled the exam after insisting people get in.

YouOldSlag Fri 18-Jan-13 19:57:53

*the exam board would not accept bad weather as a reason for not sitting the exam*- this is a ridiculous rule. They will end up failing people that can't help their circumstances!

The problem is with the UK is that everytime it snows, it's as if it's a massive shock and it's never happened to us before. ALL organisations need to have robust contingency plans and that includes exam boards.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 18-Jan-13 20:02:06

The school Won't have been the ones to cancel the exam.

If the exam was cancelled it will be due to the invigilators.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 20:05:17

Problem is, YouOldSlag, other people in other parts of the country will have been able to sit the exam, so it can't just be postponed. However the modules can be taken in the summer exam session, but of course this is far from ideal as students will have other exams then and will (at least some of them) have prepared for this session.

Lara2 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:08:47

I was pissed off as I took DS2 to school only to find it was closed - they were turning kids (secondary) away at the gate. The text informing us of the closure arrived as we were on our way home! This was at 8.20, school starts at 8.35! I was going to be late for work (teacher at local primary) and panicking when the text arrived from my school saying we were closed 5 mind later- 5 minutes before I was supposed to be there!! Madness! Several staff had struggled in making treacherous journeys only to have to turn round and go back home! The senior management were in at 7.30 and could have made the decision and sent the text then!! They were furious!!!!

Lara2 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:09:58

The teachers who had struggled in, not the management team!

Goldmandra Fri 18-Jan-13 20:15:15

The school should have given shelter to all stranded pupils until someone was there to collect them.

snowybrrr Fri 18-Jan-13 20:38:43

YABU
and comments like this
'their plan was to bully as many students into travelling in' are just plain stupid!
If the student doesn't sit the module in January, they will (usually) be shooting themselves in the foot.They will be doing a qualification in one go, measured against people who are doing it in 2 halves.Now in things like maths where it is an application of techniques that might not be too bad, but in something with lots and lots of factual learning they are putting themselves at a severe disadvantage.
That is why the school are bending over backwards to try and find a way of getting the kids in.
This isn't SATS This is important FOR YOUR CHILD.The poor teachers must be banging their heads against the wall at the attitude of some parents!

IAmLouisWalsh Fri 18-Jan-13 20:51:02

Invigilators can't cancel an exam!

We have exams scheduled for next week and have started contingency planning - they will have to go ahead, so we have identified rooms, key staff who can get in no matter what and spoken to the kids. If the weather is truly awful, school will be shut apart from the exam room.

IAmLouisWalsh Fri 18-Jan-13 20:51:53

Anyway, no more January GCSEs after this year, so we just have to hope no freak snowfalls in May and June.....

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