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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?

pouffepants Sun 20-Jan-13 22:00:35

Just checked whether they are open tomorrow, and there's a massive message on their homepage.

We are open tomorrow, but will confirm at 7am.

dress in warm appropriate clothes
bring emergency money
bring a fully charged phone
have contingency plans

DO NOT travel if you don't feel it safe to do so

If exams are cancelled, students will not be disadvantaged as there are emergency closure protocols.

I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist. It still doesn't cover what happens if you don't think it's safe to get in, but the exam isn't cancelled. Can't see it happening again though, it hardly ever snows here.

i think there were a lot of complaints by the look of things, and I've heard a lot of people were stuck in predicaments. Apparently quite a few kids walked home down the A27 dual carriageway, which was never going to be a good idea.

pouffepants Sat 19-Jan-13 19:36:35

Sounds just right, deepredbetty.

I wanted to be able to make the judgment call that it was too dangerous/impossible, therefore he would have to retake at our inconvenience/expense. If they could run it for the kids there, then great.

As it was, I was given the choice get him regardless or fail the exam. That seems absurd.

DeepRedBetty Sat 19-Jan-13 14:41:23

Ours announced closure at 6.30 a.m., and told exam candidates to make their way under their own steam if at all possible, and if they couldn't, they would be able to retake in June - exam board rules, not school. The snow didn't really get going until 8 a.m. and by midmorning there were stuck lorries and sliding vans round every corner... continued like this all day. They were still trying to shift one HGV at 9 p.m. So definitely the right call.

It was on the website, on the local radio, and on the school reception answerphone.

All very well organised, and proof that it is possible for schools to get it right.

GoingBackToSchool Sat 19-Jan-13 14:30:42

National exams have to go ahead as scheduled. There's no way schools can get around it. I don't think that they were wrong to insist that he came in, missing the exam would mean that he would have to do it in the summer, becoming more stressful for him (more revision) and more costly for the school/you (schools have to pay for re-sits/my school made sudents/paeents pay for resits).
The school I work in was shut but kids doing exams had to come in. Sucks, but that's the way it has to be sometimes.

IAmLouisWalsh Sat 19-Jan-13 12:30:50

Yes, but if you weigh up the problems caused by cancelling an exam against the risk of allegations of malpractice, I would run the exam every time and make sure it was 'belt and braces' in the exam room - no-one on their own etc etc.

So, our plans if it is dreadful next week for a group of 30 doing a GCSE involve the exams officer, another non-teaching member of staff and me being in the room - I don't teach that subject so would be no help. We are all close enough to get in even if the weather is crap. If I am not able to get in (am furthest away) then another member of office staff will step in.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 19-Jan-13 11:56:56

A teacher can get in to trouble for influnencing the outcome of one exam paper.

In a school where I worked a teacher was fully investigated for allegedly giving one pupil help in an exam.

IAmLouisWalsh Sat 19-Jan-13 11:41:17

If there were enough people there to say cancel the exam, there were enough people there to invigilate.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Sat 19-Jan-13 10:18:15

No, I'm saying that unless you have all the teachers involved engaged in a conspiracy attempting to influence the outcome of an exam would not work.

Not that you are involved in a conspiracy.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 19-Jan-13 09:41:21

Ambrosiacreamedrice

So because you don't know anyone with these worries it must be a conspiracy?

marcopront Costa Rica Sat 19-Jan-13 08:38:57

When I used to work in Birmingham they used to do city wide closures.

One Monday night the person who made the decisions looked at the forecast and declared a closure. So everybody knew and could make plans for no school on Tuesday, we had been sent home early on the Monday and people complained about lack of notice. The forecasted snow didn't come and people complained.

Then they decided to let schools make their own call. On the Friday it snowed again. Our head lived a long way from school, by the time she got to the school and made the closure call it was really late.

goldiehorn Sat 19-Jan-13 08:04:25

Ffs so let me get this straight:

Schools shut (because we are not used to snow in this country and it is very difficult for many teachers and pupils to make it in) and teachers are lazy shirkers who just want to play in the snow rather than educating the future generations.

Schools open (after all its just a bit of snow right? Why should everything come to a standstill!) and teachers are irresponsible and dont care about the safety of the future generations.

pouffepants Sat 19-Jan-13 08:03:35

Because I only have 2 spare seats in my van.

Because the school announced it was open at 8am, as ds had to leave home for the bus, as the snow became heavy.

Even if I had abandoned one child (too young)at that moment I would not have got there for 9.15 (original start time) because the roads were gridlocked. Even on a clear day it takes 45mins at school time to do our 8 mile road because of traffic.

The buses were apparently running, but were stuck on the same roads that both I and the nurse ended up on.

Dh was also stuck in the same traffic in the opposite direction trying to get home from night shift.

There are situations where you CAN NOT get somewhere. Why couldn't the kids that were there take it, and the the kids that weren't take in the summer?

Of course, it's a disadvantage to ds, but that's life. I'd rather that than being told 'get in or fail'. I don't know if any of the other kids took risks, but it's entirely possible that people ended up walking up an icy, accident prone dual carriageway to get there.

I think you are at fault. If dd had an exam to sit she would have been my priority, I would have driven her there because as someone who has to rely on country school buses to get her dd to school I know how much they do not get through when there is bad weather. I just can't understand why you didn't drive DS to school and then go drop the others off?

sashh Sat 19-Jan-13 06:18:27

KentuckyFriedChildren

I learned to drive in all conditions in the north of England, I know to set off in second gear etc.

Yesterday I was sent home early as I live 30 miles away and the college was closing at 12 anyway.

The motorway was clear, the back road I took as a short cut on the last bit of my journey was 'virgin snow' and was fine. The difficult bits were getting to the motorway, I skidded on slush at a roundabout, and a final hill which was also pure slush. Both were in built up residential areas.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 22:55:47

Well, I don't know anyone in my school that would worry about invigilating an exam in snowy conditions. You aren't allowed to be on your own for your own subject, as was always the case, so unless you were engaged in a mass conspiracy I think any teacher would find it difficult to cheat in the actual exam.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 18-Jan-13 22:48:51

I haved said that I don't trust teachers, being one myself it would be just a little bit silly.

I am reffering to the usual usual stuff in papers from politicians and the general population. hence my post of 22:37:22

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 22:45:28

Because you seem to think we can't be trusted?

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 18-Jan-13 22:44:04

Why would it surprise me?

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 22:43:08

It may also surprise you to know, BoneyBack, that I help set the questions for the exam some of my students take.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 22:41:42

Controlled assessment is going because Gove is an arse.

ravenAK Fri 18-Jan-13 22:39:13

Our invigilators are mostly dinner ladies/cleaners, so local - they'd be the easiest to get in.

I'd definitely invigilate in an emergency, though, as a teacher. I'm expected to turn up even if school is shut to some/all students, & in those circumstances to teach collapsed classes or whatever, so no problem doing invigilation - workload agreement allows for exceptional situations.

& it would never even occur to me that I could indulge in malpractice.

I've done as much of that as I dare during Controlled Assessment...grin/notreally.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 18-Jan-13 22:37:22

Yet controlled assesments are being phased out due to a lack of trust in teachers by politicians, papers, and the public.

TheFallenMadonna Fri 18-Jan-13 22:31:29

But we do it now, with controlled assessments.

Ambrosiacreamedrice Fri 18-Jan-13 22:30:52

To be fair I only had to do it for a couple of years as I've only been teaching for 10, so I'll bow to your memories of boredom. I do remember how soul-destroying it was to see one of your students slump onto the little exam desk after 10 minutes never to pick up the pen again! Certainly wouldn't stop me being able to do it now in a snow emergency though. I'm pretty sure I could get through it without hissing the answers out, so the exam board (that I mark for!) can trust me. grin

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 18-Jan-13 22:30:38

A few years ago there was a whole host of worry about malpractice in exams, Too much help being given etc. All very silly but brought up by unions and newspapers.

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