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to think that closing schools actually isn't necessary at all?

(221 Posts)
manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 11:12:46

I fully accept that I might be and I have several pros and cons in my head. Just interested in others' opinions.

Where I live we have had a lot of snow. Not all roads are clear. The school is in a rural area. 50% of staff and 80% of children live between 10 and 60 minutes drive away. We are open (due to our 20% of boarders) and only 2 staff members and 14 children (out of about 40 staff and 350 children) are absent.

The children were under no compulsion to attend (email just said come if safe) but they have made it so AIBU to think that closing for almost all other schools should not have been necessary?

Cons (reasons I think I might be BU):
*we don't very often get snow like this so maybe the children are gaining more by being at home and getting the chance to play in it.
* if all schools opened then the journeys might have been harder than they were and maybe it wouldn't be possible to get in (ie maybe it was only ok for us because the roads were quieter)
* For staff who are nervous drivers there is an awful lot of judgement
* The children who don't make it in are getting behind through no fault of their own.

Pros (reasons I think I am not BU):
* the children continue to get their education
* the children are with their friends and have all the grounds to play in all together (we have an organised snow fight and a sculpture competition today for eg)
*'community spirit and British reslilience' and all that jazz!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 21-Jan-13 11:17:45

On Friday only 51 one of the 500 pupils at DD's school made it in. The teachers took them outside to play, but they talked about what made the snowballs stick, they took a microscope to look at snow flakes and they ran about. Oh PE, Maths (symmetry) and science all going on while playing in the snow. It is possible to play in the snow and learn at the sametime.

bollywoodfan Mon 21-Jan-13 11:28:23

The roads are so clogged up with school runs on normal days, that it would be impossible & dangerous in weather like this. In the past people would have lived nearer to their school/work which is not the case anymore. If schools don't shut it causes more problems for people who really do have to be on the road, so yes, I think it is necessary.

manicbmc Mon 21-Jan-13 11:33:27

In the winter of 1947 there was so much snow that people had to dig tunnels through the snow. Schools didn't close and people went about their business pretty much as usual. There was 5/6ft of snow in some places.

I can understand Special schools closing where lots of pupils rely on school transport and come from a fair way off but don't think other schools should shut at all.

Startail Mon 21-Jan-13 11:33:43

If only it was that simple, no safe pupil teacher ratios, no health and safety. Children who could be trusted to have a 'nice' snowball fight. Not use it to settle scores.

Big enough cloakrooms that wellies and changes of shoes and dry clothes were a sensible option. DDs primary was so tiny that things fell of pegs onto the wet floor, no air circulation, nothing dries at all.

As a child we had wonderful snowy days at primary school, but we were an ex secondary modern site. Most of us walked to school, the DCs who didn't were farm kids and most had land rovers, ancient working ones, but 4 wheel drive all the same. The head and deputy lived by me (1/4 mile from school). The reception teacher was the DHTs wife, several other teachers lived in town. All the dinner staff did.

School had playing fields and a bank to sledge down. If you didn't want to throw snow balls you stayed in the yard.

We had pegs all along long corridors and big radiators under the windows we could dry our gloves and coats and do it again at lunch time.

No OFSTED to do school for attendance if anyone couldn't get in.
No OFSTED to give a monkeys if we had extra long breaks to enjoy the snow.

Theas18 Mon 21-Jan-13 11:35:40

I favour closing schools to avoid the awful gridlock that happens here in the city- that means people who " really have" to be in work have a much worse journey. I know child care is an issue but still.

DH school opened Fri. They spent a looong time out in the snow learning too.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 21-Jan-13 11:35:43

It depends on so many things.

Ultimately it has to be up to individuals if they want to make their journey into school when there is a higher than usual risk of injury, and people's circumstances vary so much.

The road I live on is literally like an ice rink. It hasn't been gritted and because the cars flattened the snow and then froze it's worse to walk on than the pavements are. I have a car that can cope with it, but if I still had my old little corsa I wouldn't have done. Yet about 2 minutes (if that) walk away, there is a bus route, the roads were gritted and are fine.

I don't think people deserve either criticism for not making the journey, or praise for living in the right road and having the right car that makes the journey doable.

And if enough staff and pupils don't want to or can't make the journey, then it seems pointless opening.

scaevola Mon 21-Jan-13 11:39:27

If a school has a boarding component, then there will be resident staff (teaching, janitorial and other) 7 days a week. This makes a huge difference to confidence in the basic requirements such as staff ratios, heating, catering etc.

Startail Mon 21-Jan-13 11:40:52

Our senior school did shut for a week in the big snow of the early 80's.

I'm guessing over 60% of us came by bus, at -15°C at midday salt didn't work. They got the snow plough through and land drovers could brave the main road just after a couple of days, but all other roads were under 3ft drifts rapidly freezing solid.

No point in school opening because so few DCs would have been inestimable they would have had to teach it all again.

Startail Mon 21-Jan-13 11:41:52

Inestimable ??? In

manicbmc Mon 21-Jan-13 11:46:13

Ours was the same during the 80s snow. Lots of people came by train and bus and so it didn't open for about 2 days while it was really bad.

I tried telling some kids at school who were complaining about the cold and having to go out (they all had boots and coats etc) about the -15 and still having to go out but they didn't believe me! Damn kids. grin No stamina these youngsters.

skratta Mon 21-Jan-13 11:50:05

It really depends. My DC have their school closed. Boiler broke down. It originally broke halfway through Friday, so they wore coats, gloves hats etc; on Friday there were three accidents due to ice and snow on the road leading to school, another two on roads close to the school. Buses were cancelled, and after phoning the school to find out if it was open, I was told that only five teachers actually managed to arrive. On Sunday, an air ambulance landed on the school field to airlift a man who had slipped on ice, and broken his leg with suspected neck and skull injuries. It wasn't safe enough for an ambulance to come, as well as the neck, skull injuries. It turns out he had concussion, and also broken his wrist as well as his leg. A man broke his wrist today, when he fell while I walked behind him, the school was already closed by then though.

The snow is quite high here, and because of where we are in the town, three roads in total have been cleared locally. I think seeing as it was impossible to drive, get a bus, cycle and very hard to walk or push a pram in, and as most of the roads weren't cleared, including the school road, not to mention the boiler, it was really the only option, to close the school.

manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 12:53:29

scaevola - yes, our boarding contingent and on site staff is the reason why our school is open but the fact that almost all our non resident staff/day children with up to an hour's drive have also chosen to come in is the reasons I'm questioning why schools shut in general We could have had a school day with the 50 or so boarders and 10 resident staff quite happily. But everyone else is here too. So clearly travel is possible.

manic - yes, if children are relying on transport to be running it's different. But I would question whether the transport really needs to stop running. I don't know exactly what radius special schools take their children from but is it really that much more than an hour?

Broken boilers is totally different, you'd have to close (I guess we'd have to take our boarders out somewhere while it was being fixed!)

nokidshere Mon 21-Jan-13 13:04:29

It depends really doesn't it on so many different scenarios.

Its easy to say that when I was young the schools were open no matter what but, after 47 years, who knows if I remember correctly or not!

My children would not have gone to school on Friday regardless of wether it had been open or not. We made the decision long before we got the text to say it was closed. We are 7 miles away from the school and we couldn;t even get off the drive to reach the (clear) main road.

Its not an issue often enough to warrant being concerned about to be honest. We have only had snow bad enough for closure twice in the 9 years we have had children at school.

ddsmellysocks Mon 21-Jan-13 13:11:15

It depends on so many facts but I am in favour of schools closing having suffered a car being written off due to ice and also know of someone who fell badly and still suffers now three years later and so therefore do her children. Is your journey vital - no not for an education where the school may only be able to sit kids in front of a dvd when they could be doing more at home.

Dawndonna Mon 21-Jan-13 13:14:26

Winter of 63 schools closed.
I live at the bottom of a 1:4. I do not have a 4x4 and the dcs school is nine miles away. The bus stop is 2 miles away but the buses aren't running. The school is in fact open, because a fair few from the village are able to walk there, and some teachers live locally.
The difference is, when I was younger, you went to the local school, usually the one within walking distance. Generally speaking, the staff lived locally too. My mother ( a headteacher) could walk to her school. Also, there was a reciprocal arrangement, if you couldn't get to the school at which you taught, you went to your nearest school. Things have changed, so schools are not open as often as they were, and CRB checks are usually only valid for one school, so no swapping can be done.

Brideandgloom Mon 21-Jan-13 13:21:21

YABU.

DD's secondary is closed today, it shut about an hour ealry on Friday. It is a rural (tiny) school at the top of a stepp hill down country lanes that don't get ploughed and often not gritted. The school buses cannot get through when the snow turns to ice and most of the pupils rely on the school transport.
DD's journey is 45 mins to an hour on a normal day, in icy conditions this is much longer with no guarantee of the bus getting through.

The site itself has to be clear and safe for pupils, there is just one caretaker, we do volunteer to clear the site but that is dependant on volunteers being able to get there.

Young people with special medical needs are less likely to be able to come in if we have very cold weather as if they have additional medical needs it is too much of a risk to their health to be exposed to very cold weather.

ChiefOwl Mon 21-Jan-13 13:22:59

If we could have walked to school easily (we are about 2.5 miles BUT no pavements on at least half the journey) then we would. The conditions of the roads here are not good.our school is closed anyway.

I think it is more difficult where both parents work and are expected to be in the office or wherever. I am at home, so makes no difference to me in mine go in or not.

LaQueen Mon 21-Jan-13 13:27:56

Thankfully, our DDs school is open (yet again) despite being in a very rural area, and located in a small vilage which is itself at the end of a very long, un-treated country lane.

Thankfully, our HT is old-school, no-nonsense and doesn't believe snow should stop a child going to school. She's very much of the 'If you're cold, then run around faster' mentality grin

We knew on Friday that the central heating was playing up. This morning we got a text telling us school was open, but for the children to forgoe uniform and dress warmly as the boiler still isn't sorted. All very sensible.

The school just down the road, despite being in a busy, well serviced village with much better access, and no heating issues, is closed yet again (much to parent's annoyance) despite many of the staff living nearby.

I think the atmosphere/ethos of a school is very much determined by the HT's attituide and personality - our HT is very, very pro-active and positive, and very down to Earth.

And, yet again I'm so thankful our DDs attend her school, and not the school in our actual village (which, yes they could walk to, but which closes at the drop of a hat).

Pancakeflipper Mon 21-Jan-13 13:29:20

I grew up in a rural area and can not recall a day off school due to snow.
But we went to the local school and walked and majority of staff were in a 4 mile radius.

Its different now. Our school is mainly local children. Teachers now tend to not live in catchment areas. And it's not just teachers not making it in, it's people like the dinner crew. Kids need feeding. Food needs preparing. Need food deliveries which is all with large companies who tender for contractd - not local suppliers anymore.

SpottyBagOfTumble Mon 21-Jan-13 13:34:39

We all walked past our closed school to go sledging! grin

Ploom Mon 21-Jan-13 13:38:02

12 inches of snow fell yesterday evening where we live - the school bus came this morning & the school was still open.

Easy to guess that I dont live in the UK wink.

happynewmind Mon 21-Jan-13 13:42:10

Me and my dad were talking this morning, neither of us can recall a time when we were off school for a snow day.

I can kind of understand it a bit more for secondary where some of them will be travelling a long distance by public transport but shutting primaries is a bit rubbish.

Its heavier here now than it was last year, dds old school closed, dds current school told me this morning they would not shut unless the heating went or they were at risk of the snow being so heavy they got snowed in.

LaQueen Mon 21-Jan-13 13:43:19

I think it's down to a can-do attitude.

Our DD's school is very rural. But, somehow it's always open. Not all of the teachers live locally, at all. If there's a chance the lunch-crew can't get in - the parents are asked to send a packed lunch in with their child just in case.

On Friday the DDs were thrilled that they got served hot chocolate at break time, one of their teachers had brought in loads of it smile

I think where there's a will, there's a way

BeanJuice Mon 21-Jan-13 13:44:11

YANBU, my dad was saying earlier that he can remember worse winters in his time and he doesn't remember ever missing school

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