To wish the head would decide tonight?!

(182 Posts)
PenguinBear Sun 20-Jan-13 19:11:06

Our head doesn't like to close (fair enough) so staff are
expected to be in as normal unless he has a change of heart in the morning. All the other local schools are shut. 2 of us live in the same village so we are travelling in together at 7am as we think it could take a long time to get there, even though we've been told by colleagues in the place where we work that roads are dreadful!

So the DC will also be in, although would rather not put them in the car if we could avoid!

It has snowed continually throughout the day and there are no signs of it stoping any time soon. AIBU To want the head to decide tonight rather than wait till 7am?

PenguinBear Sun 20-Jan-13 19:11:40

Stopping*

tiggytape Sun 20-Jan-13 19:13:56

YANBU - we haven't been told yet either and it would make life much easier to know tonight. Realistically we've had tons of snow and the temperature isn't set to top zero until much later in the week so there's no way it'll thaw just yet. Of course they avoid closing and want any decision to be viewed as one based on conditions in the morning but there's no way it is going to be any safer in 12 hours time.

Our Head has said there'll be a text before 07:00 if the school is going to be closed.
It seems sensible to me.

doglover Sun 20-Jan-13 19:15:00

Heads get 'slammed' if they do or don't! I do understand what you mean - am a teacher, too - but they seem to get flack from all sides whatever decision they make!

CloudsAndTrees Sun 20-Jan-13 19:16:14

YANBU!

I have three schools to deal with, two have text us their decision already, one probably won't let us know of closure or late registration until we are half way there tomorrow, going in past experience. She was also the one to make the (by far) latest decision to close on Friday when the snow got really heavy during the day. hmm

I feel your pain.

starfishmummy Sun 20-Jan-13 19:17:49

We had the call this evening. Ds goes to a special school so minibuses collect from homes and it's just not safe for them on gritted side roads.

The deputy head did make sure to say they were "closed for pupils" so I guess staff have to try to get in.

Sparklingbrook Sun 20-Jan-13 19:18:29

I have one open and one 'don't know'. grin YANBU bu the school will be accused of BU whatever they choose. sad

We also have 3 schools, one has already said shut. One 6.30am for news and the other will probably not decide to last minute.

McNewPants2013 Sun 20-Jan-13 19:20:51

I have 2 children school has not decided, they will let the parents know by 8am ( open at 8:30)

CareFactor Sun 20-Jan-13 19:21:53

YANBU. I was just thinking exactly the same about DD's school. They'll let us know in the morning but it would be a lot easier if we knew tonight.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:21:55

I dont think it is unreasonable to want to know now. In 12 hours there is not going to be a miracle thaw, and safety alone should say that you need to know in plenty of time.

What if you attempt the journey and can't get in? The school will have to close anyway!

Our senior school sent a text on Friday "Due to severe weather..........the school will close at 1:20. If this causes problems with transport or childcare, please contact the school".

Time the message was sent? 2pm. hmm

DeafLeopard Sun 20-Jan-13 19:22:00

DDs has sent a text already to say that they are (unusually for them) closing tomorrow.

DS' has a notice on their web saying that they will decide in the morning depending on whether the school buses will be running.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 20-Jan-13 19:23:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:23:46

Our friend is a DCI and he said that the police have the same problem as most teachers and police try to live away from where they work to avoid encountering pupils/crims away from work. In the last big snow we had he worked in our local town for a couple of days but you cant really do that with teachers I suppose, although logically, I dont see why not!

SE13Mummy Sun 20-Jan-13 19:25:53

Three schools here too; the DCs' school is shut (but no-one, including the staff, know why - it's a single storey site, most children and many staff walk, the heating has been on all weekend so it won't be freezing hmm), DH's school is opening late (it's a secondary) and mine (primary) will be open if enough staff can get in - decision to be made at 7am and is largely dependent upon the London transport network functioning from North to South and from Kent to London Bridge.

I prefer to know early as it gives us longer to sort childcare but I am suspicious as to the closure of the DCs' school being to preserve attendance figures rather than anything else.

Sparklingbrook Sun 20-Jan-13 19:27:27

i do wish that once the decision has been made to open that they would post that on the website too.

At the moment it seems as though the only two local schools to have not yet made their decision about tomorrow are the two schools that my DCs attend. YANBU. 7am is too late.

Sparklingbrook Sun 20-Jan-13 19:35:32

I now have two 'open' but to check the website in the morning just in case. grin

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 19:36:01

Bogeyface - I think a similar proposal was made a while ago for teachers to turn up at their nearest school and teach but it was dropped. It would be a bureaucratic nightmare!

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:38:35

What the schools dont appreciate (and never have if the notice given for plays/trips/assemblies is anything to go by) is that we dont all stay at home all day waiting with bated breath for our little darlings to finish school. We have jobs, caring duties, appointments, responsibilities. Far easier to be able to sort childcare at 7pm on a Sunday night than at 7am on a Monday morning!

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Sun 20-Jan-13 19:44:43

Quite Bogeyface
And not everyone has family or friends who can step in at a moment's notice!

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 19:48:23

Last time it snowed, our previous head decided overnight to close - and was slated by parents because the snow stopped and they thought it should have been open - what are they supposed to do?

We've just sent a text to parents saying the school will be open tomorrow 'barring significant snowfall overnight' but that may have to be reversed if it snows tomorrow - on Friday it didn't start snowing here till 8am. Then of course the head will get it in the neck for changing his mind.

Oh, and it would also help if parents actually made sure their contact details were up to date if snow is forecast.....

Bogeyface - I'm sure the school sent the text way before 1.20, but many of the school text services were overwhelmed on Friday and didn't get the texts out in time.

DizzyHoneyBee Sun 20-Jan-13 19:48:26

YANBU, it's much easier to decide tonight.
3 local schools have already said that they are shut tomorrow but no word from any of the 3 schools that I need to know about.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:50:17

Exactly. And throw into the mix unsympathetic employers and it can be awful. I was once threatened with the sack by my boss if I didnt go in when my 4 month old DD's nursery was closed and my 6 year old DS's school was closed. I said I could go in but I would have to bring the kid with me. The irony? She was ringing me from her palatial country pad because she couldnt get in but because I lived in the same town I was told I had no excuse!

DizzyHoneyBee Sun 20-Jan-13 19:52:16

Local authorities should issue all school staff with a photo ID pass (and agencies should do the same for supply teachers) and then staff that are CRB checked by county could go to work in their local school and have their ID verified.
I stopped somebody the other day, complete stranger walking through the school without a visitor badge on; it turned out that they were a supply teacher and were offended that I asked but I didn't know them from Adam.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:54:23

I should add that I handed in my notice a couple of months later due to PND and work stress and she offered me a huge payrise to stay! I didnt wink

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:56:28

Just asked DD and she said that they were all hanging around for first afternoon lesson at 1:10 ish when they were told that they were going home, so I doubt it was sent earlier. There is form from this shool, such as the snotty reminder letter about ParentPay being sent out because they hadnt received reply slps back. 2 days later the reply slips and info was sent out! This was only a couple of weeks ago!

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:04:24

But presumably you wouldn't be best pleased if they did decide tonight to close and then it wasn't necessary - and nor would your boss.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 20:08:07

Personally Rusty I would rather it was that way around as it is easier to cancel babysitters and tell the boss you can make it in after all (assuming that you are not in a job that needs cover arranging), than to tell the boss you cant make it in half an hour before your shift starts!

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 20:13:14

Something I have just noticed about school closures.

On our local radio closures page there was one school in the next town to us that announced it would be closed tomorrow. Half an hour later and all but 2 have announced the same.

Am I being cynical to think that all the heads were waiting for one of the others to make a move in case they ended up as the only school in the town to close? hmm

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:14:25

I don't mean that - if a message goes out that school is closed on Sunday night, the staff won't come in on Monday, so it's unlikely to be reversed. I mean all the threads that get started moaning about schools that close just because of a threat of snow....

blackeyedsusan Sun 20-Jan-13 20:15:05

34 city schools closed... 3 of which I drive past to get to our school. <sigh>

if I could get off the grounds of the flats and the first part of the road I may be ok as it is mainly main roads. there are several steep hills though.

hypermobile dd and asd ds do not make walking easy. the buses may not run. I have nowhere to leave the car if I can't get back up the hills. it is all innercity ringroads and double yellows around here. the bottom of the hills where there is parking are too far away to walk from with children with difficulties. she fell several times across the carrpark ..

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 20:17:13

You have to have a CRB check for that individual organisation. We don't even allow job interview candidates to be given a tour round the school without a member of the school staff present anymore - they cannot be left unsupervised. When I did supply at one point I had four separate CRBs. Teachers and supply teachers move around within a term, never mind a year. And turning up to a random school - no knowledge of the children, the curriculum, school log-ons, data protection, SEN information. Someone would have to co-ordinate it to ensure there the right amount of teachers at each school for the 1000+ kids who go there. It would only take one incident for child protection procedures in a situation like that. Better for schools to close and, yes, give plenty of appropriate notice.

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:18:16

Bogeyface - that's more likely to be the local radio website working their way through the list of closures. It takes a while.

I have just spent 1.5 hours trying to get the news that we will be open tomorrow onto our website - endlessly getting internal server and timeout errors from our website provider's server.

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:20:45

Apart from anything else, if teachers just turned up at their local school, how would that school know how many they were going to get - they still couldn't rely on having enough to open. All it would do is pacify parents who think teachers shouldn't have a 'day off'

Pandemoniaa Sun 20-Jan-13 20:21:04

Local authorities should issue all school staff with a photo ID pass (and agencies should do the same for supply teachers) and then staff that are CRB checked by county could go to work in their local school and have their ID verified.

In ours and the neighbouring county, instructions used to be that teachers should report to the schools nearest their home and work there instead. In truth, it was an idea that was rarely, if ever taken up. Filling schools with an unknown number of random teachers wasn't actually a sensible way to keep them open. Same rule used to apply for more senior local government officers. That wasn't a practical solution either.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 20:21:42

I see what you mean Rusty I would still rather work on certainties than maybe's.

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:24:12

The other thing you need to remember is that if the SMT live outside the town , they won't know what local conditions are like - whether the school site is safe etc. We're lucky as our caretaker lives on site, but not many do.

scrablet Sun 20-Jan-13 20:25:14

Couple of years ago, I was supply, but on a ST contract so turned up at my local school as could not get into school I was employed at.
Poor HT did not know quite what to do with me! However, I did get another ST contract out of that one too. grin

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:25:29

So would we, Bogeyface, so would we.....

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 20:29:12

I would imagine that most schools would have at least a few members of staff who live locally. I am our resident snow checker!

I live almost next door to a primary school and a short cycle ride away from my secondary. The primary feeds into my secondary and I am a familiar face in that school, because I do outreach work there. I cannot see why I and the other secondary teachers who live locally to the primary school cannot be registered to work in the primary school in the case of snow. Most children walk to our primary. This means that most of the children who need childcare could go to school so their parents could go to work. This happens most years now, they need to do something.

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 20:31:42

To be fair teachers should only have a day off if they are severely ill, contagious or there is no way they can possibly get to work. I can't see why they would object to reporting to their closest school, if one is within walking distance.

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 20:41:52

They won't exactly be having a 'day off' though, they just won't be working in school. When we closed at 12 on Friday, all the teachers took loads of work home for the afternoon and in case we were shut tomorrow. Though most of them took so long to get home, they probably didn't get much done on Friday.

JakeBullet Sun 20-Jan-13 20:44:40

Our school is opening but just a bit later than usual....am about to break the news to DSgrin...predicting protest.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 20-Jan-13 20:46:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 20:47:11

Yes I know, I took work home myself for the snow day. However I should normally have been teaching so I was gaining from the extra time that I would not normally have. Therefore it would not be unreasonable for me to not take that extra time and report to a school.

I was being told yesterday on a thread that teachers are almost universally loathed and blamed for societies ills. Not something I have experienced myself, but if that is the case perhaps this is something we could do to repair that image.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 20-Jan-13 20:47:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 20:48:11

Exactly RustyBear! I treated my 'day-off' as non-contact time and did marking and planning.

For the reasons I outlined above, it isn't really feasible, at least under current conditions. Also, to 'turn-up' at my nearest school to teach would be illegal under current CRB and child protection procedures. Lots of teachers live outside of the LEA where they work, and then there are academies, which are outside of LEA authority ... I am a private school teacher, do I go to the nearest state school? Nearest primary school? Again, with no knowledge of the children, curriculum, logon, data protection or SEN information? Who co-ordinates all these teachers? Do the children who often travel from miles away (rural school, almost all come in by bus where I last worked) just go to their nearest school?

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 20:50:16

my school is shut my dc's - undecided.
I spent all weekend planning, as usual, so I have nothing left to do. If dcs's school opens I will volunteer. If not, I will do what I used to do on weekends before I became a teacher - spend time with my family!

marriedinwhite Sun 20-Jan-13 20:52:41

We are waiting for three. DD's will make a decision at 6.30am. Hers is the only one with anything definitive and the least likely to open. I brought work home on Friday.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 20-Jan-13 20:53:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 20:56:26

the likely hood that there won't be deliveries for school dinners.

I hadnt thought of that being an issue. Would that mean they would close if there were children in receipt of FSM or could they ask children to bring a packed lunch?

fairylightsandtinsel Sun 20-Jan-13 20:59:31

The turning up to the nearest school idea is completely unworkable for any purposes other than babysitting. For all the eminently practical reasons outlined by other posters it would be dodgy from a legal perspective and could not possibly result in any teaching worth a damn being done. As for knowing the night before about closures, given the way that snow here tends to be fairly borderline in terms of how bad it is or how it affects the roads, they really do have to wait til the morning. Conditions can change hourly. I teach in an extremely affluent area that very few of the staff can afford to live anywhere near, my commute is nearly an hour on a good day. And if I do have a "day off" tomorrow, I shall be attempting to mark 60 books whilst looking after a 3 and 1 year old. (Books I will otherwise be marking in the evening).

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 21:01:18

suffolk I took my youngest two to school with me on Friday as I was one of the few members of staff who could walk in. They coped, both the school and my children.

I know it is not legal currently but there is no reason why the law can't be changed and that we cannot create a list of emergency cover staff. This could all be arranged in advance and therefore if there is snow in the local area meaning that schools would usually close, the members of staff contact the head of the primary and if there are enough members of staff it could open.

As I said earlier I suspect this would just work for primary children who tend to live within walking distance.

My youngest two children can almost roll out of bed and into school. Instead of going to their usual school ( which had quite few members of staff living within walking distance and certainly enough staff in walking distance if you include those who would usually teach at the secondary) they walked for two miles through deep snow to attend my school! We then all walked back around lunchtime and I sat in my house a few metres away from the closed primary school. In fact I actually hosted about an extra 10 children in my house so that there parents could at least go to work for a few hours!

Yes I know most of us took work home but that was extra time that we should not expect. If I spent the day at my local primary I would not be creating the marking workload that I would do if I were teaching my own classes, so I still have gained time. Everyone is happy.

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 21:02:56

But even if I were only babysitting, and I think to be honest that I could do more than that, what is the harm in that, if it allows parents to go to work. It would create goodwill, the goodwill that teachers need.

School is not childcare but we are being naive if we think it does not play that role.

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 21:04:40

In my department we have simple activities on each scheme of work that a cover teacher can do. They are planned in advance so that ill teachers are not planning cover work and that overworked heads of department are not running around like headless chickens trying to set work.

There is no reason why each primary school cannot have emergency work for such events, it could be planned with secondary staff in mind.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 20-Jan-13 21:05:10

The head at my school has said that we will be open, but the weather report is still for snow and (for the UK) extreme temperatures, linked to that a huge amount of staff travel 30+ miles in so it is by no means certain that we will be open.

So the best that the head can do is that we will try to be open but keep an eye on the usual comms.

Re walking to other schools, my nearest school is a primary and I am not rained for primary, as for the nearest secondary given the turn over of teachers it wouldn't be worth the hassle.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:07:54

The idea that a teacher from a different school couldnt work in their local school is surely rubbish though? Supply teachers manage to cover illness etc at an hours notice. Ok so its not ideal but better than the current system where a country full of teachers who can get to a school cant work because it is not their school, so both schools close.

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 21:08:23

It's completely standard in Scotland to report to your local school if yours is shut. Our employer is the local authority, not the school, so no problem with PVG (CRB) checks.

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 21:12:36

I expect it's different in secondary, but at primary level going to a different school would be just like when I was a supply teacher and no work had been left - I can find out from the children what they have been learning, where resources are, etc., and otherwise I have enough experience to ensure meaningful learning goes on.

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 21:12:43

But Boney you are covering or a few days at most, a secondary trained teacher is better than no teacher. A bogey says supply teachers and cover assistants do it most days.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 21:17:55

Bogeyface - that is one supply teacher to one school - they will be given a pack and a log on and a briefing. Their CRB covers them through the agency.

Hundreds of teachers up and down the country going into random schools? Again, who co-ordinates that in the amount of time needed in a morning to ensure there is enough time to make a safe decision? What if SMT can't get to their school? Do you just have a random head turn up and assume control for the day? Even within one district there are schools that not part of the LEA, pupils that live ages away from their school anyway. Do they just go to the nearest school? Primary schools with a whole group of strange teachers?

I would rather use my unexpected gained time professionally by completing work for my students, than 'babysitting' others in a way that goes against all Child Protection safety guidelines.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 20-Jan-13 21:21:14

Arisbottle and Bogey

Having thought about this again in a slightly more productive manner, its not going into another school that would bother me. As you have both said a teacher is better than no teacher.

My main worry would be the quality of the cover work, If it could be of a guaranteed quality the day/s should run without (much) of a hitch.
(there are only so many posters that you can get a class to draw)

marriedinwhite Sun 20-Jan-13 21:21:52

Interesting isn't it. I am 52. I went to school from 1965 - 1978. I never, ever remember school closing because of the snow. For both primary and secondary I had a 15 minute walk to the station, a 15 and 20 minute train journey respectively and a bus ride (school bus) 5-10 minutes and a 15 walk respectively.

I also remember in the early to mid 80's waking up to a blanket of snow and blizzard and jumping out of bed and dashing out without breakfast because I knew there would be no tubes beyond Putney Bridge and that I would have to walk 20-25 minutes to the station rather than 5-10. 30 years ago I would have been in bad odour had I not made very effort to get to work on time let alone to work at all.

My grandparents were farmers and horsebreeders - they had to look after the animals whatever the weather.

Having said all that I was delighted when my office closed at midday on Friday. I went to the supermarket and got all my Saturday morning jobs done. The DC were home by 2ish too (14 and 18) but it didn't stop ds going across London for a party on Friday night grin.

landofsoapandglory Sun 20-Jan-13 21:21:53

We live in a rural area, and the catchment area for DS2's school is very rural. It is absolutely chucking it down with snow, you can not differentiate between the roads and pavements. We had a snow plough come down the road about 2hours ago and we have had at least 4 or 5 cm fall since then! I can not for one minute imagine the school buses will get through, but the HT will keep us hanging until the last minute.

In the past she has said all Yr11's have to go in. If she says that I am not taking DS2, he doesn't have an exam, I will have to take him, I am disabled and it is a risk I am not prepared to take.

DS1 has an AS resit tomorrow(because he missed an A by one mark first time round) so DH is taking him in and I will pick him up. We have had an email to say if lessons don't go ahead exams will because a few teachers live within walking distance so have no problem getting there for them.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 20-Jan-13 21:22:48

There would also have to be a register of which teachers went to which school.
You couldn't just have teachers randomly arriving.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:23:02

Ok, fair enough, I just wondered.

I personally dont see the babysitting as such a bad thing but then I am not a teacher!

Any idea on my Q about school dinners btw? Just curious.

And what is SMT? Senior Management Teacher? Whats wrong with Head?!

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 21:26:34

There would also have to be a register of which teachers went to which school. You couldn't just have teachers randomly arriving.

There is - we nominate a school in agreement with our HT and the master list is held by the local authority. Head teachers can see who has nominated their school.

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 21:27:59

Bogey SMT (Senior Management Team) covers HT, DHT, Principal Teachers, any senior teaching staff.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:31:25

Thank you. I prefer the old days, less officey! We had to say "Yes Headmaster" "No Deputy Headmistress", but then I started there when the grammar had not long closed and the Head in particular seemed to really resent being Head of a comp, he always wore his Snape style batwings!

stormforce10 Sun 20-Jan-13 21:31:46

LOL just received a text message and email saying school will be closed swiftly followed by an email with attachments from DD's teacher asking her to complete the enclosed maths and comprehension exercises and also learn a list of spellings. Any difficulties please can dd email her for help\?

Apparantly there will be more work to follow on Tuesday if school still closed - oh and could she practice her 2 and 3 times table as there's a test later this week?

She is going to be very unimpressed even though I doubt there's more than 30-40 minutes work there - can't fault teacher for her efficiency bet she wrote it all up earlier and stuck it in drafts ready to send if school closed

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 21:32:46

Sorry, education lingo! SMT - is the Senior Management Team - or SLT - leadership. I work in secondary and that is the name given to the Head, Deputy/ Assistant Heads etc.

I don't know about school meals - I suppose that opens up further questions. Do kitchen staff go to their nearest schools? Receptionists? Caretakers (all the keys?!), SEN staff, Teaching assistants? It's that that I think concerns me most about the 'babysitting' idea. If there are children in my classroom who have an IEP at this random school I have turned up at, I won't know their needs, if they need a TA, extra resources, if they need strict routine, medication etc. Most children would be fine, it would be very stressful for teachers and those children in those circumstances.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:34:06

IEP?

......I could never be a teacher!

Individual Education Program possibly? Is that the same as a Statement?

MerryCouthyMows Sun 20-Jan-13 21:34:21

I'd be happy if it WAS 7am that my school made a decision. They tend not to announce a decision on the radio until 8.15am.

Which is a fat lot of good when I have to leave at 8am.

So, I have taken to makings decision myself, based on whether the public buses I need to use to get them there are running.

If there isn't at least 4 of the eight buses an hour we are meant to get between 6.45am and 7.45am, then we don't go.

School have accepted that I make a sensible decision based on transport issues caused by various disabilities.

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 21:35:40

If there are children in my classroom who have an IEP at this random school I have turned up at, I won't know their needs, if they need a TA, extra resources, if they need strict routine, medication etc. Most children would be fine, it would be very stressful for teachers and those children in those circumstances.

Welcome to my three years on supply, facing that every day!

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 21:38:28

Yes, it's an Individual Education Plan if a child is statemented for having Special Educational Needs. Also called LDP and any other number of initials, they keep changing it. The problem is, all that is strictly under the remit of the school - confidential information strictly for the child/ family and school staff. Random staff turning up couldn't/ shouldn't be able to access that information, which again could lead to sensitive data being compromised or the child's wellbeing undermined due to their normal learning procedures not being followed.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:38:42

Euphemia
As a supply teacher do you think that perhaps it is easy to forget that what is being discussed here as unworkable, is your every day? Is it perhaps because workers in any job get so used to the status quo that they cant imagine being able to work any other way?

Absolutely no trying to start a fight, but interested in your view compared to the teachers above saying it isnt a workable solution.

We've had the texts.
My Yr 6 DD school is closed
My Yr8 DS is on late late start/early finish.
He has a 30 minute walk on a good day.
He hasn't got exams, but alot of the pupils do, so the teachers will need to be there to invigilate.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 21:41:29

I have done that on supply too Euphemia, was lucky to be given a class list sometimes. Never mind a log on for the interactive whiteboard that was the only thing to write on, or a differentiated cover lesson that wasn't just "design a poster..." Or, heaven forbid, a seating plan detailing who was EAL/ SEN etc. And that was one teacher on one day.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 20-Jan-13 21:48:22

It isn't a supply teacher's every day that's being discussed, because a supply teacher has the back up of staff who do know the school and the students. That's what would worry me - the number of unfamiliar faces in the school, and the lack of familiar ones. Some of my students would not respond well to that. At all.

It's not the lack of cover work that would bother me. That I could work with!

Arisbottle Sun 20-Jan-13 21:56:25

TFM if no staff from the primary were able to attend that would be a problem, but is it that likely that absolutely no teachers could attend? In addition people like TAs tend to live locally, and they tend to have very good knowledge of the children.

Cherriesarelovely Sun 20-Jan-13 21:59:21

Headteachers cannot win. I really understand people's frustration with childcare. We have been asked to have a friends child if their school is closed but can only do so if mine and dds schools are closed too! However, there is no way of knowing what tbe roads will be like in the morning and people here get really angry if schools get it wrong.

Cherriesarelovely Sun 20-Jan-13 22:03:02

Randomn staff turning up would be nuts! How could you possibly do CRB checks etc?

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 22:03:49

A school is a community - caretakers, cleaners, site staff, receptionists, administrators, SMT, SEN staff, do they all head to their nearest school? Legally children have to be catered for. Do the teachers have to cook as well?

This seems to assume that enough of the children can get into these schools that their teachers can't get too ... and then there is a bunch of strangers there waiting for them. Or do any and all teachers and children just head for the nearest school and make something of the day? In both cases, contravening all Child Protection and current data laws held so strictly the rest of the school year.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 20-Jan-13 22:08:37

True, many TAs would probably be able to attend. But whether they would be able to manage the behaviour is another issue.
I know the chaos there is at the start of the day when the major road in our region is running slow. Around 2/3 of our staff use it. Few live in walking distance.

I appreciate that this is not necessarily an issue in all, or indeed most schools. But I really think it would be in mine.

I don't live within walking distance of any school except my DD's primary. Which would be lovely, but also very overstaffed, as there are the giving away of teachers living in my village.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 22:09:47

Actually, never mind if a child protection incident happens, and one of the designated Child Protection Officers isn't on site, or first aid and there is no school nurse, or data gets compromised somehow, or FSM children and no catering or safeguarding for them. Just no way. Completely unworkable.

fairylightsandtinsel Sun 20-Jan-13 22:10:44

Supply teachers are a totally different thing from teachers going to their local school on a snow day. (I am talking about secondary by the way). Any supply teacher can go the room next door and ask the regular teacher about anything she / he needs to know. If most of the staff don't know their way around, don't know the lesson timings, don't know the discipline procedures, don't know what resources there are etc it really would be a waste of the majority of their and the pupils' time, and as others have said, teachers have children too, whose schools may be closed and therefore they can't go in either.

Kiriwawa Sun 20-Jan-13 22:11:18

Our school is apparently open which I think is a tad optimistic - we have masses of snow and while most pupils/teachers will be able to walk in, it's forecast to be -2 tomorrow morning at 8am so really not great driving conditions if you live a bit further away.

I know from bitter experience that it's going to talk us about 20 mins to walk to school and we only live 1/4 mile away because the pavements will be impassable and the roads will be sheet ice

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 22:12:26

I'm just surprised by people saying it's unworkable, as it's normal in Scotland. It's not ideal, but it works.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 20-Jan-13 22:13:00

Surely the fact that teachers aren't distributed evenly in where they live, let alone if they have pre-schoolers whose childcare might be unavailable, would make a "just turn up" scheme pretty unworkable - lots if teachers in one place and few in another, maybe.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 22:14:52

I am just a little hmm at so many saying it wouldnt work, when it works in Scotland. Presumably they have safeguards in place regarding SEN/Child Protection/Data Protection/First Aid etc.

I just dont see how, if it works North of the border, it cant work in England and Wales.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 22:17:42

I would imagine, from what was posted above, a Head can see whether there will be enough staff available to open.

So a teacher who works in Town A but lives in Town B can nominate to go to school B, but school B's head can see that there wont be enough appropriate staff to open safely, so stays closed.

But a teacher living in Town A who works in B and nominates school A could go in because there are enough staff.

ArkadyRose Sun 20-Jan-13 22:18:08

DD2 is a student at the BRIT School in Croydon - which apparently is going to be open, but seeing as she lives in Highams Park and there are no trains running between Chingford & Hackney Downs & all the local buses have been affected, it's going to be nigh impossible for her to get there. The school has said pupils who call before 8:30am will be registered as studying from home though, so she won't get an absence mark if she can't make it in. DD3's school hasn't updated their website since Friday though, so we still don't know if her school is open or not. It's ridiculous though - it doesn't take 5 minutes to log in to the website and put up a notice to staff & pupils, and it wouldn't take much longer than that to update the lglf.org.uk site for London school closures! I suppose we'll get a text in the morning, but I'd far rather be able to make plans tonight.

LivingInAPinkBauble Sun 20-Jan-13 22:20:31

Apparently here in Norfolk at least that used to be the system - you turned up to teach at your local school. Seems this was when heads lived in attached school houses or nearby and would get in to supervise staff.

Wouldn't bother me if that was the case, can walk to 2 schools at least from here. Would rather that than my usual commute which is 35 miles each way and at the moment is taking at least 2 hours each way. My school has not had the snow I have so I have been in even though those round me were shut from Tues onwards not bitter at all!

I too would like to know, will be leaving at 6am tomorrow and there is no way a decision will have been made but if I leave later I will definitely be late. Schools really can't win though.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 22:20:59

Euphemia, you mentioned your employer is the Local Authority, not the school, I imagine that might be one reason why it works maybe. It is not always the case in England and Wales - increasingly so in fact. I know that you have a separate curriculum/ education system, so I can't really comment generally.

PeneloPeePitstop Sun 20-Jan-13 22:21:56

Ds1's school is the only primary in town to open. There's black ice out there and have heard of numerous accidents tonight. Not looking forward to attempting that drive (too far to walk, used to live round corner but moved).

cricketballs Sun 20-Jan-13 22:22:47

My head is notorious for not making a decision! Friday for example, the forecast was well know, the vast majority of our students travel on school buses....a bus driver actually told the head on Friday morning that he was turning around with the kids on his bus and taking them home as he knew that the journey would be impossible within a couple of hours. The snow kept falling and falling and he was laughing at the other schools closing so early; by 11am he finally realised that the situation was dangerous for the students and staff and had to contact the parents of those who had made it in.

I for one wish he will make the decision sooner rather than later; that way everyone will be safe, my students will have work emailed to them whilst I sit on my laptop marking the everything they send to me (which I did on Friday afternoon so no slacking for me or my students!)

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Sun 20-Jan-13 22:24:21

On the Welsh news just now one head text parents to ask them to spare an hour to clear the schoolyard today - bring your own snowshovel. We'd have been there like a shot if the head of our kids, school had asked. That said, it's very unlikely that teachers from their school would actually be unable to reach the site where we are.
DS3 s school is likely to be closed because of ice on the yard

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 22:24:45

Exactly, Bogey.

I work in a town much more likely to be severely affected by snow than where I live. There's a very real possibility my school would be closed but the local one open. If I turned up and all the teachers had made it in, the HT would most likely send me away. If some teachers hadn't made it in, I would be put into a class. If fewer teachers turned up than legally required, the school would have to close.

It's a far from perfect system, but at least it attempts to keep as many schools open as possible, which is surely preferable to all schools in the county closing just because a few have had to.

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 22:26:55

Sparkly I wasn't sure how things worked in England, but I had a feeling teachers were employed by schools rather than the local authority. I can see how that would complicate matters! smile

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 22:27:29

I live in a village so I know the local children and used to work at the local school so def would offer to help if I could. However, no need - they just shut!

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 22:28:11

I am employed by the LEA

scaevola Sun 20-Jan-13 22:34:51

Our secondary school has a notice on its website saying that it will be open for all who reach it; also information on when/how the company which provides the coaches covering the outliers will notify if it is running.

The primary, which made a Big Deal a couple of years ago about snow day communication via its website (which irked me then as it was before I had a smartphone) has nothing on the site whatsoever (either left over from Friday's early closure, or giving info on when/how a Monday morning message might emanate).

RustyBear Sun 20-Jan-13 22:36:24

"It's ridiculous though - it doesn't take 5 minutes to log in to the website and put up a notice to staff & pupils"

As I said above, ArkadyRose, it took me over 1.5 hours to get on to our website to update it - nothing I could do about that, the website provider's server kept timing out, probably because of increased traffic. I will be getting on to them about it tomorrow, but that doesn't help tonight....

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 22:38:46

Now I think about it, school posts used to be advertised by the LEA with a note as to which school it was for, but now they are advertised per school.

But still, surely a centralised register could be used by all schools that wish to opt in?

2kidsintow Sun 20-Jan-13 22:40:33

Our head has already stated on the website that we will be open. Considering the forecast, and the fact that not one member of staff works within walking distance, I think that is fairly optimistic.

Unfortunately the head has the opinion that to stay open is to "offer a service to the community" i.e. specifically babysit the children so parents can go to work.

My worry is that the notice will prompt many parents who might have otherwise checked tomorrow in the morning through the proper channels (county website) whether we were open (depending on the number of staff who have been able to infor the SMT whether they are able to safely get into school) to just set off regardless.

If enough members of staff haven't been able to get in, those that do could be struggling to effectively supervise (never mind teach) those children who do turn up.

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 22:45:19

It's interesting to here how it does work in other places, thank you Euphemia smile

I live in one city and work in another - two LAs away from my school in fact! Within walking distance from me is a Special School (couldn't work there legally), two private schools, a Steiner School, some nurseries (don't have the qualifications) and a state school which is now an academy, and hence the staff there are now directly contracted by the school. We also have a Free school that opened this year, and I have no idea of the legalities of that. I don't have a CRB that is valid for any of these schools and as I am employed by a private school myself who knows what the legal position is. There are too many variables overall I think, in the current system, given the increasing disparity of educational provision within each district, never mind nationally.

wherearemysocka Sun 20-Jan-13 22:45:35

Even if staff can make it to their local school, you still have the problem of trying to supervise an unknown number of students with no clear direction of where they should go or what they should be doing.

Students would quickly realise that the majority of teachers don't know their names and have virtually no sanctions at their disposal should they behave dangerously. It's hard enough getting them to stop chucking ice and grit at each other when you do know who they are.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 22:48:40

Sparkly how on earth does an ordinary child go to school where you live?!

Seriously though, as I said an "opt-in" system could work in many areas couldnt it? Lets assume you have 20+ primaries and 6 seniors in your town (thats what we have here), if half of them opted in then thats half of them staying open. If the same number in the surrounding areas opted in then again, they are staying open.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 22:50:21

Where I would assume that normal teaching would go out of the window and that a HT wouldnt open without atleast some normal staff in attendance. Otherwise it would, as you say, be chaos. But group activities that may have some learning involved but are not necessarily classroom based "lessons" could be done.

difficultpickle Sun 20-Jan-13 22:51:24

Ds's school is open. They sent a text message and an email telling us to check the website. It would have been more useful for them to have sent a proper message as the website message was two sentences.

It is a 10 mile drive to get there and most of the schools round here are shut tomorrow. I just hope it stays open all day.

On Friday they sent a message at 10.30 saying school closed at 11.30. I called and they said it didn't apply to ds and I had to wait for another message. The message was sent at 11 telling me to collect at 11.30. I left the office immediately and got there at 2 having had two calls from the school asking where I was (I'd already given them my ETA which turned out to be spot on - 3 hours).

ISeeSmallPeople Sun 20-Jan-13 22:53:05

We had a message at 11.55 on Friday to collect at 12!

edam Sun 20-Jan-13 22:55:05

I'm usually on the grumbling side wrt ds's school being closed, although the head has got much better since the governors had a bit of a word... but then realised to my horror that I'd completely forgotten one of my team at work was due to drive to Wales tomorrow (from London). Until she texted me tonight to say um, it's not looking good... I am a Bad Boss. blush Of course I said no, don't go! But am rapping my own knuckles for not thinking of texting her way before now to say don't even think about it.

GregBishopsBottomBitch Sun 20-Jan-13 22:56:41

Im still waiting on news of DD's school, working 2moro so need to know.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 20-Jan-13 22:59:04

Actually, I am now employed by an academy. Would I still be required to work at another school? Allowed to work at another school? How does it work in Gove's Brave New World?

dayshiftdoris Sun 20-Jan-13 23:01:19

Ok

So what if this snow is here for 3 weeks?

You all suggesting the children are off that long?

You must be because there is no other solution apparently

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 23:02:09

Sorry Bogeyface! I live in a city with an infamous gap in its state school/ private school provision - I just did a quick mental map of "within walking distance." So I did just half an hour's walk from where I live, allowing for it being snowy! Within the whole city, there are more state schools/ academies, etc!

That's the problem it comes back to though - your average secondary could have 1200/ 1500 children. All of my previous arguments still apply - a school isn't workable with just the teachers, it's a community. Who is going to run the kitchens? Manage the IT systems? Is a member of SMT definitely going to be available? A designated Child Protection Officer? Will there be enough TAs? Is there someone First Aid trained? Is there a caretaker with all the keys/ someone with the access codes to make the sight accessible? Has someone gone through the classrooms and checked surfaces to ensure no data has been left out so nothing is compromised? Does an SEN child have enough support for the day? Will there really be a whole school run with mostly strangers? Will the teachers coming back the next day mind their resources being used / maybe the wrong things moved or lost? And the fact remains, under current CP and data laws such a procedure is, I think, open to too many potentially dangerous situations. Schools are very strict on who they have on site throughout the year, that's the reason CRB adjustments were rushed through in the first place.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 20-Jan-13 23:03:38

I'm not saying there shouldn't be a plan. I'm saying there isn't a plan. Or rather, there is in Scotland, but not in England.

I'm with Euphemia - I'm a teacher in Scotland and have gone to my local secondary to work when I couldn't get to the school I worked in. It wasn't ideal, of course, but the pupils were fine and they just got on with work that was set and emailed to the school by their own teacher - no different to being on supply/doing cover lessons, really.

On days when schools are closed completely, I set work for my pupils through the intranet and they can email me if they need help. It's rare that we close though, even when the weather conditions are terrible.

The CRB (pvg in Scotland) thing works ok here because it covers you for the council you work in rather than the individual school.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 23:08:39

TFM, I just think that if a national system was in place where schools could opt-in to accept other teachers in this type of situation then it couldnt hurt and could help.

You are employed by an academy. So if they opted in then you would count as being at work that day and your payroll wouldnt be affected. You could offer to work at a school near you and as long as you marked yourself on the register as available as X or Y schools near you then you would count as working. IF they didnt need you then fair enough, but if they did then that school could stay open, as could your academy if staff from other school attended.

Over all it would work out better than the current system, which as you say, is non existent.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 20-Jan-13 23:10:44

CRB is now DBS by the way. Just as an aside!

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 23:11:54

But Sparkly as I said before, if the infrastructure isnt there then the school wont open, therefore the option of accepting staff from the local area isnt an issue. I would hope that no head would open a school if they couldnt guarantee the absolute minimum of infrastructure needed. But bearing in mind that most non-teaching staff tend to live more locally, there is a good chance that TA's, dinner supervisors, caretakers etc could attend, so all that is missing is teachers. And if you, as a teacher, could fill that gap then why not?

Euphemia meal provision has been mentioned as a reason it couldnt work. How does it work where you are?

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 23:15:04

All teachers can do is work within the legal and cultural parameters created.

Yes, maybe in the old days society did 'get on with it' and wade through snowdrifts and whatever else. However, the reality is we are far from a world where the local village teacher taught in the local village and kids just walked to school and liked it. Nowadays it is the culture for people to accommodate long commutes into their working lives, children are driven by default in, it seems, the majority of cases, and in rural areas, face a long round trip. In most parts of the UK, we don't have snow that long.

Now, the culture is different -maybe thanks in part to Gove, but this has been the education world for a long time. Data protection, Health and Safety, CRB, child protection, increasing numbers of SEN and Statemented children. We have to risk assess them playing on grass, they have to wear hi-vi vests and walk in pairs, school visitors who volunteer have to be supervised and cannot be left alone with a child, it is easier than ever for false allegations to ruin a teacher's career - in their own school, never mind one they are randomly visiting, CRB checks have, tragically, proved to be only of a limited use anyway.

Within the current system, for all the reasons I have outlined before, then no. If there is that much snow for 3 weeks, the UK has bigger questions to answer about infrastructure and community provision then compromising it's strict policy laws. Paranoid or not, overblown or not, they are what teachers must work with.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 23:39:56

But in theory Sparkyl, given that such a system works in Scotland, would you object to being part of such a system here?

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 23:40:09

Sparkly even!

Velcropoodle Sun 20-Jan-13 23:44:21

I think it must be very difficult actually making the decision, and I'm sure that they do try and weigh up everything..

SparklyAntlersInMyDecorating Sun 20-Jan-13 23:58:24

I have been discussing this within the current (lack of) system.

I would think for such a system to be viable - yes an opt in system could work, but only if there were enough teachers and schools signed up to it within a wide enough area. Increasingly, schools are no longer all under LEA control, so that would have to be negotiated somehow - each school has it's own systems and rules. Data protection, Child Protection and Health and Safety laws would have to be altered and reviewed significantly - schools are obsessed with the minutiae of one act, one visitor etc - to go from this to something that operated across widely differing schools with no shared ethos or overarching governmental control - that was legally watertight and guaranteed child protection and sensitive data would not be compromised - if these conditions were met. The idea that some schools could partially open, as opposed to none, then in theory.

I suppose it still comes back to certain questions: How does the head guarantee that there is going to be enough teachers from other schools in the narrow window of time before parents need to be notified? How do they know if the children will make it in, to make that call necessary? If enough children are able to get in anyway to make that decision necessary, then their original teachers should be able to get in.

Another example - in my previous school we had a year nine child who could not be approached by any unknown male. She had scars from her father abusing her on her face. I knew, as her tutor, the head of year knew, and selected others - but it was not even a school wide thing. He was not allowed near her. Then the school opens on the principle that strangers (CRB'd yes, but they don't know the site or the children) are coming into teach. That situation could go wrong in several ways - a member of staff not knowing who to challenge, or the father being able to take advantage of the situation somehow. So does that information then get spread around all the schools? Or passed on somehow on the day? My point is we are so tight on this sort of stuff at the moment, any change to that sort of system would be a huge challenge of mentality, as well as logistics. Each school is an island, at the moment, and increasingly so.

Bogeyface Mon 21-Jan-13 00:22:16

I am struggling to get past the issues of that poor little girl sad

But do see why you feel that it wouldnt be workable. There is always one reason why it could fail and that one reason is usually a big enough reason to not risk it, as in this poor girls case.

happynewmind Mon 21-Jan-13 00:30:32

Last time it snowed badly school remained open apart from one day, head said on the other days she expected all pupils in and those who didn't would get unauthorised absence Mark as in her words "it wasn't that bad" For three days I -- stupidly-- tracked 2.36 miles in snow and ice with dd and fell twice. I don't drive and it wasn't on a bus route early morning.

Dd was one of five in her class that week, all were children furthest away from school. Those in next streets had stayed home.

Head announced on the Friday that all those who had not made it cause of snow would still get a Mark and not lose their 100% attendance.
I was most pissed off and now any doubt I stay home!

ravenAK Mon 21-Jan-13 00:42:52

Actually, Bogeyface, I teach in a small-to-middling secondary school & know of two students who couldn't be in a situation with 'strange' teachers coming in to teach. That's on a 'need to know' basis, so there may be others.

I'd happily wander along to my nearest school (2 primaries in easy walking distance; the dcs school is a bit of a schlep but I could take them in & volunteer myself. No secondaries I could get to by opening time assuming I have to walk my own dc in).

However, it just seems a bit pointless from an educational POV. I can set relevant, useful work for my own students online & respond to their queries - much more efficient than me doing crowd control for 30 strange children whilst someone attempts to do likewise for mine. It'd inevitably end up, at best, with generic tasks of limited educational value.

So what we're really talking about here is avoiding any interruption to the service of childcare for working parents, isn't it?

I'm not saying that isn't a laudable aim - it's a complete PITA when my dc are off & I'm not, for whatever reason - but possibly not a good enough one to justify the attendant travel risks & cluttering up the roads when genuinely necessary journeys need to be happening.

sashh Mon 21-Jan-13 05:33:21

Local authorities should issue all school staff with a photo ID pass (and agencies should do the same for supply teachers) and then staff that are CRB checked by county could go to work in their local school and have their ID verified.

I have just started at a new college, on day two I wore the wrong ID all day. I only noticed when I took it off to go home, no one else, including the security staff noticed.

I too want to know if I'm due in today, I have to set off at 7.30 ish, the website just says they are hoping to open.

Kafri Mon 21-Jan-13 05:52:20

If the snow is severe enough then I think the decision can be made the night before. If its feasible to get in the night before but a risk of more overnight then it needs to be a morning decision.

Loads of people have put on FB tonight about not knowing whether their kids school is open tomorrow. Well, in my area the snow is hardly bad. The small side streets still have a bit but all the roads are clear. We've had it much worse here and still had schools open.
I'm AWFUL for driving in snow, a total wimp (I admit it). I absolutely hate it and do not do it at all if its bad. I either walk or stay in and even I have been out in the car in it. That's how mild it is where I am.

Coconutty Mon 21-Jan-13 08:00:37

we were told at 7pm last night and I think that was very helpful,much better than this morning.

JakeBullet Mon 21-Jan-13 08:02:47

Our school is open and I am REAL glad as DS is being a miserable little wotsit. The school are welcome to him this morning quite frankly....snow or no snow.

Bogeyface Mon 21-Jan-13 08:29:18

Due at school in 20 minutes, just found out that it is closed despite it being blindingly obvious at 6:30am that it wouldnt be accesible by locals never mind teachers from out of the area!

cricketballs Mon 21-Jan-13 08:49:29

I was nearly at school when the message came through....took an hour longer than normal (I did expect that so set off really early) and the roads are horrendous; so glad my head has finally made a sensible, timely decision

snowingeverywhere Mon 21-Jan-13 09:00:10

We are very lucky at our school, KHS in Epsom, the Head is very decisive and organised and informs the night before, How hard can it be?

SuffolkNWhat Mon 21-Jan-13 09:04:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JakeBullet Mon 21-Jan-13 09:09:09

Gah! We have had a text sayi g school is open but side roads inaccessible.....how in the hell are we meant to drop 400+ children off? Am not in walking distance either so have to drive.
Then again the radio has in error listed the school as closed...head teacher says it isn't and radio is incorrect but might plead ignorance.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 21-Jan-13 09:15:00

If you'd have asked me last night is have said of course school should be open its fine.

Who's up this morning- school us open and dh managed to make or into work to his school but the snow is much worse than I expected. It would be foolhardy for me to drive the kids 7 miles. My bias rang at 7.15am and said he was closing the office do I've kept them at home.

gazzalw Mon 21-Jan-13 09:18:26

DS's school notified us yesterday evening and school website updated too. On the other hand DD's primary school hasn't knowingly sent any communication and only knew the school was open because we used a London-wide schools website we'd been alerted to by DS's school....

ihearsounds Mon 21-Jan-13 09:42:11

Going to a local school to work isnt always practical.
I work in special needs. We hire no agency at all. All cover is done within the school. One of the main reasons is because the needs of our pupils are very complexed. Another reason is the training we have to go through to help our students. With a bunch of randoms, the care of our students, never mind the education, would be severly comprimsed. Randoms wont know how to do pc, which sling to use, the positioning when put back into chairs, who is able to eat and what, how to feed the students, who has brittle bones, who has seizures... Never mind those that on the at risk register, their details and how it is dealt with in school is on a need to know.
we have a handful of staff that are within walking distance, and we could not safely oversee randoms.

marriedinwhite Mon 21-Jan-13 09:53:45

Reading through this thread - perhaps the reason schools didn't close when I was a lass and that sometimes it was OK for two classes to be combined because Mrs Bloggs really did get snowed in, was because in the 1960s and 1970s there weren't children with complex needs in mainstream schools and there were fewer children on at risk registers because children's homes were still the norm. Different world altogether. Still have some qualms though that we are allowing our dc to grow up with less backbone than was the case a few generations ago.

RustyBear Mon 21-Jan-13 10:12:33

Not that this will help this winter, but in March, CRB checks are being replaced by the Disclosure and Barring Service. From our Governors' information digest "Once [this] check has been conducted, the results will be available online to enable employers to confirm that no new information has been added since the check was originally made. This means that an employee will not have to obtain a new check each time he or she starts a new job." Though, as yet, although this change is less than two months away, schools haven't yet been told exactly how it's going to work.

Though, having said that, I agree with several other posters that there are practical reasons why this may not be appropriate - our school, for example, has an ASD resource, and having a lot of random strangers in the school would only make an already difficult day far worse for many of our pupils.

Happy like you, I don't have a car and it is a 30 minute walk for us to the school in the snow as DS1 is 4YO and DS2 is in a pram. Last Wednesday, at 8:15 (the time we leave the house) the school website and phone message said they were open. We struggled up to the school and then a volunteer met those of us that walked to tell us that at 8:35 they decided to close. Thursday was a bit better, it was open. Friday was the same as Wednesday, for snow, they were closed. Anyway, this morning there is double the amount of snow we had last Wednesday and they are open! I can't get my pram through the snow and I have nobody who can help look after DS2 (6 months) so we have stayed at home.

FariesDoExist Mon 21-Jan-13 11:07:57

I don't know what the solution is. What marriedinwhite says is very interesting. We are so much more cautious about everything these days.

However on BBC news right now - Caerphilly, Wales a school bus with 20 pupils on board has slipped down an embankment, the road has been closed to recover the bus.

It says nobody has been injured, thank goodness.

happynewmind Mon 21-Jan-13 11:20:14

One of our local schools announced at 8.59am that the school was closed. went down REALLLYYYY well.

Bogeyface Mon 21-Jan-13 11:23:54

There's no excuse for that Happy they must have known much sooner if staff couldnt get in!

ReallyTired Mon 21-Jan-13 11:31:54

I feel the police should make the decision about school closures rather than individual heads. Heads get it in the neck if they open the school, but they also get complained at if the school is shut.

If the local police made decisions then at least there would be some consistancy.

If its boarderline whether the roads are driveable then keeping the school run off the road makes it easier for those who have to get to work. However finding childcare is a nightmare on a snow day.

tiggytape Mon 21-Jan-13 11:35:53

How do the police know about icy steps or broken boilers or staff ratios at individual schools?
They may know about surrounding road conditions but there's a lot more to the decision to open or close than whether the roads are passable or not.

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

Wow! I got texts from both DD's Secondary AND DS1 & DS2's Primary school by 8am today to tell me that both schools were closed!!

The new text system seems to be excellent.

One happy bunny who got a lay in here. We're going sledging later.

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

Wow! I got texts from both DD's Secondary AND DS1 & DS2's Primary school by 8am today to tell me that both schools were closed!!

The new text system seems to be excellent.

One happy bunny who got a lay in here. We're going sledging later.

acsec Mon 21-Jan-13 11:50:02

Mine and DSS school is closed as we have no caretaker atm, on sick leave, so noboady to clear snow, grit paths etc.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 21-Jan-13 12:27:09

DC's school is shut (text last night). I've driven 1.5 hour and 20 miles to drop them off at MIL because I have deadlines. Journey slow because every other local school is open. angry

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 21-Jan-13 13:01:13

Well looks like I made a good decision. Although 70% of staff and children got in the road conditions have got worse do school closed at 12.45

crikeybill Mon 21-Jan-13 13:24:15

Well our school is open with a message on the website asking parents to BRING SPADES to help clear the front !!! I was a bit shock tbh !!!

So, off we went to school and work sad I was so hoping for a snow day sad

RabidCarrot Mon 21-Jan-13 13:39:00

DSs school opened today but it would have been madness to try and send them in so both home.

mam29 Mon 21-Jan-13 13:39:39

Well friday dd2s preschool and attached primary just 10mins from my house was shut announced 1st.

The community primary 5mins walk from me shut

Then a few other local schools said they were shut in my suburb and nearby.

But community school same distance as preschool was open.

My dd1 school -small village school remained open.

But it was heavy snow
had no car
and was 1.2miles walk with 2 toddlers rang up and said I appreciate them being open I dont think I can make it through, tehy understood wasent unauthorised 50%turned up but impressed they were open.

Also dds 2 preschool dd used to go attached primary and know all teachers ere very local so baffled why they were shut.

Its very weird as what we had was 4schools within same area opened and rest shut dident make sense,

Alll the senior schools shut.

But today was sleeety and icey we walked in roads ok pavements not great. but no snow today possibly more forcast tonight but thinking unless blizzard then dd school will try and remain open and i will do my best to get her there.

CremeEggThief Mon 21-Jan-13 13:55:06

Not impressed to get a text at 8.40 to say school was shut (apparently, the heating had stopped working), by which stage we were already on a bus, battling through blizzard conditions. It hasn't stopped all day and it's at least four inches deep. The school has promised to let us know by 7.15 a.m. tomorrow, so I hopevthey stick to it.

Wellthen Mon 21-Jan-13 14:12:04

Completely agree. No teacher has ever had children, or a job that isnt teaching or a partner who doesnt teach. And if they did have children, they dont go to different schools so they would never have a situation where their children have a snow day and they don't or vice versa.

Head teachers have NO IDEA how much disruption they cause. Its not like moaning parents are all over the news/twitter/facebook. It isnt even as if driving to work when it is actually snowing is dangerous or anything. And opening the school for a handful of pissed off and ungrateful kids and equally pissed off staff struggling to find their own childcare - that is definitely not fucking annoying.

hmm

hoodoo12345 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:40:18

My dc's primary and secondary schools are open, but EVERY other school in the area is shut, all of them.
Random.

TenthMuse Mon 21-Jan-13 15:16:45

As several others have already said, heads really are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. I'm a teacher, and my instinct would be that schools should remain open if at all possible - a know how much of an inconvenience a sudden closure is for many parents. However, the situation with 'Snow Days' is far more complex than many people seem to assume, and every school is different.

In my experience, for every parent that complains that schools should be open because they can't find childcare/workshy teachers 'just fancied a day off'/'it wasn't like this in their day', there will be another, equally vocal, parent complaining that the school should remain closed because the playground is too icy/travelling in is too dangerous/the children might get stranded at school/little Jimmy can't possibly go outside in this weather.

The last school I taught at had a very 'old-school' head, whose mantra was that the school should remain open at all costs. We were pretty much the only school to stay open in our borough (I'm in North London). On these occasions, half of the kids wouldn't turn up because their parents wanted them to 'make the most of the snow', and many of those who did come in arrived without gloves, wellies and sometimes even coats. Some parents would stipulate that they wanted their child to remain indoors all day as it was supposedly 'too dangerous' for them to play outside. (Obviously some lucky staff members got to miss their break/lunch in order to supervise these children.)

And it isn't only about whether the children and teachers can get to school safely; one one occasion my school did open, but was forced to close down shortly afterwards because the council announced at short notice that they couldn't provide any school lunches. Another time we opened and then had to close at lunchtime because the heating broke down, which made things even more difficult for parents who then had to leave work to collect their children.

Even if the current CRB system were drastically overhauled, the idea of teachers turning up at their local school on snowy days sounds completely unworkable (unless we accept that on these occasions teachers are merely glorified childcare). As others have mentioned, every school these days has children with complex needs, something which is fine if one teacher is unfamiliar with the school, but absolutely not fine if the entire teaching staff has just turned up for one day. And (having worked as a supply teacher) children's behaviour towards unfamiliar teachers can be testing at the best of times, let alone if they're

Having said that, I do realise how frustrating it can be when a headteacher fails to make a clear decision. I once worked at a rural school and our head spent so long faffing about that I was skidding driving down the road through a virtual blizzard before the call came through to say we were shut. It subsequently turned out that, while all the other staff had been struggling into work (some had already arrived at school and become stranded), our lovely Head was sat at home in his dressing gown with a nice cup of tea!

The answer is obviously clear, decisive action by the head teacher, preferably the night before, and with each school making the decision based on its own circumstances, rather than copying each other as often seems to be the case.

TenthMuse Mon 21-Jan-13 15:19:04

As others have already said, heads really are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. I'm a teacher, and my instinct would be that schools should remain open if at all possible - I know how much of an inconvenience a sudden closure is for many parents. However, the situation with 'Snow Days' is far more complex than many people seem to assume, and every school is different.

In my experience, for every parent that complains that schools should be open because they can't find childcare/workshy teachers 'just fancied a day off'/'it wasn't like this in their day', there will be another, equally vocal, parent complaining that the school should remain closed because the playground is too icy/travelling in is too dangerous/the children might get stranded at school/little Jimmy can't possibly go outside in this weather.

The last school I taught at had a very 'old-school' head, whose mantra was that the school should remain open at all costs. We were pretty much the only school to stay open in our borough (I'm in North London). On these occasions, half of the kids wouldn't turn up because their parents wanted them to 'make the most of the snow', and many of those who did come in arrived without gloves, wellies and sometimes even coats. Some parents would stipulate that they wanted their child to remain indoors all day as it was supposedly 'too dangerous' for them to play outside. (Obviously some lucky staff members got to miss their break/lunch in order to supervise these children.)

And it isn't only about whether the children and teachers can get to school safely; one one occasion my school did open, but was forced to close down shortly afterwards because the council announced at short notice that they couldn't provide any school lunches. Another time we opened and then had to close at lunchtime because the heating broke down, which made things even more difficult for parents who then had to leave work to collect their children.

Even if the current CRB system were drastically overhauled, the idea of teachers turning up at their local school on snowy days sounds completely unworkable (unless we accept that on these occasions teachers are merely glorified childcare). As others have mentioned, every school these days has children with complex needs, something which is fine if one teacher is unfamiliar with the school, but absolutely not fine if the entire teaching staff has just turned up for one day. And (having worked as a supply teacher) children's behaviour towards unfamiliar teachers can be testing at the best of times, let alone if they're completely overexcited because of the snow

Having said that, I do realise how frustrating it can be when a headteacher fails to make a clear decision. I once worked at a rural school and our head spent so long faffing about that I was skidding driving down the road through a virtual blizzard before the call came through to say we were shut. It subsequently turned out that, while all the other staff had been struggling into work (some had already arrived at school and become stranded), our lovely Head was sat at home in his dressing gown with a nice cup of tea!

The answer is obviously clear, decisive action by the head teacher, preferably the night before, and with each school making the decision based on its own circumstances, rather than copying each other as often seems to be the case.

JakeBullet Mon 21-Jan-13 15:19:58

I bumped into one of DS's teachers yesterday and said hopefully "snow day tomorrow"? Se just said she hoped not as so many parents complain. It's down to the Head though, our head decided to open the school but a bit later than usual. So everyone went in at 10:30.

dangly131 Mon 21-Jan-13 15:49:57
nevermore Mon 21-Jan-13 18:28:02

This may have been mentioned before but the knock on effect of schools closing is that some parents who work in the emergency services will be unable to go to work. This impacts on those who need help most. Hospitals don't close to the most vulnerable in case they slip over on their way in. Why then should perfectly healthy 8 year olds be cossetted at home in case of a sprained ankle rather than risk an icy playground? School is about more than phonics, it's a bit about getting things done despite the odd knockback.

ravenAK Mon 21-Jan-13 18:33:39

...or you could argue that if you take the school run off the roads, you reduce the number of accidents requiring attendance by the emergency services, besides considerably reducing rush hour congestion so it's easier for those vital staff to actually make it in?

I'm all for local childcare solutions & would happily volunteer to help staff one, but it'd almost certainly be better for just about everyone if school children were walking to them, & only where parents aren't able & willing to be at home with them.

ravenAK Mon 21-Jan-13 18:55:44

In fact, my idea, which I seem to recall posting on an identical thread last year, would be:

Volunteers with CRB (retired or part time teachers, & any who know that their own &/or their dc's school is highly likely to close in the event of snow, for instance) register well ahead of time at their local designated snow day childcare facility - could be a church hall, community centre or even a school.

The centre advertises itself on t'internets & WOH parents of local children register for a place.

Once it snows & schools close, kids are taken on foot, by their parents, to the centre where they are supervised by the volunteers in a 1:10 ratio. No pretence of teaching, although there would be a quiet area for homework/revision/reading. Instead, there would be a choice of games or watching videos, etc.

Parents who are just users of the centre pay a reasonable hourly fee which goes to cover the overheads. Volunteers get free childcare for their own dc/gdc (cover a half day, leave your own dc for the other half?). Or just the satisfaction of having a cast iron riposte to being called a workshy skiver in the case of serving teachers...

dangly131 Mon 21-Jan-13 19:01:21

nevermore - the child did not sprain her ankle, she died! Sometimes you don't get up from the odd 'knock back' and in this case she didn't!

Hulababy Mon 21-Jan-13 19:05:46

My school was open as normal today, not even a later start.
Had about 16/17 children in per class - just over half.

I was snowed in car wise. Even DH's car, which is 4WD but a normal sized car, couldn't get out. No buses running at all for us. So we walked - about 4 miles for me and DD (who's own school was also open though it was parents decision to go in or not entirely) and 5 miles for DH. Took about 1.5-2 hours in the snow as pretty deep in places and slippery.

For hometime apparently our buses were running again though I didn't see any on our route, neither did Dh who came home a couple of hours after me. After I'd walked the mile up to DD's school one of her friend's parents took pity on us and drove us home in their big 4x4 smile

However - I am now suffering. I have arthritis and it had been playing up last week as it was. Even despite extra meds this morning and at lunch my knee is now swollen and stiff and my hands/knee are really sore. Hoping they'll go down before the morning as no way I can get my car out again - Dh will be able too so I will only have a mile to walk, but it'll be tough going with a non flexible knee!

girliefriend Mon 21-Jan-13 20:51:08

My dds school opened on friday even though it was a blizzard conditions and they had signs up all over the school on Thursday saying they would shut if it snowed confused

It is totally random!! Although dd had a lovely day on Friday as only about 7 kids in her class turned up and in dds words they 'played all day!!'

torychicetc Tue 22-Jan-13 12:47:00

PENQIN well, the weather is random. I would not want to be a Head making those decisions. 50 years ago? many fewer cars. and mums stayed at home.

tonyhalpin Tue 22-Jan-13 13:18:34

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

duchesse Tue 22-Jan-13 15:13:50

Dear goodness, what we need is some common sense in the face of snow, not to shut bleddy schools! If this pattern of snowy winters continues I hope to god that people will start to take responsibility and help clear pavements, steps etc. You can't not go to school because there's snow- what if it's there all winter? Keep children and everybody off work and school all winter? Of course not. If Canadian schools and businesses can manage to stay open in -30C or lower there's no earthly reason why we can't. It's a question of wanting to. I suspect that in the UK it makes little financial sense (at the moment) to make elaborate contingency plans for snow as we don't have it often enough and it's cheaper to just let it melt two days later.

We just collectively need to get into the habit of dealing with snow so that life as we know it doesn't just grind to a halt at the first flake. All collectivities ought to have a snow plan, including schools, employers and LAs. This would avoid utter chaos like this.

mumzy Tue 22-Jan-13 18:11:52

Dcs school was closed yesterday so had no alternative but to stay at home with them taking it as annual leave. As a result I had to cancel my clinics which offer a specialist service and have a long waiting list. The knock on effects of schools closing are huge I work for NHS and we are expected to come in whatever the weather or take it as annual leave. I suggest schools have a contingency whereby staff who are local come so it remains open for working parents and the kids watch DVDs etc. Parents who want to keep their dcs off for the snow period can do so reducing the burden for the school.

Somebody at DS2's school told me today that they are only going to shut if there is at least an amber weather warning so they can make the decision the night before based on what the Met Office are saying. That is fine but weather has a funny habit of not reading the forecasts and doing its own thing so even that isn't foolproof. You could decide to shut the school the night before only to find that everything is passable the next morning. It could also work the other way and you could get an unexpectedly heavy fall of snow which catches everybody out which happened in our town in December 2009 (thankfully it was the first day of the school hols so school not an issue). Then the only shut for an amber warning thing is too late.

I wouldn't want to be a head teacher making that decision. Must be doubly hard if you don't even live in the town where you work like the 2 heads of our local infants and juniors. How can you know what the roads are like in another town? Weather can vary so much over even 15 or so miles. I wouldn't criticise a HT whatever they decide. Short of giving them a crystal ball I think they just have to guess like the rest of us.

Cerisepink Wed 23-Jan-13 00:53:53

http://www.education.gov.uk/a0064221/length-of-school-dayyear

Just found this on the Dept of Education's website.

Seems by law schools are required to make up lost teaching time to ensure pupils receive the 190 days or 380 sessions each academic year. This is also the number of days teachers are contracted to teach plus the 5 days for the ubiquitous Inset.

Perhaps as we'll as teaching our children life lessons in resilience, our children could be taught it's right and proper to uphold the law?

Euphemia Wed 23-Jan-13 07:09:29

staff who are local come so it remains open for working parents and the kids watch DVDs etc

That's what happens in Scotland, but we teach the children, not babysit them.

ReallyTired Thu 24-Jan-13 21:49:33

"staff who are local come so it remains open for working parents and the kids watch DVDs etc"

Schools are there to provide education and are not childcare facility. The eduation of ALL children is important whether the parents work or not.

Prehaps we need to get long term benefit claiments to clear snow in schools and hospitals.

Hulababy Fri 25-Jan-13 17:15:32

The trouble is though when you have just half a class in. You can't teacher the normal lesson plan really as half the children are missing it, so it would then need to be repeated when they were back. Or if classes are mixed - because then again you can't follow the normal plans.

We had two Y2 classes mixed, half from each came in. We had to go off timetable otherwise it would have been a real pain later in the week. We are y2 so just kept to topical stuff, along with snow work too. So our topic is space so we did additional space related work - some ICT - space research and report writing, some space craft, a space quiz and then also some creative writing about snow/ice - and then some extra outdoor snow play too, and an impromptu singing lesson. We also figured that those who chose to stay home were probably having fun in the sun all day too, so seemed fair to have ours outside to make snowmen and a quick snowball fight. I think at the end of the day we also showed a video - though was an iplayer one from stargazing type program.

Euphemia Fri 25-Jan-13 17:19:33

Hulababy We had that problem this week too - rural area so many children not in. It's pointless sticking to the planned lessons as you spend the rest of the term playing catch-up with the children who were off.

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