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


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

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 21-Jan-13 13:44:48

It isn't the roads here that is the problem, it is the school site itself which is on a slope and the whole place is like an ice rink.

OP - presumably your school has staff onsite all the time because it is boarding?

Staff went in early this morning and the place has been cleared and gritted, and they opened half an hour late for the children of working parents only. Those of us who have a SAHP in the family were asked to keep their DCs at home.
The school is going to be open to everyone as normal tomorrow.

In the late 1970s (old gimmer alert) my Secondary school was a 4 mile bus journey then a mile walk. (No idea why the buses couldn't take us right up to the school, there was enough parking confused )

I only remember being sent home once. We all walked down to the town centre bus station (those who lived in the town went home).
One of the teachers drove down and told us all to walk back to school (another mile back) and wait while they phoned and organised lifts from parents etc.

I found out later that a couple of years previously he'd had to lift the body of a dead pupil from the side of the road -they'd decided to try to walk and he'd never forgiven himself sad

LaQueen Mon 21-Jan-13 13:46:36

And, my secondary school was in the middle of a large country park, down many tiny country lanes, no gritting. The heating regularly failed and no double glazing etc.

It was a Steiner school, so money was on a shoe-string and the building was very old and draughty.

I regularly recall wearing my coat during the lesson grin

Even during the very, very heavy snowfalls of 1981/82 our school never closed. Some pupils didn't make it (lived 20 or more miles away) but some of the teachers always did - they had to park on the main road and walk the last couple of miles through the park through knee deep snow and even deeper drifts...

MaryPoppinsBag Mon 21-Jan-13 13:54:02

I am guessing it's an arse covering exercise for most Headteachers, due to the litigious society we live in!

It's not necessary for teacher to treat it as a holiday and post pictures all over Facebook enjoying their day off though!
I bet they'd make more of an effort to get in if they weren't going to get paid for it!

My husband has driven 65 miles to work today. No excuse for staff not to make it 5-10 miles into work (and it has snowed quite badly here in Yorkshire!)

SugarplumMary Mon 21-Jan-13 13:54:08

We got snow from both big snow fronts - so we have a lot around at minute- the roads weren't clear at 6-7 this morning - all the local schools are closed, many across county and surrounding counties are closed - many teachers have DC so possible wouldn't make it - though I'm sure most would try.

We have also been forecast more snow - which is currently coming down.

So I think in our area - it’s sensible to close today then get everyone back tomorrow. Rather than have to close early and cope with the chaos that caused Friday.

lecce Mon 21-Jan-13 13:57:10

LaQueen You are starting to sound like that Monty Python sketch with the Yorkhsire men grin. I'm sure it's all very commendable and you and the staff at your dds' school are all super-hardy no-nonsecne types but, really, is it necessary? Is it/was it worth people risking serious injuries for?

I am glad that the HT at my school has a little more regard for the well-being of his staff than your dds' head, who seems more concerned with proving how much of a can-doer she is to parents.

I hate this competitive, who-is-the most-macho- attitude that the snow seems to bing out in some people, particulary HTs who want to be known as 'the one that always stays open.'

I don't recall more than one or two snow days when I was at school in NE Scotland. The DC from "up the country" used to get sent home if the forecast was bad, as they were bussed in, but those of us in the town didn't envy.

But my primary school had a fab playground on a slight slope, so we made a long long slide by packing down the snow and polishing it AND the janitor used to come with buckets of water to make it even more slippery. Would never happen these days. Don't recall any injuries more than the usual bumps and bruises of large crowds of DCs playing together either.

BeanJuice Mon 21-Jan-13 13:59:25

I hate the wimpy attitude of let's not bother even trying that it brings out in some people lecce grin

SugarplumMary Mon 21-Jan-13 13:59:49

My husband has driven 65 miles to work today.

Mine spent hours yeaterday traveling over 150 miles to a badly affected area - and did say he'd tear a strip of anyone who lived local who said they couldn't get in today.

I still don't think it would have been a good idea for the school to open today. They let us know last night so there was time to make childcare arrangements.

Many of the teachers at both DS's primary and DD's secondary live miles away. So I can understand that not enough staff can be a problem. Both schools are closed.

DD could have possibly made it by walking (1.5 miles), but she has to go down a long hill, which might have been tricky. DS only has a minute's walk to get there (round the corner).

Meanwhile, as usual, the bus route on our estate has been gritted but no other streets. Our street is already an ice rink, I've seen cars sliding around today with little control. Once on the main road, it's driveable, but the pavements are rubbish.

However, I have ensured both DCs have completed their homework, meaning they have little to do for the rest of the week. smile

Samu2 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:03:51

I think it is strange how my children's school was closed two days last week but open today. The roads are worse today apparently.

I did get a text to say that if you don't bring them they will still mark it down as an authorised absence.

lecce Mon 21-Jan-13 14:04:30

Me too Bean, that's why I drove the 16 miles to school (on rural roads) this morning at stupid-O'clock because I wanted to prepare some resources for my Yr 13s (last lesson before their exam). I got there to be told we were closed- I had been messaged but couldn't even glance at my phone during that journey from hell.

I have been chastised by dh and the chair-of-governor's wife (happens to be a ta) for trying.

I think others have made the good point that the fewer cars there are around, the safer it is, and a day or two off school is not going to be disastrous for anyone. (My yr13s should be well-prepared by now and can retake in the summer if needed.)

Samu2 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:05:09

Oh, and I got a text from my two high-schoolers school at to tell me school opened at 10.30 am.

I sent them at 8.30am having no idea it was open late. Thankfully, it is only a five minute walk.

ouryve Mon 21-Jan-13 14:07:20

There are schools like ours where most of the kids live in the village and in walking distance but most of the staff live further afield. It's stayed open, but people who have to drive have struggled because it's a hilly area. There's been snow ploughs and gritters coming up our main road pretty much hourly, today and it's still covered.

There's 3 schools in smaller local villages closed today and given what it's like here, by my house, on a main route (though the school isn't and that road won't have been touched), I can't say I blame them. Our school is small and those schools are smaller - it would only take a couple of absent staff to make opening untenable.

BeanJuice Mon 21-Jan-13 14:08:34

lecce how annoying that you didn't find out until you'd got there sad when's their exam?

SugarplumMary Mon 21-Jan-13 14:08:37

DH remembers getting sent home from school – junior school as they decide to shut after most had left home. Head stood at gates and just sent them away and as his parent worked he had to find someone to take him in for day.

The rural village I grew up closed several times in my childhood for snow - more because all but one teacher lived outside the village and the main road to the village wasn't always gritted.

I remember sitting listening to the snow announcements on the radio as does DH.

Secondary school closed a few times as well - though we did have to walk the 4 miles in snow few times as buses didn't turn up but school was open.

This was 1980's - north and midlands.

So it's not a new thing.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 21-Jan-13 14:10:16

I can remember very bad snow and still going to school, but there were huge differences. All kids went to their nearest school and being taken in a car was unheard of. Your mum took you and picked up and was at home all day. Schools were only used for education not childcare provision, and of course everybody worked close to home, even teachers.

I also think that H&S has gone a bit extreme, but understandable with all the accident claim companies, these too were unheard of years ago. Children were the responsibility of others far less than today and my peers were only away from their parents between 9am and 3pm. Pre school and nursery didn't exist you just started school at 5 years old, so none of the childcare issues that arise from bad weather neither.

Mine spent hours yeaterday traveling over 150 miles to a badly affected area - and did say he'd tear a strip of anyone who lived local who said they couldn't get in today.

Whoopee do, bully for him.

3 years ago it took me more than two hours to do a journey that normally takes 50 mins to work. I travelled at no more than 20 mph on an ice rink, which was actually the main road. The council hadn't gritted at all, and there were hold ups caused by accidents. The police were pissed off with our council and tore them off a strip for not gritting (I had a connection who told me all about it).

And we had messages repeating the advice not to travel unnecessarily. And work is not always a necessary journey. Whenever it looks like a problem I make sure I have work I can do at home. With technology as it is, there's no reason why we should all be travelling in this weather. Leave the roads clear for those with essential journeys to do.

Namely Mon 21-Jan-13 14:10:53

I love the competitive who is the most tough attitude in the snow threads!
My husband got up at 3am and walked 100 miles in his pants BACKWARDS to get to work today. Luckily we are not martyrs in this house and couldn't care less what people think. My car is not leaving my driveway. Schools closing is very useful for other people who have to get to work. There is a lot less traffic on the roads. One of the schools that did open last year in the snow had a mum leave the road and run a child over. Luckily they didn't die but they were hospitalised.

Schools open and only 50% of children turn up. Should they have a normal day of teaching that the teacher then has to re teach to the other 15 children another day or should they just be babysat for a few hours?

Tingalingle Mon 21-Jan-13 14:12:49

Dad fondly recalls skiing into school once when he was an NQT (or dark ages equivalent thereof). Well hardcore, my dad.

He less fondly recalls trying to manage 200 or so adolescents that morning, solo, as the caretaker was the only other member of staff there...

Staffing ratios? Pah.

mynameisnowsonicthehedgehog Mon 21-Jan-13 14:13:44

In our village there are two primary school within a 10 minute walk, one open one closed. We were sent a text at 8am to say that ours was open and the headmaster and the majority of the teaching staff have to travel. I think some schools are to quick to stay closed.

lecce Mon 21-Jan-13 14:14:07

Yes, Bean - but my own fault for going so early. Exam not till Thursday and I do think they know their stuff but may try and fit in an extra session sometime before then. There is one good thing about the evil Gove - no more exams in poor weather at this time of year smile.

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 21-Jan-13 14:15:27

Both 'our' schools have very tight catchments so everyone can walk. This is very often the case in London. Schools are there to deliver an education and I think it would be outrageous to close in order to allow other road users better transport!

The knock on effect for businesses and essential services is huge if so many parents have to take emergency childcare days.

Schools were interviewed for the observer yesterday about why they close and none gave an actual concrete reason why they would close - just cited vague theoretical 'Health and safety assessments' But risk of WHAT?

Of course in rural areas or in genjuinely terrible snow, attendance will sometimes be impossible. But closing 'just because' in urban areas is just weedy! And sets up a notion that we all retreat to our sofas at the first sign of adversity. DC were outraged to find that school was open this morning - but there was absolutely no reason to shut, in 6" od snow,

BeanJuice Mon 21-Jan-13 14:18:31

lecce I agree. I hated revising over the Christmas holidays.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 21-Jan-13 14:18:48

Forgot to add.

The point of attendance at school and not getting behind as a pro for attending school, is not really applicable.
A child doesn't need to attend school to be educated my dd is continuing as normal as she is H. ed. We have played a lot outside though, built snow animals, learned about snow and weather etc.
There are many things a parent can do to educate their dc whilst their school is closed.

TuesdayNightDateNight Mon 21-Jan-13 14:19:39

Seeing as its a well known fact that the catchment area for our school is under 600 metres, there is no way any child should struggle to get in other than those who played the system and actually live miles away

However most of the teachers live outside the city so it's not surprising that they closed on Friday. Open today though!

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 21-Jan-13 14:21:28

There are many things a parent can do to educate their dc whilst their school is closed.

Not from my desk there aren't! However, we do those things as a normal side-effect of talking about snow, looking up the forecast together, etc. . As with every opportunity that presents itself. It doesn't take me losing a day's mortgage-paying income to do that!

recall Mon 21-Jan-13 14:26:49

I wouldn't let my kids sit in a freezing cold school because the heating wasn't working, just so that the Headmistress felt good about herself - she could fekk off with her no nonsense attitude, sounds like a bit of a twat to me.

SugarplumMary Mon 21-Jan-13 14:28:16

FryOneFatManic -
And we had messages repeating the advice not to travel unnecessarily

we don't drive - so he wasn't on the roads endangering anyone. Not everyone does you know hmm.

He spoke to his colleagues and was expected in and local conditions aren’t to bad as they improved over weekend the are had the worst Friday - the university is open he is standing in front of students who expect someone to be there to teach them.

We don't drive - he walked to the train station yesterday before the heavy snow storm last night with bag for week as he does every week term time got on a train - then on a replacement bus, then train then walked to his accommodation. He wore appropriate clothing.

He made a judgment call - got information about travel and decide it was safe to do so for him. Just as my DC head master decided it wasn't safe for the school to open. My point to previous poster was despite him being safe to travel doesn’t mean it safe for the local school to open hmm.

He walked in this morning – his digs are further out than the student’s accommodation or most of his colleague’s houses. The roads are clear and the advice in that area isn’t that people can’t travel.

That won’t stop some students and one collage as an excuse not to bother - they have form and they will use the snow as an excuse.

DeafLeopard Mon 21-Jan-13 14:28:47

Supposedly 20% of cars on the road in rush hour are on the school run. So if schools close that is a big chunk of traffic not there.

Means the roads are clearer for essential workers who have to get to work....assuming that they are not at home looking after their DCs whose schools are closed that is.

When I say have to get to work I mean hospital staff / care workers / emergency services etc not people with the "lunch is for wimps" type attitude that you have to get to work come hell or high water.

MaureenShit Mon 21-Jan-13 14:29:00

a lot of schools shut because they have shit campuses

PLUS if the attendance % is low it reflects badly on OFSTED

RooneyMara Mon 21-Jan-13 14:30:46

I'm really sorry for those who are nervous drivers and under pressure to get to work.

It's not just about being nervous. I'm a confident every day driver and we nearly got killed on saturday when our brakes failed in a tiny bit of slush.

Just not always worth the risk iyswim

Lynned Mon 21-Jan-13 14:36:08

Hmm, we live in a london Borough, all the roads are gritted, buses are running, and still our secondary school is closed. ( I know that the head only lives 1.5 miles away.) i am a SAHM so have no childcare issues. They also closed at 12 on Friday citing that the buse had stopped running ( several
passed us at 11.30pm as we left the pub!). In his email the head said it was for the students safety. My two are out sledging ( where would they be safer, in lessons, our hurtling down a slope?)

MaryPoppinsBag Mon 21-Jan-13 14:36:56

For many people though it isn't about being a martyr, it is about having to turn up to work because if you don't you don't get paid.
And for some families that means not being able to pay for food/ fuel / mortgage.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 21-Jan-13 14:38:21

It's lovely that your school has been able to remain open, OP.

It has nothing to do with the fact that, for all sorts of reasons, some headteachers have had to take the decision not to open.

For anyone posting about how schools in 1947 stayed open, why not picture the AIBU today, along the lines of 'DS's classroom was only 9 degrees today, only source of heat was open fire in front of which their balaclavas were all hung to dry, WIBU to say something?' We have people on here complaining that nobody put the wellies they didn't send to school on their child at playtime, resulting in fever and ague! Many things were different in the past, and it's no use using it as a yardstick for now.

perfectstorm Mon 21-Jan-13 14:39:08

You could see the ground through the snow where I live. The preschool was open no problem at all. It is next door to a school which closed.

Go figure, as they say in the States. Schools did not close for light snow when I was a kid. Not once, actually. And I remember the odd very heavy fall, too - 1986 springs to mind particularly.

perfectstorm Mon 21-Jan-13 14:41:00

Incidentally if there are heating issues (one local school closed as pipes burst) that's obviously a genuine reason. Similarly, snow so deep the roads are impassable for teachers who aren't very close. But where grass pokes out of the snow, and under trees there is naked concrete? Seriously, all schools closing? Why?

Our schools rarely close. This is the first time DD's secondary has closed in the 18 months she's been there. And DS's school has only been closed a couple of times. Most schools will try to stay open if at all possible, around here, certainly.

outtolunchagain Mon 21-Jan-13 14:42:57

I think it's about judgement, obviously there are some circumstances where it would be fool hardy to travel . Ds2 's school is open today but it is a small specialist one in a very rural location , 3 miles off a B road in a non gritted location . We have not attempted it .

Ds3 however is a school, he is 5 miles away . We are in a village and the roads were a bit hair raising but I took it steadily . I passed two houses both on more main routes than my house where the children are staying at home because the weather is too bad. One of these mothers has just been seen at Tescos ( not that bad then)

I do think it can be easier for independent schools; staff ratios tend to be high and therefore they can Coe with a few people being off and also the ground staff are all out gritting the paths and roads etc.

Our schools open but an hour later, and shutting an hour early, the issue with ours is just the teachers travelling as it only has children from the estate its at the centre off so anyone can do the 5min maximum walk, but most of the morons drive as its cold <bangs head on wall> and the closed the nursery. Tbh I'm very grateful they're open

milf90 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:47:26

I thought it was a bit OTT until we actually tried to walk to the end of the road today. The pavements are very dangerous - either very deep in snow and icey or just plain icey. We couldn't walk down the pavements actually because the pushchair couldnt get through all the snow, so we ended up walking down the side of the road (Very unsafe in these conditions i know, but the road was very quiet) and it was the same on the road. compacted snow and very icey.

My OH ended up going back to get his car, to find himself horizontal along the road and having to rock his car to get it to move.

at the end of the day i would rather not risk the children's safety and they miss a few days of school, tbh.

you cant really say "well in 1969 i never missed a day of school" etc. because it IS different now. more cars on the road, more built up areas, going to school further away not within walking distance etc. also we dont have any statistic if that was detrimental in anyway? were people injured? was there heating? was the school understaffed? etc.

wordfactory Mon 21-Jan-13 14:51:57

lecce I don't think the HTs who simply shut down are necessarily to be commended for thinking of their staff.

If that were the case then why aren't hospitals closing down? Or police stations? Or children's homes? Surely all those staff need to be kept safe? Or are teachers more fragile?

A good HT should at least try to stay open. And he/she should trust his teachers sufficiently to say they should come to work as normal if possible but that no one should do anyhting daft...just like the rest of the working population! If teachers are incapable of making these decisions then frankly they shouldn't be teaching children!

orangeandlemons Mon 21-Jan-13 14:52:03

I teach in a large secondary. One of the main reasons for closing is the amount of water traipsed into a school which then turns it into an ice rink. There are about 2200 staff and students in my school. All with wet feet. Multiply that by the amount of lesson changes/ breaks / dinner and whatever, and the school is soon like a paddling pool. It then becomes dangerous to walk on the millions of stairs and corridors. There are only. 2 on site caretakers and no on site cleaners so the floor soon becomes really dangerous.

wordfactory Mon 21-Jan-13 14:56:09

But isn't that the same when it rains oranges?

orangeandlemons Mon 21-Jan-13 14:58:21

No, they don't get as wet. Definitely not. Snow sticks to shoes and that is what makes it so wet. It was awful the other day, and it never gets like that in rain. Have just realised that's over 4000 feet every day walking round. Am quite staggered by that...

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 21-Jan-13 14:58:21

Orangeandlemons: Buy big doormats?

Honestly. 1,800 pupils lose a day's education, many students will be out and about unsupervised and causing trouble, Yr 7 parents work disrupted, paid-for individual music lessons wasted, and all for the sake of sensible matting inside the doors?

orangeandlemons Mon 21-Jan-13 15:00:00

Lol at doormats. We have those, but they never ever wipe their feet. The doormats we have usually suffice, but when it is really snowy they get really wet too

trice Mon 21-Jan-13 15:01:43

I work at a fe college. All the office staff were there and working. All the apprentices who need to finish their courses before they move up a pay grade were in. Most of the lecturers were taking a snow day.

I think it is all about attitude and priorities.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 21-Jan-13 15:14:18


I don't see your point, sorry. If you mean that you can't educate your dc whilst at work, I realise this. Not everybody works though, obviously.
I was responding to the assumption that children need to be in school to gain an education and that by closing a school children would get behind, which clearly isn't the case.

elastamum Mon 21-Jan-13 15:29:29

Both my DC are in school and we have lots of snow. It is a rural private school with some boarders and is always open. I cant remember it ever shutting for snow.

orangeandlemons Mon 21-Jan-13 15:32:45

Also have you ever seen a doormat that can cope with millions of feet which have trudged through snow?. There is only one main entrance and the doormat always suffices except when it is very snowy. Why is that so unbelievable?

mrsjay Mon 21-Jan-13 15:35:43

If teachers janitors and kids can get into school then there is no bloody need to close it is daft, we used to go to school in snow and never had snow days this was the 70s just ridiculous that so many schools close because of snow

manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 16:18:53

rooneymara - yes, I agree that it can make the situation very hard for nervous drivers. We have 2 teachers who didn’t get in today (1 from well over an hour’s drive away and one from 15-20 minutes drive away). The one with the longer journey might get the odd bit of flack when he comes back but the one with the shorter journey has had a lot of judgement (in her absence) already because she lives in a town and at least 100 other people have come in from further afield than that. She may well be a very nervous driver and I think it’s a shame that there isn’t more understanding.

steamingnit - my point wasn’t the circumstances that kept my school open in the first place (the boarders and local staff) but the fact, from their own free choice, almost everybody else came in too. It made me think that if there wasn’t someone at the top making a blanket and overly cautious decision almost all parents and staff would happily get to their schools, even if they are rural and quite a long drive away.

morethanpotatoprints - the children who didn’t come in today are behind in terms of what we are doing in class. I’m not saying they can’t learn from home, of course they can. But they haven’t done what we have done here today and they will have to catch up on that. Which seems a little unfair as it’s not their fault they couldn’t get into school. Hence why I put it as a con of keeping schools open.

dangly131 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:23:32

i think this is a good enough reason ensure that all children and safe remain safe.

dangly131 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:23:45


TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 21-Jan-13 16:27:59

Manic, at the risk of turning this into a different kind of thread, mightn't parents who've paid for the place be more likely to want to get their children there come hell or high water?

Our secondary has only closed for a full day once, i think, in 2009 or 10, though sometimes it's sent home early if the weather worsens during the afternoon. But from that I wouldn't extrapolate that there's no justification for all the many schools who do take the decision to close.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 21-Jan-13 16:35:23


My apologies, I wasn't thinking in the same way and see your point now. It has taken a while to get the school system out of my line of thinking and now I don't see it at all.
I must add Manic I have much respect for teachers and think in the whole most do a fantastic job. Its the system I objected to.

lecce Mon 21-Jan-13 16:35:24

Wow, wordfactory that is a very icy post. I didn't mean HT should think of their staff only, obviously that is one consideration they have among many. I was really responding to another post which was all about a HT and her no-nonsense attitude and I was reading it from a teacher's perspective and thinking that she hadn't thought about her staff.

Of course I don't think teachers are more fragile than other people and I think all mangers of all organisations should balance the well-being of their staff with other issues when making these decisions. If conditions are severe then the minimum number of staff required should be expected in. The problem is that some people worry about what will be said in their absence and about letting others down and make journeys that are unsafe or that they are not really competent to make.

If you think that teachers who make a poor judgement call because they are worried about comeback from SLT; letting their colleagues down or letting students down when many have exams in the next few week are not fit to teach - well, words fail me hmm.

manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 16:39:20

dangly - I was going to mention something about a lot of schools feeling obligated to close due to a tragic accident where a child died but I didn't know the details. That is awful but absolutely nothing to do with schools being open or shut. Had the school been closed the child could have died from a slip while playing outside. I was surprised to read that it wasn't on the school premises actually as somebody told me the school had been in trouble over it. Maybe there was another incident. Regardless, that's a winter tragedy not a school opening in winter tragedy.

steamingnit - yes, that could easily be true actually. I don't think it would make me more likely to attempt a long drive on bad roads but for a lot of confident drivers it could well have done.

wordfactory Mon 21-Jan-13 16:41:03

Teachers should be capable of making the same common sense decision as every other working person in the land. There's is not a special set of circumstace that means their manahger hs to make the decision for them.

manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 16:42:01

morethanpotatoprints - no worries. I think HE is a very valid part of the education system too. Both can work well for different children.

dangly131 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:45:41

It technically wasn't on the school premises but the child had been told to go to another entrance so she had been to one entrance and turned away. She had to leave the premises to go around the school to get to where she needed to be. I remember the ground being particularly hazardous that winter and yes it could have happened from playing outside, but that winter i remember hardly any child outside because it was nearly impossible to stand up anywhere! on the day this happened i parked at my work and it took me an hour to get into the building from the carpark! The school has a duty to safeguard all people on the premises and if it means doing so because the grounds are unsafe then I feel it is the right thing to do.

JakeBullet Mon 21-Jan-13 16:48:02

My DS school opened but did so later than usual to allow everyone time to get in. Other schools in the area closed....I know that head teachers seem damned if they do and damned if they don't. For every parent angry because they have to change work plans another parent will be angry because if the school opens their child might get injured in icy conditions. Personally I say we should accept this might happen and suck it up.....but as a Carer I don't have to get into an office every morning anymore.

lecce Mon 21-Jan-13 16:48:11

Yes, but teachers and people in other jobs sometimes have bosses who make them feel that common sense must come second to getting into work at all costs. Many people, if told that their organisation will remain open, will feel obligated to make the journey, even if they don't feel confident in doing so. That could happen to anyone in any job. I specified teachers because this thread is about school but, in fact, my views remain the same when applied to any other job where managers are in a similar position to HTs. I'll repeat: I do not think teachers are special but this thread is about schools.

manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 16:58:42

gosh, that is terrible dangly - I still don't htink it was an open or closed issue but certainly a safeguarding one - the child shouldn't have been allowed off the premises.

lovelyladuree Mon 21-Jan-13 17:13:11

We live in a semi-rural market town. The Head suggested that next time snow fell, she would ask for volunteers to clear the snow outside the school and in the grounds. This was met with enthusiasm from parents because many would rather spend an hour shovelling snow than have to take annual leave from work. But, the text never came. The school closed, despite others in the area remaining open. Several teachers were seen happily shopping in the Tesco Extra, having 'made it' into the town. We are breeding a generation of wimps. Head teachers have very much to answer for.

manicinsomniac Mon 21-Jan-13 17:20:00

sounds very reasonable, she should certainly have sent the text (unless there were other reasons you don't know about). I had to go in at 6.30 this morning to shovel pathways and drive (part of the contract for local staff though and probably would be dangerous if we didn't do it though so fair enough)

IAmLouisWalsh Mon 21-Jan-13 17:25:55

Guess how many pupils made it in by 8.30am this morning?

orangeandlemons Mon 21-Jan-13 17:39:25

She won't have been able to do it I imagine because of health and safety reasons. The decision to close a school is never ever taken lightly. It is usually made about 6.00 am based on the risks to students. Weather can change very fast. With a big school, all paths have to be made accessible and the issues of school buses have to be considered. If the school buses are struggling to get in or one crashes on the way in, that can leave the school in a very sticky situation. It is very easy to judge when you aren't involved in it.

In the case of my school we had to close once due to the huge amount of excess water on the floors. If a heating system breaks down, then the school again has to close due to minimum working temperatures. It is really about safeguarding the kids which people often misunderstand. It is NOT about lazy staff who cba. The staff are not involved in taking the decision, it is done in conjunction with the education authority, the governors and the Headteacher and it is always due to health and safety reasons. Sometimes a school has to close if not enough staff get in, and then there aren't enough staff to cover all the classes.

My dh couldn't get to work today, so worked from home. Schools don't have that option.

VBisme Mon 21-Jan-13 17:40:14

Our local school closed because the footpaths weren't gritted and it would force children to walk in the road. (Very steep hills around here).

badguider Mon 21-Jan-13 17:45:26

I missed school about 1 or 2 days a winter in the 1980s. I remember one morning being stuck on the school bus till 1pm in gridlock on the way to school, being turned round as we arrived and getting home exactly when we would normally have at about 4:30 having spent all day on the bus sad

thebody Mon 21-Jan-13 17:46:22

Schools have to close if enough staff don't turn up for work.

Remember just because you live in catchment doesn't mean staff do.

I am absolutely amazed at the amount of people who seem to want to preen themselves because they 'powered' through the snow, against police advise and end up clogging up roads with abandoned cars so emergency vehicles can't get through. You arnt heroic your a pain in the arse.

Have a bloody snow day and keep your kids safe.

Why risk skidding and killing your children for one bloody day.

44SoStartingOver Mon 21-Jan-13 17:47:55

I am ten other staff members got a text yesterday saying we were expected even if the school was closed!

Everyone else got a paid day off. Luckily I am not bitter grin

GoingBackToSchool Mon 21-Jan-13 17:52:52

At the school which I work in, the HT has a number of staff he needs in order to 'run' the school - ie meet national legal ratios, statemented children etc. If enough staff call in to say they can't make it and the number of available staff falls below the number the HT needs, the school shuts. Simple as. It's quite sensible I think. If a child really can't egt in due to safety reasons, I don't think he'd pressure them into coming.

cricketballs Mon 21-Jan-13 18:23:15

for those of you who are mentioned gritting paths etc to allow students to enter the school safely and therefore the school can open - what about there students have to go in case of a fire, what about access for emergency services?

A school is a large community which needs to consider these aspects, so its not just about getting to school but also the safety of everyone whilst they are there

wherearemysocka Mon 21-Jan-13 18:47:02

A couple of years ago it was snowing as people were getting up. My head had come in from a lot of stick the previous week for closing and decided to open. The result was chaos. I managed to go two miles in two hours and they had to send the children home again. All those people who drove hundreds of miles to get to work, did they arrive at their normal time? Did all their colleagues? No good turning up late if you're a teacher.

merrymouse Mon 21-Jan-13 19:16:07

I thought it was all to do with health and safety and ice.

The year before last DS's school was open on the day it snowed, open the next day (staff outside with shovels breaking through ice), but then gave up the fight on day 3.

ouryve Mon 21-Jan-13 19:46:33

VBisme - most councils don't grit footpaths, unless it's a busy shopping area.

In our village, there is one main "priority 1" road straight through that is kept as clear as possible. Gritters and ploughs were out on that hourly today - it's several inches deep in slush at the moment. There's a priority 2 road down through the estate towards the school, as that's a bus route through the village. it wasn't gritted at all in 2010 when grit was running low. The road itself outside the school isn't ever gritted because it's not a through road and not a us route. Any footpath clearing and gritting is done by residents and shopkeepers, apart form outside the aged miners homes where the street wardens do it.

Anyhow, DS1 brought home some worksheets and a letter saying to check twitter or the school website after 7am. It's snowed all day here and is pretty hard going. DH got stuck and had to spend half an hour digging himself out just trying to get to our garage on this:

ProphetOfDoom Mon 21-Jan-13 19:57:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tinuviel Mon 21-Jan-13 20:05:39

I had days off and early finishes in South Leicestershire back in the late 1970s/early 1980s - it was fab and we loved it. But that was secondary and a lot of us were bussed in as it was a rural area and the coach companies made the decision, not the school.

Our school sent kids home today as the heating/hot water wasn't working and apparently you can't keep kids in if there is no hot water but it's fine for adults, so staff had to stay and do marking/preparation etc. Heating won't be fixed so apart from Y11 exams, no pupils are in but staff are expected to be there as they have a small part of the school now with heating.

LaQueen Mon 21-Jan-13 20:08:02

"I hate this competitive, who-is-the most-macho- attitude that the snow seems to bing out in some people, particulary HTs who want to be known as 'the one that always stays open."

Lecce I very much doubt, knowing her as well as I do, that our HT gives a monkey's about appearing macho. She just thinks that 4 inches of snow simply isn't enough reason to close the school.

LaQueen Mon 21-Jan-13 20:14:16

"lecce I don't think the HTs who simply shut down are necessarily to be commended for thinking of their staff.

If that were the case then why aren't hospitals closing down? Or police stations? Or children's homes? Surely all those staff need to be kept safe? Or are teachers more fragile?"

Word yes, quite. Or are teachers somehow less able to travel/navigate in snowy conditions than other workers?

LaQueen Mon 21-Jan-13 20:24:55

"I was really responding to another post which was all about a HT and her no-nonsense attitude and I was reading it from a teacher's perspective and thinking that she hadn't thought about her staff."

lecce our no nonsense HT is actually very well respected by her staff - for very good reason. But, I don't think it too uncaring of her to expect her staff to come into work eventhough there's 4 inches of snow on the ground...and luckily her staff agree.

She certainly wouldn't expect staff to battle through atrocious conditions to get to school...but 4 inches of snow...not really atrocious is it?

drownangels Mon 21-Jan-13 20:37:08

I would imagine schools in my area are more cautious than ever. About two winters ago a primary school girl slipped on ice in the school grounds and died.

BeanJuice Mon 21-Jan-13 20:53:54

drownangels that's really sad sad

I can only think though that there's just as much risk of that happening when they're off school sledging and playing.

drownangels Mon 21-Jan-13 20:57:30

BeanJuice you are right about thee being as much risk if they are elsewhere sledging and the like but if anything happened off the schools premises the school won't be responsible IYSWIM

orangeandlemons Mon 21-Jan-13 21:09:57

For the last time! It isn't about the teachers it's about the kids. So teacher's aren't more fragile, but kids are. Teachers are a by product of this

neverputasockinatoaster Mon 21-Jan-13 21:51:35

I'm a teacher and I was at work today. My kids were at school.

I travelled about 15 miles to get in. I didn't consider not going because the snow where I am is not that bad, I drive on main roads once I'm off my estate and I have winter tyres. However the roads weren't gritted....

The town I work in had 2 schools closed - one is a special school and had transport issues and the other has a high proportion of staff living a fair distance away.

One of my colleagues lives a fair old drive away. She was struggling to get in but was told turn up or not get paid........

I'm torn on this one. I do feel some schools close much too quickly BUT I don't feel we should travel if we are likely to put ourselves in danger. I couldn't have reported to my local school because it was closed!

alistron1 Mon 21-Jan-13 22:24:54

I'm quite old and can remember schools closing in the 80's because of heavy snow. On Friday we had snow predicted here, in the morning it wasn't snowing so a lot of schools decided to open. By 10 am many if them were closing as conditions deteriorated. My daughters school was in a situation where no buses were running from it and many of the children had very long walks home in heavy snow. My daughters journey took about an hour and a half. Today (after loads more snow over the weekend) the school closed - if it hasn't, given the state if the roads here I'd have advised her to stay at home.

Luckily my daughter is 16, but I shudder to think how she'd have coped with Friday as a little Y7 eleven year old.

Pupil safety (and this includes considering how they will get home in the event of bad weather etc) should be at the heart of school life. And 'macho/can do' heads who are determined to open at any cost clearly do not have the kids best interests at heart.

Where I live the advice from the police and council today was to only travel if necessary. Easing the traffic on the roads today meant that essential workers/services could do what they needed to do.

Pixel Tue 22-Jan-13 01:07:38

I don't know exactly what radius special schools take their children from but is it really that much more than an hour?

It does normally take ds an hour to get to school on the school transport yes, but that isn't really the point. Ds got sent home early from school on friday when the snow started, but by the time the taxi got back here the road was impassable. We are on a steep hill (which is a bus route but never gritted so we are always cut off but that's a different story) and the taxi/minibus couldn't get up it so dh walked down to meet it. Poor ds has limited mobility and he was frozen by the time he'd struggled home but at least he can walk as dh would never have got his wheelchair up the hill. Tbh I was just grateful they got him as close as they did, imagine being stuck somewhere on an icy road with a taxi full of severely autistic children!
His school is on top of a steep hill also, they generally get snow there when we don't get any so I imagine they had it much worse.
The other aspect to consider is that they need much higher staff ratios at the school, a lot of the classes have 1:1 and it only takes a few staff to be unable to make it in to make the situation unsafe (especially for children with medical needs, epilepsy etc).

sashh Tue 22-Jan-13 03:48:08

In Wales a school bus slipped off the road, thankfully no one was hurt but it was a close call.

I think the main reason schools shut is safety. Is it safe for staff and pupils to

a) get to school
b) stay in school
c) get home again

If it is safe then you can start looking at staffing ratios.

lecce Tue 22-Jan-13 06:46:45

4 inches of snow...not really atrocious is it?

No but it is enough to make driving conditions pretty atrocious. Three years ago I set off for work in thick snow that was still falling. I got what would usually have been 5 minutes from the house and got a text to say that we were shut. It took me two hours to travel that 5 minute distance back home. Most of it was an inner-city ringroad but it was rammed. It is not sensible for people to be risking that sort of thing just to save having a day off school - especially where young children are concerned.

Also, how does anyone know 4 inches is it? If snow continues, or is forecast to continue, then heads need to think about how everyone is going to get home.

OrangeLily Tue 22-Jan-13 07:05:06

2 years ago our school was shut for a week because of snow, the day it reopened we all made the huge journey in. A 40 minute journey took 2 hours but fair enough. It then shut mid morning. However lots of roads then shut and many teachers were stuck on roads in blizzards in their cars.

We also had the school buses cancel stranding lots of kids in the school. With parents stranded on shut roads too.

It was a mess. I very nearly didn't get home that day. Lots of kids involved in dangerous situations on the way home too. I got home in the evening having left in the morning. Friends of ours were stuck on the M8 overnight.

YABU hmm

frogspoon Tue 22-Jan-13 07:07:43

It isn't about the teachers it's about the kids.

So would it take the death of a teacher driving to/from work on a snowy day to make schools think about the practicalities of opening the school in this weather when the roads are not gritted. Or perhaps a teacher slipping over in the ungritted car park and breaking a leg/ having a concussion and suing the school?

In the school I work in the paths bewteen the buildings were gritted. The local roads and staff car park were not. The school did open and to my knowledge fortunately there were no incidents.

wordfactory Tue 22-Jan-13 09:06:34

But every other worker in the land had to deal with the same conditions. Every other worker in the land had to make an adult decision about travelling.

I don;t know anyone except my teacher friends who had the decision made for them.

merrymouse Tue 22-Jan-13 10:19:28

I really do think its all about insurance and liability.

Most people aren't responsible for so many children when they go to work.

Most of the people in a school can't be held legally responsible for their own safety and can't be left to their own devices should their travel arrangements break down.

The legal situation has changed since the 70's and 80's. You might not agree with the changes, but you can't expect teachers to ignore them.

lecce Tue 22-Jan-13 10:26:28

And have you told your 'teacher friends' your views about their lack of common sense and possible unfitness to teach? Isn't it blindingly obvious that the reason that teachers are the only ones who have the decision made for them is because pupils have to have the decision made for them, so by default, teachers do too? We don't really need to start banging on about how fragile and ridiculous teachers are do we?

JakeBullet Tue 22-Jan-13 10:42:54

Most work places don't have to consider people who are vulnerable. Children are vulnerable and like it or not Head teachers have to consider this. Add the ridiculous and risky parking which goes in outside schools and add icy conditions then potentially you have a problem if you DO open and a serious accident occurs. The same people dismissing the Head as "precious" would be asking "why on earth did the school open in these conditions".

lovelyladuree Tue 22-Jan-13 10:44:44

A day later, and the school have re-opened and the paths are roads are trecherous. Not one path was cleared in the school grounds, but there was a wipeboard outside with a message asking parents to return with shovels to help clear the paths. So, despite no change to the driving conditions, all teachers miraculously made it into work today. Heroes.

JakeBullet Tue 22-Jan-13 10:53:02

All ours have been done loverlyladee, and they opened yesterday too....just a bit later to allow everyone to get in safely and to avoid the rush hour.
Presumably you have kept your children off today if you think the roads and school paths are treacherous. It's likely the the decision to close yesterday had nothing to do with the teachers and everything to do with the Head. No doubt if the head decided to open yesterday the teachers would have "miraculously made it in" then as well.

RooneyMara Tue 22-Jan-13 11:43:34

We made it into school today as our lovely neighbour cleared the drive. And the roads are Ok-ish.

The school playground though is absolutely covered with icy snow, more cruncy than icy at the moment but I dread what it will be like if it freezes overnight.

Bloody lethal. They have a useless caretaker though, what did I expect...I think they will remain open even if it does freeze, just hope they don't send the kids out to play on it.

FreckledLeopard Tue 22-Jan-13 11:54:09

DD's school has been open the entire time. She couldn't go on Friday as the minibus that collects her couldn't run, but everything back to normal yesterday (thankfully).

Her school also has boarders, but I think the fact that we pay so much in fees is a consideration too - at the end of the day the school needs to make money and keep the support of the parents. If it closed because of a few inches of snow, I don't think anyone would be very happy about it.

I had to come to work on Friday in the snow (with DD in tow) - I don't see why schools have to shut when businesses struggle to stay open.

Yfronts Tue 22-Jan-13 12:14:05

It is necessary if the roads are sheet ice as they are here. I'm a confident able driver but the ice is just too dangerous and not worth the risk. Safety has to come first.

Yfronts Tue 22-Jan-13 12:15:13

Even the 4 by 4's have struggled with the roads here - and the school is too far to walk

RooneyMara Tue 22-Jan-13 12:17:17

Actually I just walked down to the HV clinic (and out again - way too busy!) and the pavements are shocking.

I'd no idea what they might be like yesterday when we stayed at home, but I'm really glad we did now - it was well dodgy with the pram, would have been terrifying on foot with baby in a sling.

I feel justified now that we didn't go to school.

wordfactory Tue 22-Jan-13 12:43:04

No lecce pupils do not need the decision made for them by the HT.

Unless it really is not feasible to open a school (boiler problems etc), then parents are perfectly capable of making the decision as to whether the journey is too difficult. We do not need another adult to make that decision for us!

Both DC's schools were open with the (obvious) proviso that any parent or member of staff who felt the journey too perilous should use their own common sense. And that is what we all did!

This is exactly the same decision that every nurse/doctor/social worker/mechanic/waiter made...all my teacher friends were of the opinion that this is also a decision they were perfectly capable of making, what with them being intelligent adults and all.

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 13:22:58

"And 'macho/can do' heads who are determined to open at any cost clearly do not have the kids best interests at heart."

Alistron our HT isn't macho, but she does have a pro-active attitude (tahnk goodness). She made it clear that it was purely at the parents discretion whether they wanted their children to come to school - but, the school would be open for those who wanted to come.

Only, only, only on MN could a HT who kept the school open for those pupils who wanted to come on snowy days be deemed uncaring, self centered and not caring about their pupils [puts head in hands...]

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 13:30:38

As for the playground/school paths being snowy/icy...I really don't have a problem with that. I see it no different to our DDs playing out in our garden, or being on a ski holiday, or even walking to the village shop. They're just as likely to slip over.

And as for the insurance issues, anyone know how schools go on in countries which have real snow for most of the winter? Are they're terrified of a teacher/pupil slipping in some slush at the school gate?

merrymouse Tue 22-Jan-13 14:06:51

I suspect that in countries where they have snow for many months of the year every year, both the school and the children are a little better prepared, e.g. schools are designed for snow, all children have proper snow clothes and snow boots, parents have snow chains on cars, public transport infrastructure designed to run in snow.

Of course there is a cost to all this - you pays your money, you takes your pick.

Equally, children who spend more than a couple of days every couple of years managing themselves in snow are a little better equipped to handle it safely.

merrymouse Tue 22-Jan-13 14:19:58

wordfactory, if a teacher uses their common sense and decides that they can't go into work, who will look after their class for the day? If they decide that at 2.30 the transport situation is looking a little dicey, can they leave their reception class to fend for themselves? If a pupil can't get home can the caretaker just close up at 5pm and suggest they find a travel lodge?

It's not really the same as a waiter not turning up for work or a doctor or social worker cancelling their appointments for the afternoon.

I imagine that individual schools make individual decisions on snow days based on their staff, their pupils, their school building, their parents and their budget. However, that does not mean that its sensible for another school down the road to make the same decision.

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 14:43:11

merry but I have seen schools in the USA/Canda and they look very similar to schools in the UK - as do their play areas. They don't seem to have speshul snow-resistant playing areas, or classrooms.

Equally, children here in the UK are very easy to equip with a warm padded jacket, wellies, hats and scarves - infact most children have these items anyway for the Winter, even if we don't see any snow. I don't think they need any more specialized, speshul snow-gear than that, do they?

And, I very much doubt that children in much snowier climes learn speshul techniques for walking/running in snow do they? Really? I would hazard that the basic dymnamics are very quickly mastered by most children e.g. Ooops, it's slippery...whheeeeeeeeeeeeee...right let's make a snowman...who is up for a snowball fight? grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Jan-13 14:49:47

But presumably the head has to make a call on whether there will be a critical mass of teachers there who can make sure the school runs reasonably effectively for the day or not - and can't just wait and see who turns up?

If half the staff in an office can't make it in, the other half can probably get on with their own business relatively simply, but if half the staff can't, the other half can't cover all those lessons and all those children.

I don't know, I think it's as silly to say 'closing schools isn't necessary at all' as it would be to say 'closing all schools is necessary whenever there is snow'. A head teacher is there to make just this sort of call, and I doubt they do it lightly either way, since they must know how much flak they'll probably get no matter which way it goes!

merrymouse Tue 22-Jan-13 15:21:21

? I am not sure where these school that you have seen were - Los Angeles?. The only point of comparison I have is ski resorts. Buildings and towns are certainly designed for the snow, in a way that is not considered necessary in Basingstoke, for instance. I know that in some parts of Canada they deal with the weather by not going outside when it gets really cold, so I assume schools are designed to accommodate this.

I don't think many self respecting Scandanavians and Canadians wear £10 Dunlops in the snow.

Having said that, they have snow days in the US too.

Jux Tue 22-Jan-13 15:34:46

The primary school closest to us is approached by a very steeply sloping road. It ices over at the drop of a hat and becomes lethal. I expect a good 50% of pupils, parents and teachers would gain broken bones if the school hadn't closed on Friday.

DD's school (secondary) is approached by an even steeper slope. When it is iced up it too is lethal. Very sensibly, it was closed on Friday.

Both schools have been open this week, though. It is now snowing quite hard again, so I suspect they'll both be closed tomorrow.

Pixel Tue 22-Jan-13 15:35:38

I do think dd's school should have been open, it is a secondary school, they aren't babies and a bit further to walk than normal wouldn't have killed them. It's only a half hour walk (in snow conditions) from the nearest main road where the buses were still running. DD went out and did her paper round so what's the difference?
I went to that same school and conditions are no better or worse than they were then if we had a bit of snow. In fact they are probably better because they no longer have to sit in freezing, leaky 'huts' to have lessons.
I wonder if the instant communication we have nowadays makes a difference? While I love that we can get a text telling us if the school is open rather than having to listen to the local radio and hope we don't miss the bit where they mention 'our' school, as we did when dd was smaller, it must mean that closing is an easier decision. In the olden days my youth, the schools couldn't make contact with parents easily (we didn't all have phones, I remember the excitement when ours was installed) and it was assumed that people would try to make it into school somehow, so they had to open.

wordfactory Tue 22-Jan-13 16:13:23

But nit the schools that did remain open (both my DCs for example) must have done just that.
The HTs couldn't have known the exact number of staff/pupils who could/couldn't make it in.

And it worked out just fine...

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 16:37:52

"? I am not sure where these school that you have seen were - Los Angeles?. "

merry no, East Coast, New York and surrounds. My friend is currently living in Princeton for a year. The schools there have 4 walls, a roof and central heating...other than that, I don't think they have any speshul snow friendly designs - I'd be interested to hear what they are, if you know differently?

British schools also have to accommodate children when they can't go outside, too...such as very wet weather etc. I don't think they have to have speshully designed schools for that, do they?

I also doubt any Canadians/Scandinavians wear £10 Dunlops in the snow...but to be honest I really don't see that here either. Most children wear their wellies or boots, don't they hmm

ouryve Tue 22-Jan-13 16:41:09

Most of the schools in our area did end up closed today.

In the last big freeze, a couple of years ago, a few schools had so much snow on their roofs (well over a foot) that they were falling in. There was also a problem of big lumps of snow falling off the roof onto the kids (lots of old victorian buildings with steep roofs) and gigantic icicles which were dangerous to walk under. It's not just the risk of slipping on uncleared pavements that needs to be worried about.

merrymouse Tue 22-Jan-13 16:44:47

Actually, I'd imagine that Head Teachers did try to ascertain how many staff would be able to come in if it snowed, and whether they would would be able to cover for missing staff. Given that there was panic buying in supermarkets and gritters on the streets on Thursday and snow had been forecast for about a week, you'd be a pretty rubbish head if you just waited for people to turn up on Friday morning.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Jan-13 17:06:03

Ours stayed open too WOrd but I think there probably are definite things you can look at to know who will be in - for example if two buses from villages have said they're not operating, then you already know that's a big chunk gone.

Unless we are suggesting that HTs make it up off the tops of their heads on a random whim because they fancy a 'snow day' themselves (and I'd always thought of that phrase as a US import, actually), then it seems most likely that they probably consider transport for pupils, likelihood of weather worsening during the day, staff availability and heating and whatever else it is a HT has to think of which thankfully I don't, and then make a sensible decision. Why would one assume they're just being randomly stupid and that no school need ever close? Seem illogical and unduly ready to think the worst, I think.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Jan-13 17:10:51

Pixel I think you are right that the decision to close is probably easier to make because it can be communicated via text etc - I well remember at 12 sitting all morning in a CDT room waiting to be allowed home, watching the blizzard outside - the decision to close having been made at about 9.05 when all the buses didn't get there, but everyone's parents having to be telephoned at their places of work before we could be allowed to leave! They must have seen at 8 that it was going to be bad, but didn't take the decision, and couldn't have communicated it - and in that situation now, a text would probably be sent at 8am to save everyone the pointless kerfuffle!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Jan-13 17:11:26

(at 12 years old, I mean - not midday. We got out just about in time for lunch....)

merrymouse Tue 22-Jan-13 17:17:23

£10 green Dunlop is the standard wellington boot where I live.

Generally public buildings in areas where it snows for large parts of the year have flooring and doormats that accommodate people trampling snow in and out, and sufficient cloak rooms. They also have public transport that runs through the snow and cars with snow chains, so travel isn't a problem and streets and pavements are regularly gritted. As I said before, this costs money.

Interestingly, New York Schools don't have to have 'recess' and some have very little outside space. They do, however, have snow days.

Personally, I am relaxed about my own children falling over in the snow, but I can understand why a teacher would be less relaxed about being legally responsible for other people's children falling over on ice.

(Is your spell check broken by the way?)

perfectstorm Tue 22-Jan-13 18:13:32

If the local nurseries around here opened no problems, I don't see why the schools couldn't. Similarly, I don't see, if parents were advised by text message that the school would be closed, why they couldn't be told to send the kids in with a change of footwear, and a towel.

Not all parents/kids would comply, but most would. And some big blue paper towels could wipe the worst of the water off the shoes on those kids without slippers/plimsolls/shoes-instead-of-wellies.

I agree that it would be crazy to adapt to snow as it needs to be in Canada or Scandinavia. But there really hasn't been much snow around here. In fact it's far more dangerous this week, with all the ice, than it was on the snowy day, but the schools are all currently open.

orangeandlemons Tue 22-Jan-13 19:13:50

Big blue papaer towels to wipe off excess water shock. There's 2000 kids in my school. How long would that take? Where would they do it? |Where would the towels be stored and disposed of?

My school was open today, and swimming in water again, with all the snow trudged in. I think what people don't get is the size of some of these places. They are the size of villages witheverybody moving round every hour. How could we possibly process towel wiping through the 1 main entrance and 1 smaller entrance to our school?

IAmLouisWalsh Tue 22-Jan-13 20:36:56

It is much easier to close or partially close BEFORE all the kids get in than to send them home halfway through the day.

For example, last time we had horrendous snow, we had KS4 only in school - announced at 7.15am. Three KS3 kids who caught the bus in arrived. They then couldn't get a bus home as they were running an hour and a half late.

So, in a situation where there are maybe 10 staff on site by 8.30am, with potentially 800 kids due by 9am, then a late start is an option - but with no idea when people will get in, you risk having to send kids home again because there aren't enough staff to supervise.

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:05:30

"(Is your spell check broken by the way?)"

No merry my spelling mistakes are entirely of my own creation...but consider me suitably chastisened by your superior spell checking ability smile

I think a parent who lets their child go to school in bad weather in £10 Dunlops, rather than £10 wellies is daft and impractical.

Surely most public buildings, the world over, have heavy duty flooring and substantial matting designed to withstand the wear and tear of millions of feet and wet weather hmm

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 22-Jan-13 21:09:33

I shouldn't think inadequate flooring or matting is very often the main reason a school is closed. I think heads probably think about all the very sensible points raised in this thread, such as that above, and make what seems like the best decision for all concerned.

I think it's a bit perverse to assume they could never have a good reason to make the decision not to open. I do wonder why some are so keen to do that.

LaQueen Tue 22-Jan-13 21:12:10

Nit I've worked in plenty of schools and I think often they are closed with good reason.

However, I have also worked in plenty of schools and I think often they are closed at the drop of a hat, too.

IAmLouisWalsh Tue 22-Jan-13 21:12:15

My school is a public building with totally inadequate flooring thanks to the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future. Some of the kids don't have coats, let alone wellies. One pair of soaking wet trainers, maybe.

perfectstorm Tue 22-Jan-13 21:39:04

Big blue papaer towels to wipe off excess water . There's 2000 kids in my school. How long would that take? Where would they do it? |Where would the towels be stored and disposed of?

Is your contextual reading that poor when teaching?

wordfactory Tue 22-Jan-13 21:39:21

nit I don't think HTs make random decisions but I do think some make very negative ones.

Sure there will be some HTs who have absolute reason to close, but many will take the decision based on fear of any risk. This might happen, or that might happen.

In our area the snow really has not been bad. The roads are clear. The buses to the independent schools ran and on time. Public transport ran, only slightly late. Trains still ran in and out of London (and they're notorious for being cancelled at the sniff of inclement weather). As far as I could see, not one shop, restaurant or business was closed...

But the majority of schools still took the decision to close. No wonder the parents were annoyed!

deleted203 Tue 22-Jan-13 21:44:02

Schools predominantly close because of an issue with staffing, rather than it not being possible for kids to get there, in my experience. I teach in a secondary school 32 miles away and the majority of our staff are coming in from roughly that far. School was closed on Mon purely because it was clear that it would be dangerous for many staff to attempt the journey when warnings were being issued to only travel if essential. Roads are rural, hilly and not gritted too well. People who remember 'in my day' forget that people were less mobile. In my day the teachers didn't live 40 miles from school - they were mostly local-ish.

VBisme Tue 22-Jan-13 21:45:23

Surely the Dunlops referred to are wellingtons, like this rather than the green flash tennis shoes like this.

joanofarchitrave Tue 22-Jan-13 21:58:30

My school closed for almost a week I think in 1986. I was doing A-levels at the time so worked at home. I was so bored I put on my wellies, went to town and lost my virginity. So, exceptionally educational.

ShellyBoobs Tue 22-Jan-13 21:59:01

Have a bloody snow day and keep your kids safe.

Just exactly what is a 'snow day', though?

Is it just a day where you say, "sod it, I'll stay at home", instead of going to work?

Not everyone can do that.

Do you not have to go to work thebody?

dayshiftdoris Tue 22-Jan-13 22:06:43

My school is a public building with totally inadequate flooring thanks to the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future. Some of the kids don't have coats, let alone wellies. One pair of soaking wet trainers, maybe.

Right so for a school to be open when it's snowing there needs to be the following:

*Clear main and side roads leading to school
*Clear pavements
*Buses running
*Local staff who are not risking their personal safety to get to work
*Decent size cloakroom
*Good flooring
*Every child to have a pair of wellies and a coat...

Thank goodness hospital staff don't have this mentality!

Pixel Tue 22-Jan-13 23:34:25

If the main problem is teachers living too far away, maybe we need a system for extreme weather where teachers report to the school nearest to their home. Head teachers could have a list of possible 'volunteers' to call on before deciding if it was necessary to shut the school. It would be simple enough if it was set up in advance.
I realise that a teacher probably wouldn't be able to teach a class of strange children at the drop of a hat, but it shouldn't be beyond them to provide primary school children with a fun and productive day, they might even learn something that they wouldn't have otherwise. smile. Older children don't have the same teacher for all their lessons anyway, so chances are they would still get most of their lessons and the volunteer could fill in the gaps, perhaps supervising revision or something. Personally I wouldn't even be adverse to the children watching a fun dvd if it was just for 1 or 2 lessons and stopped them feeling hard done by for having to go to school! They would still learn the valuable lesson that making the effort can bring unexpected rewards wink.

Pixel Tue 22-Jan-13 23:40:16

Think that should be 'averse' blush.

deleted203 Wed 23-Jan-13 03:37:01

This would not be possible in many schools, Pixel, due to CRB requirements. Even though I'm a secondary teacher and have an advanced CRB cert. my local primary school would not accept me as a supply teacher for the day without requiring a separate CRB check. (God knows why - we work for the same LEA).

JakeBullet Wed 23-Jan-13 06:49:13

Thing is....and possibly someone has mentioned his up thread; it's not just a case of opening the school is it? It's the knowledge that rush hour is made much much worse by snow and ice. It's knowing that the school run makes rush hour worse in any case......just think how much easier journeys are on school holidays at that time of day. It's knowing that opening the school will add to the risks by introducing more traffic to the roads in difficult conditions.

My DS's school coped with this by opening at 10:30am instead which dealt with the "extra traffic" issue, gave everyone time to get there and ensured that the day had had a chance to warm up a bit. I am in SE Essex though and we had far less snow than some parts of the country.

merrymouse Wed 23-Jan-13 07:51:41

Yes, standard green Wellington boots. Although clearly some families do rely on their trainers in the snow.

merrymouse Wed 23-Jan-13 07:58:16

@Sowornout In my day teachers smoked in the playground, whacked the children and there was no such thing as a risk assessment. The cultural and legal environment has completely changed.

(Although I can certainly remember that even then schools closed in unusually adverse weather conditions)

boredSAHMof4 Wed 23-Jan-13 08:14:37

This is a strange thread.
The gist seems to be because the roads where you live were passable,despite heavy snow, you think that must be the case everywhere.
Also I know 2 children who broke a leg one school premises let alone getting there and back in the snowy winter 2 years ago.One on a slippy path to the science block and another on ice that had been brought in on a shoe to the toilets.The second one was a very bad break involving weeks in hospital and the best pat ofa year to heal.Fortunately (for the LEA) the child's parent was the COG so they didn't get sued.

perfectstorm Wed 23-Jan-13 08:23:40

The weirdest thing about this thread is people extrapolating their own situation and then insisting it applies to all.

Some schools plainly can't open. Nobody is arguing the toss there. Our local school? Well, the catchment area is half a mile. It has 300 kids in each building, with total separation in every way between them (infant/primary). It's a reasonably affluent area with involved parents. All of whom were texted, to advise closure, so all of whom could have been asked to bring slippers or thick socks, if the child had no wellies, and shoes in a bag with wellies left at the door, otherwise, plus a towel. As mentioned, for the VERY SMALL number whose parents wouldn't or couldn't comply, blue paper towels to clean shoes would be fine.

And the snow was so light, you could see the ground beneath it.

Nurseries didn't close. Workplaces didn't close. Only all the local schools. Secondaries? Okay, maybe they had to, I don't have the facts so can't comment. Primaries? Well, I can only quote the local preschool head when I dropped my child off: "Good excuse for a day off, if you can get it."

Bunbaker Wed 23-Jan-13 08:25:02

"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."

But back then people lived a lot closer to school/workplaces. It was pretty unusual to have the long commutes that we have today.

"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"

I agree Clouds. I live in a close off a cul-de-sac on a hill. We never get gritters in our close. I managed to get the car out yesterday for the first time since last Thursday. My car is a modest Ford Focus, but has low profile tyres that are useless in icy weather.

Chelvis Wed 23-Jan-13 09:05:58

My DH is a teacher and his school closed because

a) not all the staff could get in and they couldn't meet ratios - I know some people say 'well, we had classes of 40/50/60 in the snow of 19**' but there weren't children in mainstream schools then who needed 1-on-1 supervision because of LD / violent behaviour / toileting needs. There was a child at his previous school who had to be supervised 1-on-1 constantly because he had previously physically and sexually assaulted other children - I wouldn't have wanted him mixed in with a class of 40+ with a teacher who didn't know him.

b) many parents - not all, just quite a few at his school - are willing to sue at the drop of a hat. They threaten it for any minor problem at school and there is a very strong 'where there's a blame, there's a claim' culture. They've been sued for minor PE accidents and playground slips, they WOULD get claims if anyone slipped in snow.

c) the head cares about her staff and doesn't feel it's reasonable for them to have to do long or dangerous drives (DH's is over 10 miles, partially along country roads), even if the majority of pupils could get in.

wordfactory Wed 23-Jan-13 09:31:49

Boredsahmof4 - that's an odd reading of the thread. Has anyone said all schools should open? I haven't seen that. The reality is that some schools clearly should close, but there are many that should not. And parents of those schools and rightly annoyed. Its very interesting to see the difference in peoples natures when there's a bit of difficulty though. A rather lovely case study for some bright sparks lol.

boredSAHMof4 Wed 23-Jan-13 09:43:10

Word factory have you read the title of the thread ' to think that closing schools actually isn't necessary at all?

Ok then the rather obvious cons she missed
* being injured whilst slipping trying to walk into school
*crashing on icy roads.
* being stranded in sub zero temperatures in the middle of nowhere because a road is impassable
* Conditions worsen and the school is stuck with hundreds of children on its hands overnight.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 09:43:21

Well, the OP does say in as many words that closing schools 'actually isn't necessary at all' - that's what I've been concerned with, and that's what I think is silly.

I could not, of course, claim to have any idea whether there were schools which closed and shouldn't have, any more than I know whether there were any schools which really ought to have closed but didn't. To pretend to seems a bit daft.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 09:43:51

x posted - exactly, Bored!

Backtobedlam Wed 23-Jan-13 09:51:11

What a lot of people seem to forget is that schools are not there to provide free childcare for parents, they are there to educate children and look after their welfare. As a head imagine you open the school in trecherous conditions and a family is involved in an accident trying to get there, or a car skids into a group of children on their way to school? It w Some journeys are unavoidable, working in a hospital or fire brigade for example. Children having a few days off school isn't going to damage their education,

Backtobedlam Wed 23-Jan-13 09:52:10

Sorry posted to isn't going to damage their education, and with children if in doubt I'd rather not take the risk.

mummytime Wed 23-Jan-13 09:58:07

Sometimes it's not the schools fault, it could be the local council. About 5 years ago someone in our local council seemed to take a decision to save money by buying less grit and reducing/stopping gritting some roads. Then when the bad snows happened 2 and 3 years ago almost every school in the county closed. Why? Roads which had been previously always passable, were now abandoned to snow - my kids used one to sledge down - part of the town centre one way system. In other cases you could get to within 100 metres f the school, but as soon as you turned of a main road, the side roads were ice-rinks and there was no where to park. Most bus routes had to be stopped/curtailed as there was at least one impassable road on the route.
Last year and this year the council reversed the decision, they grit the old pattern of roads, and try to grit the access roads to schools. They also bought equipment to turn refuse trucks into snow ploughs etc.
Result very few schools are/have been closed for more than 1 day.

So don't forget the councils' responsibilities towards school closures.

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 09:58:50

My university is closed for the 5th day in a row. I honestly think it's ridiculous. I live in a very flat, very urban area, there are currently no problems reported on the roads apart from the usual slow-moving traffic. People who have driven in have reported that there is no real problem.

We get snow in the UK more or less every year. People need to learn to drive in it. I don't buy all this "nervous driver" stuff. If you're a nervous driver, take the bus or the train, don't put us all in danger in your car that you're not competent to drive.

I come from a very rural, very hilly, very northerly area. 90% of children have to come in on buses, most of them from at least 10 miles away through hills. We get inches of snow every year without fail, and yes, sometimes the schools have to close. If the schools closed every time we got an inch or two, however, they'd be closed most of the winter.

I think a hell of a lot of people wake up and think it's a good excuse for a day off. Who can prove that your road is passable or not?

Lancelottie Wed 23-Jan-13 10:08:17

Umm, take what bus and train?

We're five miles from the nearest train station, and there's one bus through the village an hour (which doesn't go to the train station).

OBface Wed 23-Jan-13 10:23:53

My DD goes to Kindergarten on a farm in the middle of nowhere - it (proudly) hasn't closed in the 23 years it has been open. All the other schools in the area have been shut since the beginning of the week. Says it all.

merrymouse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:33:57

Odd for a university to close - not as though their students need supervision or can't just go back home by themselves if a lecture is cancelled.

merrymouse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:38:59

Anyway, basically I would agree with what Nit's last post.

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 10:50:24

Umm, take the buses and trains that are all running fine in our area.

merrymouse Wed 23-Jan-13 10:56:22

Your sure there isn't some kind of planned holiday at your university?

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 11:03:11

Oh yes, you're right, I completely forgot about that holiday and misread the information on the website and misread the email that I got.

merrymouse Wed 23-Jan-13 13:11:18

sorry, that was supposed to be a joke.

My main point was that a university closing is more comparable to a company deciding to close down for the day, as people who attend a university are adults.

It's not really comparable to a school where most of the people in the building are children and staff ratios have to be maintained for their safety.

LaQueen Wed 23-Jan-13 13:28:16

I'm sure there are some HTs who very regretfully close, having explored all the options, and then made a judgement call.

And I am sure there are some HTs who close with very little regret (if any), without exploring any other options.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 13:39:44

Why are you so sure of that? Seems an odd conclusion to reach unless you know of the thought processes of the heads in question. Surely a headteacher is more likely to think it through than not? I don't know why people are so keen to think otherwise, based on - as far as I can see - nothing.

Justaholyfool you seemed to be saying that people generally 'in this country' needed to learn to drive in the snow etc, and if they could not do that, then to get buses or trains. Now the buses and trains in your area are probably lovely for you, but I'm not too sure how they will help all the other people who don't live there, like the posters above?

LaQueen Wed 23-Jan-13 13:43:49

Nit I'm so sure because of some of the HTs I have known/worked for.

I' not keen to think they close with little regret, it's just an observation.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 13:59:47

So all the head teachers you've known have closed without - in your opinion - exploring sufficient options or demonstrating enough regret? Ok.

perfectstorm Wed 23-Jan-13 14:32:56

She said "some". Why convert that to "all"? It completely alters the emphasis, to the point it distorts the meaning. confused

perfectstorm Wed 23-Jan-13 14:37:49

^I'm sure there are some HTs who very regretfully close, having explored all the options, and then made a judgement call."

How do you get "all" from that?

Cherriesarelovely Wed 23-Jan-13 14:58:04

I've thought about this long and hard this week. At my school we (unusually) closed for a day last week. It was the worst day weatherwise. I cannot see how the head could have made the decision to open not knowing when she or the small staff would get there (on the day we didn't close it took my colleague and I 2.5 hrs). In theory even if only half of the children had arrived but none of the staff what would happen then? In fact all of our parents supported the decision and said they would not have driven in those conditions anyway.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 23-Jan-13 14:59:28

Oh and our HT agonises about these decisions every year.

RustyBear Wed 23-Jan-13 15:04:30

" People need to learn to drive in it."
"don't put us all in danger in your car that you're not competent to drive."

How do they do the former without doing the latter?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 15:14:11

Fair point - I assume the 'some' are a significant enough amount to draw wider conclusions from, though? And that this consideration of other options, and lack of regret, is measurable?

Also - once again - the OP is about whether schools need to close or not at all.

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 15:50:17

Well Rusty how to people learn to drive?

Bit of a non-point.

Pixel Wed 23-Jan-13 16:41:54

sowornout, I see your point but that's another reason for setting it all up in advance of bad weather. Anyway, I was under the impression they were scaling back the CRB stuff to more manageable levels, guess it was just a 'plan' and nothing has actually happened if it's still the same shambles. Typical! (can't remember where I originally read it but I've just done a quick search and found this where it says "Teachers and care home workers who do require checks will have their records constantly updated so a new trawl is not required when they move jobs.")
I understand we need checks but as you say, much of it is pointless red tape and has killed common sense stone dead!

ShephardsDelight Wed 23-Jan-13 16:45:39

I'm pretty sure other countries cope better than we do with a lot of snow.

perfectstorm Wed 23-Jan-13 17:12:47

They do spend a lot of money on that coping, though. Chains for tyres, snow ploughs, etc. which we don't need, so don't bother. Sensibly enough, I think. The costs of those things would be ridiculous for what actually only happens for a day or two, every couple of years. Kind of like schools in exceptionally hot countries have air conditioning, and ours don't. For the most part, this is a very temperate country.

I suppose the simple answer is: some schools do have to close, others don't.

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 17:21:22

But perfect this has been going on for the best part of a week now. There's been snow the last 3 years that I can remember.

But I don't think England actually needs more gritters and ploughs and stuff. What it does need is to stop listening to media hysteria and thinking that an inch of snow means you can't leave the house.

Bunbaker Wed 23-Jan-13 17:39:08

"I'm pretty sure other countries cope better than we do with a lot of snow."

We all know that. We all know that they do because they get snow every winter. I'm sure that you would be the first to complain if your council tax went through the roof because your local council had spent £££ on gritters/snow ploughs/grit/salt etc and then had no snow to deal with for several winters on the trot.

One of the reasons we got caught out 2 years ago was that most of the snow clearing equipment had rusted because it hadn't been used for several years.

I want to put some of the blame on car manufacturers who think that everyone and his dog wants a car with low profile tyres. I don't, but for my last 2 cars haven't been able to find a car within my price range that I like that doesn't have them. Therefore my car slides all over the place when it snows. Luckily I do have access to public transport, but not everyone does.

perfectstorm Wed 23-Jan-13 18:54:29

Justaholy it's still pretty rare that schools close. Most in the country haven't been, this week - just on Friday. And in fairness, nobody at the start of the day knew how much snow there'd be by the end.

I've already posted that I don't think the local schools needed to at all. But others have, because they've had a lot more than an inch.

perfectstorm Wed 23-Jan-13 18:55:44

And I don't know where you live, but there was no snow here last year. There was masses the previous two, in succession, but it was so unusual nobody could believe it. And before that, there hadn't been truly heavy snow that I can recall since 2000/2001.

ShephardsDelight Wed 23-Jan-13 19:00:00

Why are you sure I would be the first to complain? confused

I would rather pay more tax ,than having to spend weeks housebound due the pavements being solid ice and just unsafe for a pram.

Hobbitation Wed 23-Jan-13 19:04:26

I can understand people finding it difficult with prams etc - was in that position myself when a foot of snow came in a few hours two years ago. No snow here last year.

But there were a number of kids who live on the same street as us - ten minutes walk from school - whose parents apparently just didn't bother to take them to school on Monday when it was open. I don't get that.

manicinsomniac Wed 23-Jan-13 19:15:42

There have been some very good cases made for closing individual schools.

I do find in interesting though that, in my area, only about 3 schools were open on Monday. But only about 3 schools were closed on Tuesday. The conditions hadn't changed. If anything it was worse on Tuesday because the roads were icier. It made me wonder if a lot of schools didn't think 'oops, if we close for 2 days people will think we're taking the piss so we'd better open'. And found that actually it was perfectly possible.

IAmLouisWalsh Wed 23-Jan-13 20:38:22

right so for a school to be open when it's snowing there needs to be the following:Clear main and side roads leading to school, Clear pavements,Buses running,Local staff who are not risking their personal safety to get to work,Decent size cloakroom, Good flooring,Every child to have a pair of wellies

Doriswe weren't closed because of the flooring - just pointing out that not all public buildings are fit for purpose.

We were closed because we didn't have enough staff to supervise the children, and could not tell with any certainty what time we would have staff in by. So it was safer to close rather than risk having too many kids and not enough staff. If we had asked kids to come in at 11.30am that would have been worse for some parents than them not coming in at all.

ShellyBoobs Wed 23-Jan-13 20:42:46

In fact all of our parents supported the decision and said they would not have driven in those conditions anyway.

Really? All of them?


frogspoon Wed 23-Jan-13 20:55:50

A local secondary school (not the one I work in) opened on Monday. A girl was hit by a car when she slipped on ice crossing the road on her way to school. She broke her arm, but considering how much more serious it could have been, I think she was extremely lucky.

The local council should have taken more care to grit the roads outside the school, and failing that if local conditions were dangerous, the school should not have opened.

RustyBear Wed 23-Jan-13 21:04:22

justaholyfool - people learn to drive by driving, they learn to drive in snow by driving in snow - so people who are incompetent at driving in snow can only get better at it by driving in snow while they are still incompetent...

thebody Wed 23-Jan-13 21:14:39

Hi Shelley, yes I do work full time in a school. I had to retrain and work around my dd.

My previous business as a successful cm ended last feb when my dd was badly injured in a crash on the way home from a school skiing trip.

So that's why I actually appreciate one snow day with my dd.

You did ask.

thebody Wed 23-Jan-13 21:25:16

Can I add the ones who criticise the school and teachers for being lazy and not bothering are the ones who would he the first to sue if Pfb fell over on the ice on the school drive.

My dd was badly hurt on a school trip, we done blame the school one jot. None if us, teachers were wonderful and one gave his life..others battled to save our girl with serious injuries.

We live in a society that sues for the least thing and teachers are damned if they open and damned if they close.

It's not that easy to just say open and be damned.

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 21:38:04

How do you know they'd be the first ones to sue, thebody ?

I hate school closures but I haven't noticed any particular litigiousness about me.

thebody Wed 23-Jan-13 22:28:35

Just.. Sorry clearly you don't understand where we as parents come from.

And why would you.

Sorry to hijack thread so off.

JustAHolyFool Wed 23-Jan-13 22:37:56

Yes, clearly my barren wombed self could never possibly form an opinion on anything related to children.

Apologies, parents. I forgot you were the only ones allowed an opinion.

thebody Wed 23-Jan-13 22:53:30

Just, am sorry but I assumed you were a parent ad you were talking about school closures.

Are you a teacher? My ds is a teacher with no children and I am a TA.

Again sorry if I offended you but to he honest the last year has been a total blur for us. A totally horrific year so that's my defence.

Please don't take offence.

Bunbaker Thu 24-Jan-13 07:13:28

"The conditions hadn't changed."

They had for us. It snowed all morning on Monday with no let up. Once the snow ploughs and gritters had done their work on Monday night the roads were clear on Tuesday morning and the buses were running.

DD couldn't have got to school on Monday even if it was open because I couldn't get the car out and there were no buses.

alistron1 Thu 24-Jan-13 07:22:22

The thing is there are school closures in other countries. My BIL is from toronto and he informs me that over there when heavy snow is falling the schools close because the traffic conditions are dangerous. Once it's stopped falling and the roads are cleared schools reopen. So not much different to here.

Where I live we've had 0ver 20cm of snow - the schools closed for 2 days while it was falling (well 1.5 really - friday was a partial closure) on tuesday most were open unless they had localised site issues.

And last friday, lots of businesses and shopping centres closed early too, given the deteriorating conditions on the roads - it wasn't just schools.

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