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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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