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!

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 11.am 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.

SugarplumMary
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.

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