Head: Parents must take responsibility
09:00 23 January 2013
IPSWICH: As the row rumbles on over the number of schools that were closed on Monday following the heavy snow, a headteacher from the town has insisted that parents need to play their part.
Whitehouse Primary School was open as normal on Monday, but headteacher Jacqui Frost said about a quarter of her pupils were absent without any explanation.
Speaking on Radio Suffolk, Ms Frost said she was delighted that three-quarters of her pupils turned up as normal, but the level of absentees was frustrating.
She had seen some pupils walking past the school with their parents – and even heard one of her pupils being interviewed while sledging at Broomhill Park.
Most of her pupils live within walking distance of the school, so their parents could not use the excuse that they could not reach it.
With schools in Suffolk under the spotlight because the county is falling behind other education authorities in league tables, Ms Frost said parents needed to take more responsibility for their children.
She said: “This is something I feel quite grieved about. Everybody bashes the schools – but it is not just about the schools, it is also about parental responsibility.”
Ms Frost met parents at the school yesterday and did not want to talk to any other media.
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for children and young people Graham Newman said his concerns about the number of schools which had closed on Monday seemed to be shared by the majority of people he had spoken to since.
He said: “At the end of the day, it has to be a parent’s decision as to whether they allow (and escort) their children to school in adverse weather conditions.
“It is also a headteacher’s decision as to whether a school opens.”
He pointed out that no Suffolk school had ever been sued because of anyone falling over on ice – and the Department for Education had said there was danger of schools that opened being penalised if a substantial number of their children stayed away because of bad weather.
He added: “I remain concerned about the number of schools that were closed on Monday and the message that sends out to students and parents.”
n Did you keep your child from school on Monday? Should parents be blamed for keeping their children away from classrooms? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org