Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 10°C

Search
Suffolk Business Awards 2018 Tickets

Schools under ‘more pressure than ever before’ to stay open when it snows, says headteacher

PUBLISHED: 17:47 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:47 01 March 2018

Snow business: Pupils at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds celebrate the school open and having fun in the snow.  PICTURE: Andy Abbott

Snow business: Pupils at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds celebrate the school open and having fun in the snow. PICTURE: Andy Abbott

Archant

The warning comes after 256 schools out of 324 closed in Suffolk today – just under the 279 figure on Wednesday. It was 357 in Essex, a fall from 392.

Pupils at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds celebrate the school open and having fun in the snow. PICTURE: Andy Abbott Pupils at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds celebrate the school open and having fun in the snow. PICTURE: Andy Abbott

Headteachers are determined to keep open schools but carry out risk assessments to ensure the safety of pupils and staff.

Daryl Jones, headteacher at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds, which opened yesterday but is due to close today, said: “There is more pressure to keep schools open than ever before. Parents want their children to attend school so they can go to work, and the local authority wants us to stay open.

“A few years ago, there was a time when we opened and others shut. Letters were sent congratulating us and others were asked to consider why they shut. The days of closing on a whim has gone. That joke where as soon as there is a snowflake then the school has to close is no longer a given. We have got a duty to educate children and remain open. We cannot have blanket closures.. You don’t want to open then close at midday. Some parents will applaud you for keeping the country running, and others question why you opened. One school might be open and another a mile away might be closed, but they might have a completely different story. It’s very difficult.

“There are four factors: is the school site safe, with heating and water? Is it safe for pupils to be in school? Can the majority of staff get to school? And what is the forecast?”

Snow business: Pupils and Head teacher Daryl Jones at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds celebrate the school open and having fun in the snow

PICTURE: Andy Abbott Snow business: Pupils and Head teacher Daryl Jones at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds celebrate the school open and having fun in the snow PICTURE: Andy Abbott

Headteachers defend opening schools and praise ‘amazing’ staff and ‘mental strength’.

Nigel Burgoyne, headteacher at Kesgrave High School, which closed early at 2.45pm yesterday and is due to open at 10am today, said: “I ignore those pressures (to open or close) and I make the right call in terms of safety. It has been a beastly couple of days, with snowdrifts not being cleared.”

Pupils enjoying the snow at Clifford Road Primary School in Ipswich. Mia and Natalia. Picture: CLIFFORD ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL Pupils enjoying the snow at Clifford Road Primary School in Ipswich. Mia and Natalia. Picture: CLIFFORD ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL

Headteachers make the decision to open or close usually before 7am, and their main consideration is health and safety, particularly for pupils.

Schools are advised to make a decision to close as early as possible, in order to inform parents and carers in good time.

A risk assessment is conducted taking into account factors including:

Pupils enjoying the snow at Clifford Road Primary School in Ipswich. Picture: CLIFFORD ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL Pupils enjoying the snow at Clifford Road Primary School in Ipswich. Picture: CLIFFORD ROAD PRIMARY SCHOOL

- The state of pathways, steps and slopes around the school

- Condition of roads and pathways in the local area

- If the school’s heating, lighting and water is working correctly

- Whether catering can be provided

- Availability of public transport and school coaches

- The weather forecast

Schools may also need to close due to other unforeseen circumstances, such as heating failures and structural issues.

Steve Wood, headteacher at Clifford Road Primary School in Ipswich, which opened yesterday and aims to open again today, said: “You are conscious that parents are possibly working and might not get paid if they don’t get into work or might have to take a day’s holiday, but more important than that is the safety of the children. It’s really difficult to balance.”

Graham White, Suffolk representative at the National Education Union, said headteachers nationwide are in an “absolute no win situation”.

He said: “Compared to 10 years ago, it has become even harder for schools to close, because of pressure. Some parents seem to view school as childcare when it is inconvenient to stay at home.

“If they close then local authorities complain, and parents will complain for having to take a day off work. If they don’t close and there was accident involving a pupil, then the school would be potentially sued.”

One headteacher noted on Essex County Council’s school closure website: “Having driven to school and slid across the road, I feel uncomfortable asking children to walk during the rush hour.”

Powers Hall Infant School in Witham stated: “The roads and paths around school are treacherous and with freezing temperatures day and night, there is no sign of improvement.”

Hosting a barbeque or grabbing a cool pint in the local pub for the England game tomorrow? Check here to see how warm it will be where you are.

Shoppers have expressed shock after plans to shut to a “struggling” East of England Co-op store in Ipswich were announced.

Thousands of the region’s bravest swimmers donned their wetsuits and took the plunge at the Great East Swim when it returned to Suffolk today.

From a tribute music festival to a muddy obstacle course – there are plenty of events for people to enjoy across Suffolk and north Essex this weekend.

Thousands of runners dressed in pink are expected to descend on Trinity Park near Ipswich this weekend to play their part in the fight against cancer.

Essex Police says it is “very concerned” for the welfare of two missing young people – who are believed to be together in the Colchester area.

Four people arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of a man in Chelmsford yesterday have been released.

Rail services between Ipswich and Cambridge are returning to normal after a freight train broke down at Bury St Edmunds this morning.

A special baton relay will arrive on the Suffolk coast on Monday as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the formation of the RAF.

The coast of California USA and Fore Street, Ipswich swimming pool are worlds apart in several ways, but for former Ipswich lady, Karen Quezada, nee Spanner, who now lives in California, the little Victorian built pool in Ipswich holds a special place in her heart.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24