Ipswich: Schools praised for remaining open despite snowy conditions

Sidegate Lane Primary School, Ipswich.

Sidegate Lane Primary School, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

TEACHERS and pupils in Ipswich have been praised by the town’s MP after only six schools closed as a result of the adverse weather.

Castle Hill School in Ipswich remained open despite the snow. L-R Harvey, Joshua, Mia, Ben

Castle Hill School in Ipswich remained open despite the snow. L-R Harvey, Joshua, Mia, Ben - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile, only one school in Felixstowe – Kingsfleet – failed to open yesterday because of the heavy snowfall.

The picture in Ipswich and Felixstowe was in stark contrast to the rest of Suffolk, which saw the closure of 203 schools – more than half of the county’s total.

Some schools opened later to give staff the opportunity to clear snow before students arrived – but the majority in the towns opened as normal.

The most significant closure was Westbourne Sports College which could not open because of fears for the safety of students and staff.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said he was delighted by the commitment shown by schools in his constituency (Westbourne is the neighbouring North Ipswich seat).

“We only had four schools that were closed in my constituency, and Beacon Hill has pupils from a wide area so it was understandable that it did not open.

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“What is significant is that many of the staff for schools in Ipswich live outside the town – but they still managed to struggle through to work as normal.”

Schools in Suffolk have come under fire for under-performing, but Mr Gummer added: “That is a serious concern, but it has been clear to me that schools in Ipswich were better than elsewhere and the commitment shown by their staff during this time bears that out.”

Westbourne Headteacher Chris Edwards said the geography of the school site made it difficult to open until all the paths were cleared.

“We have several different blocks of buildings that we need to access, and go get to them there are paths on slopes,” he said.

“They are treacherous and it is not safe to open until the paths are clear.

“Because of when the snow fell it was not possible to get them cleared so I took the decision to close the school.”

He made the call at 7am yesterday to give parents the opportunity to make alternative arrangements – but was hopeful the school should open as normal today providing there was no further snow.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said it was doing all it could to encourage schools to open – and was offering support to many which were closed yesterday to ensure they are able to open today.

Did your local school battle to open during the snow? Do you want to pay tribute? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk