Winter has arrived! Britain has seen the first snowfall of the year across high ground and Scotland. Temperatures today have already dipped below zero. This morning, I had to defrost my car before I could even get into it (no lie in for me), and it seems to be set to continue over the coming weeks.
The Met Office has begun to issue some severe weather warnings for ice and long range forecasting is predicting that we could be in for a harsh winter.
I remember, as a small child, peering out of the window every morning with my fingers crossed, hoping for the elusive “snow day”. If there was so much as a dusting, we’d switch on our local BBC radio station, and wait, hoping to hear that Crompton Fold would be shut for the day!
Of course at that time, I didn’t think about Mum or Dad having to miss a day of work to take care of us – all I could think of was the possibility of a snowball fight!
Whether your school is situated in the heart of the capital or is itself the heart of a small village, it could experience severe weather of some form or another over the coming months. The task of deciding what to do in these difficult circumstances can be burdensome and school leaders can be torn between their duty to teach and our innate ‘stiff upper lip’ and closing the school for the good of the children.
Adverse weather can be a headache for any school or academy, not just snow preventing access, but ice on the driveways and playgrounds and damage to pipes.
So many questions to consider;
- Should you stay open and risk a Health and Safety nightmare?
- Should you close and risk the ire of parents and the papers?
- What if modular exams are due to take place?
- What if the boiler breaks, what is the minimum acceptable temperature for your staff and your pupils?
- As we descend into another winter, what is the best way to stay prepared?
Much to the bemusement of parts of Europe, closing your school due to severe weather is a real option and must be considered. Germany or Sweden being “more equipped to deal with it” doesn’t help you and the insistence of news teams repeating this statement shouldn’t sway your decision-unless maybe you are reading this from Germany.
Even the best intuition can only get you so far. Until the coalition finally sees sense and secures a school weather warning satellite the MET office is your best bet.
Subscribing to their severe weather warning system can give your school leadership team a heads up on the troubles ahead. Most importantly, it can buy you time to make sure your procedure is fresh in the mind of staff, parents and pupils-ensuring your school is prepared for whatever winter can throw at it.
We also have a terrific 3-Minute Read summarising the DfE’s Advice on Adverse Weather Conditions document, as well as the full HSE Health and Safety in the Workplace document.
http://www.theschoolbus.net/health-safety/topics/severe-weather-guidance/292/ – Severe Weather Guidance on TheSchoolBus
http://www.theschoolbus.net/health-safety/6/ – Health and Safety on TheSchoolBus