Inadequate cold weather contingency plans and school closures.

school closures

School closures again. Our kids schools along with all others in Medway have been closed for the week. Messages appearing today (Friday) on our respective children’s school websites – 

From St Michaels Primary

Having assessed the current situation this morning and looking at the weather forecast, there appears to be no let up in the present hazardous weather conditions. Therefore I have decided to close again tomorrow 2nd March. Work for the children to do has now been put on every class’ website page.

I wanted to give you all enough notice of arrangements so that you have plenty of time to make plans. I am really sorry for this but there is nothing I can do in these exceptional conditions. I hope to welcome you all on Monday 5th March. Keep checking e-mails and the website on Sunday for confirmation.

Following an assessment of the school site, and the fact that the temperatures are set to stay low with more significant snow likely on Friday We are making the early decision that the school will be closed on 2 March.  The forecast for the weekend is for temperatures to rise above freezing and so I am very hopeful of opening again on Monday.

Teachers will set work for students to complete at home.  There are several ways this will be set:

  • Facebook updates – work has already been posted and will be updated as and when new work is sent
  • Through Insight – as normal homework

Please encourage your child to complete this work.  Year 11 and 13 should also carry on revising for their exams next week.  The timetable for these will still be followed – so those exams timetabled for Monday will take place on Monday.

The 6th form trip to the Emirates tomorrow is cancelled.

And Medway UTC

Medway UTC will regrettably be closed on Friday 2nd March, owing to the icy conditions in the area and further bad weather forecast. Please monitor the website for updates, although we expect to be open as usual Monday 5th March 2018. 

Risk assessment is one thing. Risk management is another. There has in my view been too much emphasis on the former and not enough on the latter. This is not the first year there have been school closures due to similar weather. Albeit such occasions are infrequent it is reasonable to expect schools to learn from experience and take action to lessen the impact of such events in the future. Our experience this week has shown that contingency planning has amounted to little more than school closures.

It is inexcusable that creative and effective continuity plans for children’s education had not been ready for times such as these. It would have been quite realistic to have planned for the delivery of virtual classrooms. It would not be wholly unrealistic to have planned for suitable measures to be taken for the clearing of ice and snow in and around the school grounds. It should have been possible to provide on site education for those children whose parents are willing and able to make the effort to convey their children to school by whatever means they considered it was safe for them to do so. Yes it might have been difficult for teachers to get to school but no more difficult for anyone else preparing to make the effort.

Schools have done themselves, students and their parents no favours at all this week. They have lost some of the listening they need to support their message of the importance of regular attendance. The righteous stance about kids missing a few days at the end of term and preventing parents taking advantage of affordable holiday offers at these times will now be all the more distasteful.

Inadequate over all. Must try harder. Still they are not alone in clumsily making their way through the weather. Working for the NHS has given me plenty to think on as to how organisational cold weather strategies are implemented and the difference they make. 

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