Well it’s snowing and lots of schools decided to close…and with snow closures come the usual opinions about schools closing due to snow.
1. If it snows; Schools should close. Why? Because it don’t snow that often and it’s nice for the kids to have a day sledging.
2. It if snows; stay open! Why does this county grind to a halt when there is more than 2 mm of snow on the ground…it’s a disgrace!
Chances are where you stand on this opinion depends on how easy it is for you to not go to work. If you don’t work, work from home, can easily work from home or hate work so much the notion of ringing up saying you can’t make it due to child care issues fills you with joy, then you probably don’t mind if your kid’s school closes. If it is very difficult for you and your family to take unplanned time off work then you will probably be irritated by a school closure. (This is also true if you are the sort of person who feels the need to leave your comment on local news websites or the Daily Mail – these two types (hard workers and idiots) are not mutually exclusive but, well I’m just saying, there are all types of folks out there)
What about the Head Teachers who make these decisions? Despite what many people think it is a difficult decision to make and is not one that is made lightly-unlike the snowfall (ha ha). I love school and I love hard work and I hate not working and schools not providing their service. So the thought of closing the school and missing a day is not something that fills me with cheer. I’ve got SAT targets to meet, Ofsted to prepare for, meetings to have, assemblies to do, children to praise, Heads Report to write for governors, emails to delete: I haven’t got time for a snow day!
But, sometimes tough decisions need to be made and the fact that others may not perceive them as tough decisions must not cloud your judgement. Out of your (undoubted) interest, here is how a snow day starts:
You wake up way earlier than your alarm because you know it’s coming and before you check the weather outside you check your phone to see if any member of staff has already contacted you to say they can’t come in. You look outside and everything is white and it’s still snowing and then your phone goes. It will be your Deputy or other member of the SLT to ask what is going to happen. Between you, you start calculating how many staff are local, could we open on a skeleton crew, how do most children travel to school, how far does the school cook travel? All the time it’s getting closer to the deadline you set yourself for contacting the LA and you keep thinking: I need a clear sign!
The last thing you want to do is make a bad decision. If you make the decision to close at 7:15am but by 9:00am the snow has stopped, the sun is out and snow is melting you will feel a bit of a chump and I imagine the Director of Education will arrive at your front door, throw a snowball into your crotch, slap you in the face and tell you that you’re fired for being an IDIOT Head teacher! All of your parents were ambulance drivers and none of them could go to work because you closed the school and now every driver in the city is dead because of your decision to have a snow day!
If you don’t close and it gets worse what have you done? You’ve made your staff come in and now the conditions are worse than ever so it’s even more dangerous for them to get home. Half of the pupils have decided not to come in anyway (attendance figures go down the toilet), real lessons can’t really continue so the driving force behind your reason to stay open is redundant. Worse than all of this is the thought that if conditions do get worse you will have to close early and that won’t be a popular decision with anybody.
So when I’m stood in my pyjamas at 7:10am with my phone in my hand I hope and for roads closed, public transport service stopped, weather forecasts predicting worse to come and that all my staff live in the country and are snowed in. I wish for this not because I want to close but because it will make my decision easier.