Severe Weather

How the decision is made whether to close the school in adverse weather

The decision to close the school for any reason is a significant one. It is, of course, the loss of a day’s learning for every student. In addition to this, the vast majority of our parents work and so it also creates major difficulties for the best part of 1200 families in the morning. That being said, there are times when we do have to close the school and the summary below outlines just some of the variables and situations we consider when making the decision to close the school.

The decision making process

  1. The decision making process begins at 5.30am, when one of the site staff will open the school to allow the morning cleaners to come in. The Site Manager, or his assistant, will make an assessment of the safety of the site. This assessment will involve the hard surfaces for both parking cars and walking on. It will also consider other issues such as heating and the effects of wet snow coming into the building.
  2. The Headteacher and the Site Manager will then discuss his assessment by telephone before 6 a.m.
  3. If the site is considered safe, the next factor is whether sufficient staff will be available and whether enough students will be able to get into school to make the lessons valuable. This is guided strongly by the decision made by the bus companies. They are the experts in deciding whether the road conditions are appropriate to allow their buses out. If the buses are running, then it is assumed that sufficient staff and students will attend to make the lessons safe and valuable for all.
  4. Finally, a consideration of the forecast for the day is made. Clearly, this is extremely variable and hard to judge. However, we have had situations where the bus companies wish to collect students early. It is then very difficult to contact parents to check there will be somebody at home to collect an individual student if they arrive early. We need to know that an individual child is safe and that the parents know where they are. Without this knowledge we can’t let a student leave the school site. This, therefore, can then be a lengthy process.

Taking all of the above into account, a decision is made in consultation between the Head and the Chair of Governors, normally by 6.30 a.m. If the decision is to close the school, we use the County Council’s ‘textround’ system which lets all local radio stations know, including those in other counties. We also publish whether we are open on the school website which is the best place to look if you are unsure. A lot of people try to telephone the school in the morning, and we advise it is always best to check the website first.

What we would not wish to do is to put pressure on parents, students or staff who feel it is not safe for them. Weather such as snow can be very localised. Some people live on main roads, others at the top of hills accessed by narrow country lanes.

Some have four-wheel drive car and others do not. Clearly, it is for the individual to decide whether it is safe for them to come into school and the school can’t make that decision for each individual.

The school’s guiding principle is that if it is safe to do so, we will try to stay open. However, the decision is not simple and there are a whole host of different variables at play when coming to a conclusion of whether to close the school or not.

In This Section