With shops, offices and hospitals staying open, you may wonder why nearly 5,000 schools across the UK have closed this week because of snow and icy conditions. Read on for the why, when and how of snow closures!
Pupils love it, parents and small businesses dread it, but closing a school because of the weather is a complex issue, according to a summary of 10 facts about school snow closures.
- Head teachers decide whether to shut their school on the basis of pupils’ safety. Situations vary from school to school, but the DfE advises that they ‘should use common sense in assessing the risks and keep their schools open whenever it is safe to do so’. With staff often travelling further to school than pupils, schools without enough teachers will sometimes open partially, for exam classes for example.
- School attendance – or the lack of it and its effect on league tables – needn’t worry heads if they decide to keep their school open. Exams will go ahead whenever possible but contingency plans will be discussed with awarding bodies when they are disrupted. Action will be taken to ‘safeguard the interests of candidates whilst also maintaining the integrity of exams’.
- Parents have legal rights to unpaid leave to look after children in an emergency and employees are entitled to ‘reasonable’ time off to make alternative arrangements. Small businesses tend to be worse affected by school closures than large companies, as there are fewer members of staff to fill in for people staying at home.
Has snow closed your school? If it’s stayed open how have staff, pupils and parents coped?