Headteachers 'too quick to close schools because of snow'

Jan 22, 2013

Where's our British bulldog spirit asks prep school head determined to keep classes running

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WITH 5,000 schools closing their doors because of the snow and freezing temperatures, some parents and teachers have questioned whether the seemingly "random" nature of closures is setting a bad example to children and signalling that the country has lost its "British bulldog" spirit.

Headteachers have the final say on whether to shut a school, with Education Secretary Michael Gove stressing they should do "everything" in their power to allow pupils to get in.

But too many heads are taking the easy way out, says Martin Scott, who runs the private Old Hall prep school in Wellington, Shropshire. He told the Daily Mail: "Snow undoubtedly disrupts the normal routine but should it be brought to a grinding halt for all? Definitely not. I fear the panic button is in some cases being pressed too quickly."

Scott believes that keeping the school open teaches his pupils an "important lesson" about having a "tenacious approach to life". He added: "We need more of this British bulldog spirit."

The Mail speculates that some schools may be closed because half-empty classrooms could impact on truancy rates, despite Gove saying headteachers would not be penalised for weather-related absences.

On Mumsnet forums, frazzled parents have hit out at the "random" choice of school closures, with many bemoaning their disrupted childcare provisions. One user said her "unsympathetic employers" made school closures impossible; another asked why, if she could get into work, her children's teachers could not.

Music journalist Pete Pahides expressed his frustration on Twitter, writing: "I've sent an email to all the schools... there'll be no parenting tomorrow."

The Association of School and College Leaders has, not surprisingly, come out in defence of heads, with general secretary Brian Lightman telling the Daily Telegraph that senior teachers are merely trying to keep their students safe and schools have to close if staff cannot get in to supervise them.

One teacher who doesn't understand that argument is Marie Balkenhol, head of the German Deutsche School in south London. She told the BBC that parents of children attending her institution expect doors to remain open despite the weather. However, Jessica Ware, of The Local, an English-language paper in Berlin, says schools in Germany are better equipped to cope with the heavy snow.

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I'm a little disappointed in the artical if I am honest. To highlight your point you gathered opinion from a school located in London, an area well serviced by public transport links, and a county council that supports a highly populated area.

Surely to get a balanced view that I would like to expect from your publication you should have spoken to schools which are located out of the M25.