Monday, November 15, 2010

Primary Schools and Snow

Winter is just round the corner and that special day will soon be upon us. Yes the day when it snows a bit and loads of schools close, giving the media a chance to claim that all teachers are bone idle.

Now if we leave Secondary Schools out of the equation (assuming that kids over 11 can look after themselves at home until their parents return from work) we are left with the problem of a Primary School closing. This is almost always due to not having the minimum legal number of teachers per pupil and it brings absolute havoc because of course, one parent must then stay at home to look after a child between 4 and 11. Either the parent or their employer must bear this cost, which is huge and completely unnecessary.

The solution is simple and obvious. Every teacher should register with the Primary school nearest to them and make their way there (with photo ID) if they are unable to get to their own school. Pre registering would do away with any identification/CRB check excuses and if there are still problems with teacher numbers then they can be sorted out well in advance. All that is needed is to keep the children occupied for the day and if the primary schools drew up a bad weather program in advance, then it's perfectly straightforward. Teachers would be hailed as saving the day rather than sleeping the day.

Why is this not done? Councils can't be bothered and the Teachers Unions would come up with some utterly farcical objections. Why not do the decent thing and ask your nearest Primary school if you can help out on the big day? (Remember though, a snowman competition is no longer allowed due to the all-white nature of the entries)

19 comments:

Don said...

Ah, but you're forgetting about the parents... you know, the ones who are utterly incapable of digging their 4x4s out of half an inch of snow on the drive, even supposing the council will have gritted the road outside, which they won't have done.

Not to mention those who are just plain too bone idle to actually walk their offspring to school through the snow.

Anonymous said...

What of primary schools where there are say 5 teachers who live within a reasonable distance but others where there are none who do ? You would still end up with some primary schools short staffed and closed. Hardly a one-size-fits-all-solution but it would be a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

That's the policy at my current school. If you can't make it in, report to the closest school you can reach, phone from there (so you can be reached if necessary) and then do duties as assigned.

Quite useful, as in a storm it can take the town a day to clear away the snow on my street. (Not being in the UK, a storm is up to a metre of snow, not a few inches.)

DocBud said...

Why is it, whenever someone comes up with a sensible post like this, some twat comes along and uses it as an excuse to voice their small-minded prejudices against 4x4 owners and the like?

Anonymous said...

densaftsI don't know whether it's a product of my failing memory, but when I qualified as a teacher in the not too distant past (OK early 70s), I remember being asked at the interview for my first (and only) teaching job whether I lived within walking distance of the school. I also recall almost all the staff (at a large secondary school) lived within about 2 to 3 miles of the school.

Fee said...

I grew up in the country, and while I acknowledge it was a different century, I can remember precisely one snow day at primary school. I remember admin staff, janitor, kitchen staff etc being drafted in to supervise classes when the weather was bad, because they tended to live locally. Shutting the school was seen as a major issue to be avoided at all costs. We seem to have wandered away from that view, and schools now close at the drop of a hat. As a parent, yes, it causes problems.

Good idea, Frank. Which means no-one will be interested in taking it further.

Anonymous said...

I now live in Canada , after 30 odd years in the UK , and I can only recall two occasions last year when schools were closed , mostly due to the buses being cancelled.

I think I shall ask my Canadian collegues what the deal here is , as despite my having to push through snowbanks higher than my head last year , somehow the city still managed to keep on going.

Bizarely the first thing people do in this city when the roads are starting to look dicey is to switch to transit.

the sidewalks get cleared because as a property owner it is your responsibility to clear the area in front of your house.

I wonder how many people in the UK who moan about the councils not clearing the streets got out and actually had a go themselves?

Z

jerym said...

Off topic I know but not that far off
http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/
What a wonderful way to smuggle out bad news over the next few months
I wonder who was leaned on and who did the leaning

The Defence Brief said...

DocBud, obviously it's because 4x4 owners are evil and must be punished.

The Defence Brief said...

Anon 19.49, it's the same in Slovenia. I arrived there to find 10 inches of snow on the ground. Another 10 inches fell in a single night but the next morning most of the streets were completely clear because people cleared the space outside their own homes and shops. Embarassingly, our flight home was delayed because of half an inch of snow at Stansted while planes still took off with heavy snow raining down at our end.

The problem, really though is that we get so little snow here that it is economically more efficient to simply take the hit of a few days lost trading then to invest the billions of pounds necessary to provide services that operate in all weathers. It's often not just a case of snow causing the problem. Trains may not be able to run because the unusual cold weakens the rails - the metal for the rails requires a different formula for very hot or very cold climates, so a rail from India or Norway may not be suitable for use in the UK and vice versa.

Frank's plan sounds a good one to me, but I'm sure the civil servants holding the purse strings would oppose it as their staff might be giving free labour to other employers without a direct return from that other employer, which would look bad on their account books.

Kimpatsu said...

I can't possibly send my children to a school of the wrong religion. The teachers might impart the wrong dogma and damn my poor, sweet, sinful children to Hell. Far better that I take a day off.
See what religious segregation by school gets you?

Anonymous said...

It sounds so simple, like most good ideas. There will be a few problems as one poster mentioned. I can think of several areas of Sheffield (for example) in which no teacher will live. Those schools wil get no teachers. Across the city there will be schools which could potentially be overflowing.
In rural areas, 2ndary school have problems which they can overcome by emailing work to pupils who have to go to their nearest primary.

Matt said...

I think the concept of emailing work and wikispace/moodle type work is great but lets be honest - how may kids will actually do it and how many will be out playing in the snow? And is that really a bad thing in the scale of things.

Anonymous said...

That is the official policy of our LA. Unfortunately if your own children's school is closed, there's not much you can do beyond carting them along with you, which is usually unwelcome.
My main issue with snow days is the lateness of the announcement. By the time we know our school's closed, most of us who come in from a long way (hellhole school)and/or have to drop off children at nursery first have been on the very dangerous road for an hour.

Sally said...

I thought this was the policy as stated by teaching unions.

I use my snow days for marking coursework, though. Very handy. I think the quality of my marking has definitely improved.

Dack said...

I loved snow days as a kid. Who are we to deprive the young of the opportunities we had? We don't want more fire extinguishers lobbed off buildings, surely...

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed! Bring back diphtheria!

Dack said...

And spelling and grammar!

Sandy Jamieson said...

It works elsewhere in these islands.

At one time. the Headteacher of Port Askaig Primary School in Islay lived in the Islay while the Headteacher of Jura Primary School lived in Islay.

When it was too rough for the Port Askaig-Jura Ferry to run, they each took charge of each other's schools.

Ees simples!