Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Snow Joke

The newspapers are busy calling for the mass hanging of teachers whose schools were closed yesterday. Lynch mobs are to be formed in all major cities according to this article.

Normally you'd expect me to be siding with the Snowfall Deniers and ranting about bone idle lazy lumps who can't be bothered to get out of bed, weak Headmasters cowering under their desks at the sight of the first snowflake or the rise in mass disability amongst UK residents which prevents them from walking a few miles.

Teachers of course don't decide whether their school is closed or not. Usually the Head does, or in some cases the Local Education Authority steps in and decides to shut all the schools in their area.

Whoever makes the decision however, is caught between a Rock and the Deep Blue Sea. If they keep the school open, somebody is bound to slip or get hit by a snowball and feel duty bound to try and sue the school or LEA. You could also very easily end up with the nightmare situation of 220 kids and three teachers (as many of the teachers live miles from the school) so with the rules about numbers of staff per child you might have to send them all back home again. Then you've got the possibility of road accidents which a solicitor would argue were partly due to you telling people to come in when the emergency services had advised everyone not to make any journey that was not 'absolutely essential'.

(Incidentally the only regret I have about not rising up the promotion ladder to become a Head was that I missed the opportunity to ban snowballing, or to send the kids out wearing protective goggles from the Science Lab. I would then phone up one of the papers pretending to be a parent outraged at this 'Nanny State' behaviour and send in some photos and a short video. Imagine the fun of peddling a justification and hyping up my safety concerns about the chemicals in frozen rainwater to some gullible reporter.)

Anyway, if on the other hand they close the school, then a barrage of abuse must be faced. Some parents will be annoyed because they have to go to work and take their child with them (which might be difficult if you are a Policeman or a roped access Window Cleaner). Others will be cross because their viewing of daytime TV will be disturbed and quite a few will be enraged because a newspaper or newsreader has told them to be.

There's no easy answer and in my opinion we should simply accept a couple of days disruption every decade rather than spending a fortune on the infrastructure needed to cope with these events properly.

And let's face it; if we have lost the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of a day's messing about in the snow then we really are in trouble...


Anonymous said...

I totally disagree. If half the countries in Europe (and places such as Canada) adopted the same attitude they would suspend education for most of the winter. In Norway, where I lived, the conditions were worse than anything we have experienced for half a century for weeks every year. Nobody considered closing schools.

I have some sympathy with teachers who are concerned about the threat of legislation. We are so ignorant of the psychology of risk and beset by fiddling, foolish legislation that we fear to use common sense. For example, days spent playing in snow are likely to be more risky than days spent in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

When I was at primary school (TOO may years ago) I lived in Matlock, in the Derbyshire Peak District.

We lived well up Matlock Bank (the hill with loads of houses) - in fact, so far up you couldn't see us from the town.

Our school, halfway down the hill, NEVER SHUT. When we had snow, we had SNOW - not 5-10cm, but 6-12 inches. We found our way there. I walked down the hill on a footpath by the side of an old quarry, walked back at lunchtime, back to school and then up the hill after school finished. (I was in short trousers too.)

We also had snowball fights, went sledging and had slides on the school playground until the caretaker put ashes on them.

Are kids these days simply soft, or has the "sue 'em all" culture taken over?

Anonymous said...

It's always got to be somebody else's fault, never mine.

The Daily Mash did a good piece on it!

Anonymous said...

MarkUK said...
"Our school, halfway down the hill, NEVER SHUT. When we had snow, we had SNOW - not 5-10cm, but 6-12 inches. We found our way there. I walked... "

Likewise, Ashbourne, 1960's, proper snow, school never closed.

Anonymous said...

lilyofthefield mentioned the Daily Mash

"But Julian Cook, a head teacher from Birmingham, defended the closure of his school, adding: "It's my round, what are you having?

"They do a lovely Rioja, here taste it. You see what I mean? Very quaffable. And, I'm sure you'll agree, much better then being stabbed in the bollock with a compass by some 12 year-old shit." LOL

Anonymous said...

So Heads are scared of being sued for injuries sustained in their schools.
O.K, so now lets see how they cope with being sued for injuries received by the little bastards whilst they SHOULD have been at school but were not, THERFORE, the schools fault.

Von Brandenburg-Preu├čen.