How did we make the decision to stay open when other schools closed?
Many thanks to the parents who have walked up to my staff over the last few days, and congratulated both them and the school for managing to stay open during the difficult weather last week. It required a huge team effort and total commitment from staff and pupils to make Thursday and Friday work, and when parents show their appreciation for this, you will be surprised what a real difference it makes to those concerned. Quoting from one supportive email from a parent, it read…
Just a quick note to say well done for managing to open today. Personally I think this shows commitment from the staff and pupils and sets an example about making every effort to get in school and later work”.
I shared this with my team and such words boost all our morale.
We also received a quantity of emails and phone calls questioning the decisions that had to be made during Thursday and Friday, such a volume that several staff spent their day responding to these rather than running the school, so I thought it may be of interest for parents to see ‘behind the scenes’ of how we make the decision to stay open.
When the weather forecaster speaks of snow there is one certainty, it’s a sleepless night for a head teacher who has to decide how this might affect the school. A forecast is one thing but nothing is ever certain until the day in question. It’s then an extra early start to get into school to assess the site and to gauge the road conditions in order to second guess how staff might be affected in their journey to work.
By 7.30am I will be in school looking at the site and judging if our site staff have made it safe for staff and students. This will always be our prime consideration. Last week the site team worked a minor miracle in preparing the school, by starting work earlier than normal at 4am. My staff showed immense commitment on Thursday and battled through the blizzard during the height of the rush hour, something I am so proud of them for doing. However, with the road network slowed by snow, many, understandably arrived much later than their normal time. Thus by 8am it becomes clear how many staff have been able to safely arrive in school and I am able to assess our ability to open fully, partially or not at all. Only then can I contact parents with the certainty of knowing if we can offer a provision.
A number of parents expressed their concern about this approach arguing that it is too late in the day for them and that I need to make a much earlier call. I have great sympathy for their viewpoint, but the only earlier call which can be made is to close and that might result in an unnecessary closure. I hold the view that a head teacher has a social responsibility to the local community to do all they can to keep a school open. By doing so they continue to provide a child with an education for the day and avoid the need for parents to take time off work to supervise their child and possibly lose a wage. Unless I face quite extraordinary conditions I will always do all I can to ensure the West Bridgford School stays open and this sometimes requires me to go close to the wire before I can fully assess the situation for both safety and staff attendance. As it was, Thursday and Friday saw the school run as normal, with the only casualty being our Year 8 Consultation Afternoon. This will now run on Thursday 19th April with further details being sent home next week.