07/02/2019

Patrolling for Snow

It never gets any easier. But I continue to stand by the maxim that the only bad decision is no decision.

Of all the choices that you are forced to face as an educational leader, it may seem odd to admit that one of the toughest is posed by the ‘snow day’; or, more accurately, trying to second guess the snow day.

There have of course been some infamous weather forecasting blunders...

Storm Damage
The storm damage that Michael Fish failed to predict...

However, within an hour or so, they got it right this time. It did mean that I ‘pulled’ Year 11 Parents’ Evening slightly too early last Thursday, but as in the ‘big’ decision to open or close health and safety remains the paramount concern, and stranded parents, students and teachers wasn’t an attractive prospect.

The persistent, heavy snow through the early hours, and the once again accurate forecast for the remainder of Friday made the closure decision as easy as it gets. In opening on Monday, I took into account both the thawing  impact of the heavy overnight rain - and the hard work put in by the Site Team on Sunday clearing pathways and making the school safe. It’s just with reprising here from parallel blogs around this time in previous years the ‘checklist’ I go through before arriving at a decision...

  • The immediate local weather conditions

  • Local transport issues and the associated risks for students, parents and staff travelling to and from school

  • Specific conditions on the nine routes to the outlying villages of North Hampshire and rural west of the County that form our home to school minibus runs, bringing over 150 students into school every morning

  • Wider weather and transport issues and how this will potentially impact on staffing levels for the day.  As significant numbers of staff travel in from as far as Oxford, Swindon, Reading, Basingstoke, Winchester and Southampton, the key issue is whether you can guarantee that lessons will be able to run and students be effectively supervised during breaks and lunchtimes

  • The immediate state of the site and whether it is likely to deteriorate or improve

  • The forecast for the remainder of the day

It’s a genuine challenge making that decision to  close - or indeed open - the school, and I can only once again apologise for the inconvenience that I know it causes at so many levels… and thank you for your understanding.

Let’s just keep everything crossed that’s it! Much as I like Snow Patrol...

 

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