It’s SNOW joke! (Sorry for the pun)

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This week I have had to make the hardest decision I have had to make since becoming a headteacher.

Whether I open or close the school due to the weather.

There are so many things to take into consideration when you make the decision.

We are in a rather fortunate position in Whitby that most of the time we are not hit by snow. In the four years I’ve been here this is the first time we’ve been really struck by it. My instinct is always to try to make sure school is open.

Unfortunately a significant amount of my teaching staff don’t live in Whitby. If you know Whitby at all you’ll know it is surrounded by the North York Moors. Whilst in Whitby there maybe no snow the moors can be quite treacherous.

I have a brilliant staff who I know if I said we were opening the school would endeavour to get to there. My job is to make sure those people are safe.

Thing is it’s not easy! Some schools have to shut while others do not, some are able to open while others cannot. It doesn’t make any school better than another. It’s all about each schools context.

This week however we received quite a bit of abuse on social media from a tiny minority of parents some of it pretty foul.

What upset the most is that these people questioned the commitment of our staff to the job. We have a brilliant staff who I know go above and beyond for the children of our school every single day. I know they would have tried to get in if I’d asked. My job is to make sure that they don’t take those risks. If the Met Office is declaring an Amber warning then I have to listen. I have to weigh up the all the information I have and make a decision. Sometimes I will get it wrong, but the heart of the decision should always be safety for all involved.  (Pupil/Parents/Staff)

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The decision to close wasn’t lightly taken and it wasn’t done in isolation, the local heads all discussed the situation, our Chair of Governors was outstanding in helping me make the decision, most importantly our caretaker was a font of knowledge about the town. (I don’t live in Whitby and couldn’t actually get to school myself)

Today  we opened (after three days shut), I arrived at school at 6:45 after an hour drive across the moors. Then proceeded to help my caretaker (He’d already made a cracking start) shovel the paths to school (I even brought my own shovel)

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After after being criticised for closing we were then criticised for opening.

I learnt that I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t…so on balance I’d rather be damned for knowing everybody is safe.

Hey Ho! You can’t win… except I know everybody is safe and that for me is the biggest win.

 

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7 thoughts on “It’s SNOW joke! (Sorry for the pun)

  1. If it’s any consolation I too ( new to headship ) faced a similar decision and it resulted in parents taking to social media to vent their spleen about a decision they were not having to make. Stick to your guns you did the right thing. Safety first always.

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    • Thanks Michelle. I did what irks is how this bile has made staff feel. They are a great team totally committed to the school and the children. They don’t deserve this nonsense.

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  2. My Head took the same decision this week. After struggling to get my car up the road leading to the school and skidding into the car park on Tuesday, I was relieved. Although, as you say, I and my colleagues would have tried to make the journey. It annoys me when dedication to the job is questioned. Good for you for thinking of your team’s safety.

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  3. I too had to make that decision- we’re in the Yorkshire Dales- so know what it’s like. As a newbie head it is a massive responsibility. I decided I could live with myself if we closed the school to ensure everyone was safe- the alternative with an amber warning in place was stupid. So much of this job is about doing the right thing for the right reasons and growing a really thick skin!

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      • My skin is still developing and is no where as thick as it needs to be, yet. It’s so hard that everyone has an opinion and, it is too easy these days to express it via social media with no thought or regard for the impact on individuals.

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  4. We took the same decision! After closing last minute Thursday due to adverse weather after all staff had trudged in – unsafely. We decided to give families more notice and announce we were closed Friday on Thursday night! But then you worry that you have made the right decision. You can only go off the information you have in the weather forecasts and take into account other local schools – who in our case had also announced were closing!
    I was reading social media stories on Friday morning and parents were moaning about schools that opened, others who left decision to close until the morning and this was too late! You are damned if you do and damned if you dont! Can’t please everyone! But you know deep down it’s not a decision taken lightly and is done in the interest of safety for all!

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