Suffolk schools which closed their doors to pupils yesterday following the weekend snow are set be asked for an explanation from the county council.

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Senior councillors at Endeavour House were left frustrated after more than half the county’s schools were closed yesterday. A total of 203 schools and children’s centres did not open.

That left 178 schools and centres open for business – although some of them opened late once staff had cleared dangerous ice and snow.

The majority of closures were in rural areas – only six schools were closed in Ipswich – but among the closures were several schools in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

In The Lowestoft and Southwold area only one school opened - Reydon Primary School.

The Suffolk closures came despite advice from the county council that staff should do all they could to ensure schools opened as normal whatever the weather.

County councillor with responsibility for children and young people Graham Newman had difficulty in containing his frustration. He said: “We are hugely disappointed at the number of school closures we have seen today – especially when our gritting teams have been working so hard to make sure roads are cleared.”

Mr Newman pointed out that clearing routes to schools was one of the priorities for the county’s gritting teams – and they had worked through the night to ensure access to schools.

All schools that were closed yesterday have already had phone calls from the county asking why they had not opened and asking if they need help to ensure they can open today.

Mr Newman said he was planning to write to all heads whose schools were closed asking for a full explanation.

“Businesses and other organisations managed to carry on – I heard an interview on radio with someone from the hospital and they said their staff had got in on time; if necessary they had left home early.

“We will want to know why it was different for schools.”

However, NUT secretary Graham White defended the schools’ decisions to close because of the poor weather. He said: “If staff do not feel confident about driving in these conditions it would be wrong to put them under pressure to get in.

“The main issue also has to be the safety of students and of staff – if heads feel there are potential dangers it is not right to take the risk.”

He said if there were not enough staff to take lessons, it was not right to allow pupils to be left at school as a “child-minding” service. You can’t have them coming into school just to watch videos because there are not enough staff for them – they can watch videos at home.”

And he said staff who did not go to school would not be relaxing. “They will be taking the opportunity to prepare work or marking – it’s not a case of just putting their feet up on an extra holiday!” he added.

22 comments

  • No! My childrens school was closed and the nursery (which my 3yr old goes to) outside play area roof which is very big, collapsed because of snow! So, I am personally glad it was closed and that the children weren't under it!!!

    Report this comment

    H.stevenson

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • "Do you think answers should be demanded over Suffolk snow school closures ?". I think the headline should be changed from "Suffolk" to "all" !. As for training days, If they are as experienced as they like to make out, there is no need for "training days" . Yet more "shopping and holiday" days for teachers.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • No! My childrens school was closed and the nursery (which my 3yr old goes to) outside play area roof which is very big, collapsed because of snow! So, I am personally glad it was closed and that the children weren't under it!!!

    Report this comment

    H.stevenson

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • The head has a risk assessment and they have to use there judgement before closing the school. However if we stopped being like America and suing at every chance we get schools might stay open like they used to 30 year's ago. The only way the school would shut then is if there was a burst pipe, and dont give me the excuse that teachers live miles from school. What about all the care staff who get in some travelling 15 miles each way, plus other jobs to that dont shut. Most the year Britain is great but a bit of snow and we're pathetic.

    Report this comment

    pa012d9924

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • "Do you think answers should be demanded over Suffolk snow school closures?" Why just Suffolk though, when the situation was similar, if not worse, in Norfolk? And even if one were to accept that the weather justified such closures, how is it that the very schools which closed in the last week then subsequently opened when the weather conditions were actually worse?

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Its always the same, people who don't get paid when they take a day off, always manage to get to work. People who do get paid for staying at home, are far more tempted to not try. I notice that all myself and all my neighbours have driven to work safely all week, the pensioners in the street have managed to still walk to the shops, but the bin men have found it impossible (Again) to drive down the road and empty the bins

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • NO just add extra days to the end of the school year and reduce the summer holiday period allowing the kids and teachers to make up any lost time.

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

  • No! My childrens school was closed and the nursery (which my 3yr old goes to) outside play area roof which is very big, collapsed because of snow! So, I am personally glad it was closed and that the children weren't under it!!!

    Report this comment

    H.stevenson

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • The bottom line here is that nobody wants their children hurt so common sense decisions need to be taken is severe weather to prevent this. Young children are not always able to assimilate danger. Newman is using this as a somke screen to deflect from the fact that his back of the beer mat school reforms which cost the tax payer millions sold to us with the promise of better attainment have failed. The KS2 results from last year are the third worst of any local Authority in the UK. Whilst some individual Primary schools turned in excellent results the majority of Lowestoft 11 year olds would have acheived better results if they had stayed in the Middle School system based on the previous year's Middle school results. Now we have 'raising the bar' another off the hoof iniative to limit the damage. They should have 'raised the bar' before they shut the Middle Schools. So forget the snow Newman its the least of your worries. You need to get your finger out and sort the mess you and your cohorts have created. Our children deserve adults running their Education Authority capable of joined up thinking!!

    Report this comment

    Bald E

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • I have to admit Pakefield Primary school never closes even in a blizzard but was surprised when it closed yesterday but I thunk the headmaster made the decision based on the state of the pavements etc as it was very slippery so I think it was the right way to go for the safety of the children. But for the guy at Suffolk cc HQ to say do you need help to clear the entrance to the schools !!!! No we need your gritters out when they should be plus we need all the pavements cleared of snow and ice please like they used to idiot.

    Report this comment

    vinny.p

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • It's a pity some of you don't check the facts before you sound off. "Training days", aka "INSET" days, were IMPOSED upon teachers by Thatcher and the then Tory Ed. Sec. Baker (which is why they were known as "Baker" days), and are in addition to the number of days per annum that teachers are required by statute to teach. Only vinny.p seems to have considered the rights and wrongs of closures through the weather.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • When Margaret Thatcher required schools to open for so many days a year the teachers obtained "training days", which they still have. Why not allocate a week of the school holidays to "snow days", to make up for any days lost. By doing it like this parents would know in advance that they cannot guarantee those days as holidays.

    Report this comment

    Anthony Gower

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • "I have to admit Pakefield Primary school never closes even in a blizzard but was surprised when it closed yesterday but I thunk the headmaster made the decision based on the state of the pavements etc as it was very slippery so I think it was the right way to go for the safety of the children." @vinny.p I wonder if the head of that school was being deliberately obtuse; the paths and driveway on his own property would have been in a similar state, so I wonder what he did? A shovel, a supply of grit or salt and an enthusiastic team of volunteers (parent helpers, PTA, governors, staff, pupils, etc) are surely not such an alien concept in his school?

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Well said vinny p and beccles 1. Schools are damned if they do and damned if they don't open. My child's school was open on Monday when a lot of others were closed but I know of a few parents who didn't send their children because apparently they couldn't get to school due to the snow, yet they live in the village so it's a mystery as to why they couldn't walk. And as for the regularly regurgitated myth perpetuated by the anti teacher lobby about inset days being an excuse for a day off, as T Doff has noted, they were imposed by previous governments and anyone who knows what they are talking would know that they are used for continuing professional development which is common in many industries and professions not just teaching. It seems to me that the education system is constantly changing so no doubt that's another reason for inset, in order that they can keep up to date with new developments and requirements which have to be implemented. The school car park is always full of staff cars on inset days, so they clearly aren't bunking off on a jolly.

    Report this comment

    Row71

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Oh seriously here we go again! I do hope everyone who is moaning was at their local school helping make access clear for the children to get in safely today ? The more important question is why are the roads so bad? Yes main roads are now clear but us people who are not fortunate to live directly onto a main road are still finding it extremely difficult to get into schools, what's happened to clearing our roads ??? Moan all you like but no one went to work who lived on my road yesterday no matter where they worked because they tried and failed ! If you think u can do a better job than our over stressed out head teachers then go for it. But don't sit there and moan, hay why don't you become a governor of a school a bit more community sprit would be great !!

    Report this comment

    beccles 1

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • I have not the slightest doubt that removing school run traffic has been a major contribution to road safety and has allow essential travellers to get about. As always, headteachers are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

    Report this comment

    G Hurrell

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Nambe pambe rubbish kiddies might get hurt, they dont know danger, what rubbish is this. What kind of warrior race are we? ICENI rise up unafraid or a slippery path to learn, to conquer. Or have the French really had that much effect om us over the years Bald E?

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • It's clear that Mr.Newman has no understanding of life as a pedestrian...the pavements don't get gritted,and it isn't likely that the public are going to come out in their droves and clear all paths that lead to schools...so clearing paths inside schools isn't much use if the pavements are like ice-rinks. As usual the anti-teacher brigade make their crass comments...it is a certainty that if there had a been a serious accident involving children on their way to school yesterday there would have been criticism of schools for being open.

    Report this comment

    Dogberry

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • It has to be said ... How come many other people can get to work .. And teachers cannot... If health and safety is an issue then how come children play in the streets as an alternative to the safety of the playground as was the case most years ago .. Until the stupidity of the current waffle of excuses of why a school cannot open... All that needs to be said is .. Children attend school at their own risk ... And that could apply to everyday of the year... Problem solved ... Somebody needs to get a grip of things and start using some basic common sense ... And stop wrapping children up in cotton wool... Get real snow is not problem and is part of life everyone has to deal with and not be treated like the black plague... Wise up it is part of life and growing up... God help us if we have 4 weeks of heavy snow again like in the 50s and 60s ... Softies will suffer...!

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • "Do you think answers should be demanded over Suffolk snow school closures ?". I think the headline should be changed from "Suffolk" to "all" !. As for training days, If they are as experienced as they like to make out, there is no need for "training days" . Yet more "shopping and holiday" days for teachers.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • It's a pity some of you don't check the facts before you sound off. "Training days", aka "INSET" days, were IMPOSED upon teachers by Thatcher and the then Tory Ed. Sec. Baker (which is why they were known as "Baker" days), and are in addition to the number of days per annum that teachers are required by statute to teach. Only vinny.p seems to have considered the rights and wrongs of closures through the weather.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

  • Good point Dave. If there is a will, then people will manage against mostly all odds. What is this in the article about "dangerous ice and snow"? Are they just lying in wait to snap at our heels .. or slap us in the face, like Triffids? Most things are not innately dangerous, it's how we use them or misuse them that gives rise to problems. A lot is to do with perceptions and expectations.

    Report this comment

    Patrick

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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