Headteacher explains decision to open Northgate High School in Dereham today

Northgate High School in Dereham has been able to stay opens during the snowy conditions this week - Head Teacher Glyn Hambling. Picture: Matthew Usher. Northgate High School in Dereham has been able to stay opens during the snowy conditions this week - Head Teacher Glyn Hambling. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thursday, January 17, 2013
4:14 PM

The principal of the only school in Dereham to open today said two thirds of students and all but one teacher made it in for lessons.

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Northgate High School in Dereham has been able to stay opens during the snowy conditions this week - The cleared out paths at the school. Picture: Matthew Usher.Northgate High School in Dereham has been able to stay opens during the snowy conditions this week - The cleared out paths at the school. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Northgate High School announced last night it would open the following day, provoking criticism from some parents because Neatherd High School and the sixth form in the same town remained closed.

Buses parked on the street outside the school rather than entering the grounds so they could drop students off by a new pathway that was completed over Christmas.

Headteacher Glyn Hambling said the school could not have opened without the direct path to the school, or the work of the site team which spent Wednesday clearing footpaths to all school buildings and entrances.

A total of 601 of the school’s 952 pupils attended.

Northgate High School in Dereham has been able to stay opens during the snowy conditions this week - The new entrance path for pupils. Picture: Matthew Usher.Northgate High School in Dereham has been able to stay opens during the snowy conditions this week - The new entrance path for pupils. Picture: Matthew Usher.

One bus driver, who found some village roads impassable and said his bus was only partially full, raised concerns about having to stop the bus in the street outside the school and said: “This is crazy.”

Mr Hambling said: “Every headteacher has a really difficult decision to make and it’s based on their sites. I respect their decision because I know how difficult it is.

“We have to make a call and headteachers are almost damned if they do and damned if they don’t. You are faced with two decision that are both pretty lousy.

“The key thing is what is your site like. Without having a team like I have got I would not have been able to open the site.

“We had a site that was accessible for children and that was down to the fact we were able to do the work we could during the closure day. It’s absolutely fantastic what they have done.”

He visited each class this morning to personally thank staff and students for coming, and as a reward part of the playing field was cordoned off for students to play at end of the lunch break.

Mr Hambling said parents who supported and opposed his decision to open the school had contacted him, and the school posted photos on its website to offer reassurance about the safety of the site.

11 comments

  • Indeed, no headteacher should need to justify why they opened their school while others in close proximity did not. This was a similar scenario in other areas of Norfolk. To be in the situation of children having a day off school when their siblings, whose schools are less than a mile from each other, had to go in is utter madness. Perhaps the EDP might find it newsworthy to investigate why some schools in the same postcode were closed, while others made the effort to open; something does not add up here, especially when some headteachers and, indeed, teaching staff at the closed schools live in the very same postcode as their schools, while those who bothered to open had to travel in the region of 20 miles and from the opposite side of Norwich.

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    Musto_Fan

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • It is absolutely correct for the school to be open. We do love a drama in the U.K. What if the snow remained for two or three weeks, would the whole country come to a standstill? All the fuss is ridiculous. IT'S ONLY SNOW!

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    Joolz

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • I find it odd that a school finds it has to explain why it stays open. The default is surely to stay open if at all possible, and then provide an explanation if you find it necessary to close.

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    crunchy dick

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • It is absolutely correct for the school to be open. We do love a drama in the U.K. What if the snow remained for two or three weeks, would the whole country come to a standstill? All the fuss is ridiculous. IT'S ONLY SNOW!

    Report this comment

    Joolz

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • This headteacher should not have to justify anything. The others shouold have to justify why they are shut, and what they are to do to "play catchup". Its a good job these teachers and heads dont work in the real world, they would never survive.

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    "V"

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • "However it is closed today 18th January" Yes, along with the other 320 schools (as at last count at 12:31 today).

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    Musto_Fan

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • However it is closed today 18th January

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    NorfOik

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Good on this head teacher. How pathetic that health and safety forces so many heads to have to close their schools. It must be an awful decision. Perhaps us parents and Government need to be more responsible and not threaten to sue at the drop of a hat if a pupil falls over!!!!!

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    Sportswagon

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • It is absolutely correct for the school to be open. We do love a drama in the U.K. What if the snow remained for two or three weeks, would the whole country come to a standstill? All the fuss is ridiculous. IT'S ONLY SNOW!

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    Joolz

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • I would like to praise Mr Hambling for opening this school today.Teachers and other school staff are paid for a school closure day but if they were not, or if they had to work a day in the holidays to make up for the lost day, then much more effort to keep schools open would be made. School age children are entitled to 190 days of education in an academic year. My main concern with closing schools however is 'what message are we giving young people?' Closing a school because of snow teaches them that at the first sign of a problem you give up. It is time for the Department of Education to change the registration rules so that a lost day impacts on the attendance statistics - at present it does not. We need more strong leaders like Mr Hambling.

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    siouxsie

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Crazy that a head should be forced to justify his decision to open a school. If parents are unhappy with sending their children to school, they can keep them at home. If travel is too difficult or dangerous for a given fairly, then stay home. School coach operators know their routes and their drivers know the safe capabilities of their coaches. If its too bad the coach doesn't get to school. Its only right that if its safe to do so, a school should be open for those able andor willing to attend, rather than remain closed for some spurious health and safety reason, or worse still, because a minority of students cant get in. Closing early on Tuesday was a sensible and timely call given the unexpectedly heavy daytime snowfall, and tomorrow may hold a similar challenge. I have every confidence in Mr Hambling, who makes his decisions on this from experience and confidence in his staff and students. My eldest son does feel a bit aggrieved though - his younger brothers school at the other end of Dereham remains closed ,

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    rosie

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

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