Taking the Decision to Close the School
We will always try to open regardless of weather but may need to make an emergency closure when the state of the weather or any other exceptional circumstance make it necessary in the best interests of the pupils and staff.
The presumption would always be in favour of keeping the school open unless, in the Executive Headteacher’s view, to do so would put the health, safety or welfare of pupils and/or staff at risk. In reaching this decision, the following considerations will be taken into account, local circumstances and, in particular:
(a) Both short and longer term weather information: Further information on this will be sought from local and national weather forecasts, including the BBC. Attention should be paid to ascertaining what would be a safe and appropriate time to send pupils and staff home (if already at school when inclement weather sets in).
(b) Advice regarding local transport and the safety of local roads: Whether buses and trains are running, and whether it is safe to drive on local roads.
(c) Arrangements for pupil safety: The absolute priority is to ensure that provision is made for each and every child. Where children cannot be collected immediately, they will be kept at school and supervised until collection can take place.
(d) Whether the school is accessible, and has working heating/electrics/water.
The closure or opening of other schools in the proximity will not be the key factor in such taking decisions, although this may be taken into account. It is the responsibility of all teachers to make every effort to come in to school each morning, however, where staff travel a fair distance by car or public transport their safety and wellbeing must be paramount in decision making too. A school with minimal staffing is not a safe environment for children due to staff – pupil ratios not being within recommended safety guidelines.
Advice To Parents
It is recognised that parents have a key role to play in the event of severe weather. If they have concerns about bringing their children to and from the school, they should “play safe” and keep them at home, informing the school that they are doing so. The fact that several parents take this view does not, however, mean that the school will be closed, unless the considerations listed above indicate that this is the only sensible decision.
It is essential that, when there is potential for school closures due to severe weather conditions, we are in a position to communicate quickly and clearly with parents.
Our website is an important information channel in these situations. Any decision to close will be taken as early in the day as possible, or if feasible notification will be provided the evening before. This will involve putting an announcement on the website, leaving an appropriate message on the school answerphone, and emailing parents and staff. HEART FM Radio will also be used as a means of communication. The school Twitter Feed (@AvonwoodHead) and official Facebook page will also post updates.
Closure during the school day
Safe and speedy dismissal of pupils in the event of an emergency closure depends on the school and parents working in partnership. Parents should provide the school with any specific instructions in respect of their child should the school require to close during the day. Parents are required to give the school emergency contact numbers. It is parent’s responsibility to keep this information up to date with the school office. In the event of a school closure parents will be contacted and asked to collect their children as soon as possible.
The Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team will remain at school until ALL pupils are collected to ensure the provision of adequate supervision by members of teaching staff for those pupils who cannot go home immediately and have therefore to remain at school.