LETTER: No excuse for schools closing due to snow

MONDAY morning (January 21st) and all is well for the start of a new week, but 2in. of snow had fallen.

It would seem the gritters had been out and the main roads were flowing well, even many of the secondary routes and housing estates had been gritted, so nine out of 10 to all those concerned.

Buses were running. At 8am a neighbour across the road cleared her car and set off to the hospital on the opposite side of town, her husband set off to work at Skipton, another went to Warrington, and another to Manchester, all without any problem whatsoever.

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The supermarkets all opened up on time, shops, banks, etc in the town centre were up and running pretty well as normal, as were most industries around the town and elsewhere.

My issue, though it doesn’t affect me as I’m retired (though scheduled to look after a grandchild for the day), is that most of the schools in the area closed for the day. The message probably went out to parents just before 8am, leaving many who go to work in disarray, having to arrange family or friends to look after children at a moment’s notice, or worse still, take time off work themselves, possibly unpaid as a result of this totally unnecessary action.

Just down the road from where I live, Wellfield School closed, though I believe St Mary’s immediately adjacent opened, and Chez Nanny Nursery (taking paying guests so to speak – close and get no income for the day) across the road opened as usual, one staff member travelling from Trawden.

I cannot believe closing schools on a whim as a result of a bit of snow should be tolerated like this. It’s time for parents to speak up. Health and safety excuses are a nonsense, the site supervisor should be requested to clear the main path into school at, say, 7am (taking time off later to compensate) and the requisite equipment and salt made available.

Children don’t have to go outside at lunchtime, although playing in the snow is such a fantastic pastime in any case.

I know a headteacher, now retired, who used to go to school at 6am and clear the snow himself, and the school rarely closed. Now, it’s just too easy.

Another excuse, teachers have to travel so far to get to school. Again, this is a totally nonsensical excuse as many people travel more than 50 miles to work each day. I bet there are many living in Burnley work in Manchester or beyond and they all got to work. If they didn’t go, they would soon get a message from their employer, though exceptional situations can arise.

Regrettably, teachers go to school, then to college and back to school. They simply have no experience of the real world we live in, more so with the present economic climate. They are paid exceptionally well, still with final salary pensions and 13 weeks holiday.

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They should, therefore, have far more consideration for the ordinary working person who strives to keep a job, and taking time off without pay is no help at all.

From an educational point of view, any school days missed by such trivial action should be made up from holiday periods.

I can fully understand if a school in mid-Wales or on the hills of Derbyshire were to close because of snow, but Burnley, where most of the roads are cleared, is not acceptable.

So, parents, speak up with the headteacher or governors. Don’t tolerate it any more. I am copying this letter to Gordon Birtwistle our MP because in my view there should be stricter guidelines about school closures. Those in place at present clearly don’t work.

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Overall – three out of 10. Work not acceptable, must try harder.