The BBC website has described the dilemma headteachers face regarding whether they should close their school or not. Schools can’t please all parents on this issue: this week, most parents have praised us for staying open whilst many other Leeds schools haven’t, but there have been one or two parents complaining that we should also have closed. Today, many parents wanted to know if we would be open tomorrow – but closing our school is a last resort and a decision I don’t take lightly.
The article lists many different factors and conflicting opinions that have to be considered. For example, people have today been advised that they should only travel when it is “essential”. The Department for Education regards travelling to school as essential and says both staff and pupils should try to do so safely, but the National Union of Teachers disagrees, arguing that “essential” should mean emergency services, gritters etc.
When making a decision to stay open or close, my main priority is safety: the safety of children, obviously, but also the safety of parents and carers who need to collect their child, the safety of staff who face challenging journeys home, and even the safety of our neighbours on Shadwell Lane, a road that can get severely clogged up with traffic (this has in the past blocked emergency vehicles from gaining access).
At Moortown, we’re lucky in that many staff live locally. Teachers and support staff stayed for as long as they could today: Mr Owen and Mr Wilks, for example, stayed until after lunchtime so that they were around to provide extra supervision, and then faced very long journeys home on foot, whilst Mrs Weekes, Mrs Wilson, Mrs O’Malley, Mrs Sherriff and Mr Wilson stayed throughout the day ensuring those children still at school were safe, and that parents need not dangerously hurry to school.
I’m extremely grateful to all staff for their efforts and to parents who collected their child as soon as it was safe to do so.
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