Head congratulates parents who keep pupils home to play in the snow

The 'joy' that snow offers to children more valuable than classwork and should be celebrated, says incoming HMC chair

snow days, headteacher, NQT advice, hero, villain, school closure

An independent-school headteacher is encouraging parents to keep their children at home for snow days – to build "special memories" he believes are more valuable than classwork.

Reigate Grammar School's head Shaun Fenton has spoken out as parts of the country have been hit with heavy snow caused by a weather front branded "The Beast from the East".

He has emailed parents saying: "I believe that there are too few snow days for our children where they can go out and enjoy making snowmen and go sledging. Therefore, if there is a lot of snow and you can go sledging or make snowmen with your children today, then maybe today is a chance to make some special memories."

The Surrey school has said that any pupil taking up the offer will not be marked absent. 

Mr Fenton added: "I realise that for some families work/other commitments mean that they will not have any options about the day, whereas for others it makes sense to enjoy making snowmen and sledging.

"Looking back to my own childhood, in these moments some fabulous lifelong childhood memories were formed, memories that lasted longer than any lessons taught at school!"

Later this year, Mr Fenton is set to become chair of the Headmaster and Headmistresses Conference, the organisation representing the country's leading independent schools.

He said: "Although the snow causes immense disruption for many people, I think the joy it offers to children and young people should be celebrated.

"Exam results are crucial, but as a school that believes that education is about far more than what is learned in the classroom, I’m encouraging our students and their families to make some special memories before the 'Beast from the East' returns to Siberia."

At the end of last term, when Reigate escaped the snowfall that affected many other parts of the country, the school created its own snow day by hiring industrial snow machines to transform its playground. 

However, parents in the state sector may want to think twice before following Mr Fenton's advice, amid a crackdown by local authorities on term-time truancy.

"We’re not hidebound by compliance," acknowleged Mr Fenton. "If parents choose to keep their children home to make memories they’re to be congratulated."

Today, more than a thousand schools across the UK have been closed due to the snow, with Kent, North Yorkshire and Suffolk among the areas most affected in England.

The weather is set to worsen as the week goes on, with temperatures expected to plunge tonight and up to 20cm of snow being forecast in parts of the south-east by Friday.

More than half of Scotland's schools were closed today, and the snowfall was predicted to reach 40cm in some areas. A number of local authorities have already announced that all their schools will be closed tomorrow.

The Met Office warned that some communities in Scotland could be cut off for several days.

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