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Rain may cause wetness

I'm a bit disappointed. It's November and I haven't had a directive from the local authority or the Department for Education about the seasonal dangers we're up against. What dangers? Well, rain, for a start.

When it rains, it is possible that pupils may suffer from wetness at playtime. There are, however, factors governing this. If the rain is very light, then the level of wetness will be low. A headteacher, or designated body, can determine whether the rain can be categorised as light by performing an action known as "looking out of the window". If raindrops cannot be clearly seen, it is likely the children will not be affected by wetness.

If, however, the rain can be heard, there are two clear ways to proceed. The children can go out to play, but must put on waterproof clothing. If the rain becomes heavier, they can take refuge. This is known as "sheltering under the playground shed". Of course, if the rain is torrential it would be better if the children did not go out to play, otherwise the teachers will be drying out clothing on radiators for the rest of the day.

And what about leaves? It should be noted that leaves fall off the trees in November and they can be very dangerous, especially when combined with wetness. Children can slip on them. So can elderly staff, like me. It is a good idea, therefore, to warn the occupants of your building that eyes should be trained downwards in autumn to avoid foot slippage. One way of alleviating the problem is to let children gather the leaves for collage work, but do make sure everybody washes their hands thoroughly after handling them. You never know where they've been.

Sorry, but these days I'm conditioned to expect seasonal health and safety directives telling me how to proceed. After all, it's not that long since the gorgeous weather at the end of the summer term was accompanied by documentation about the inherent dangers of a bit of sunshine.

First, a leaflet arrived telling me how public services could be affected in the heat. There would be an increased demand for water, the implication being, I guess, that we should go easy filling the staffroom kettles. There could be staff shortages, presumably if teachers had been silly enough to sit naked in their gardens all weekend. There could be sudden changes in the weather, or flash flooding, or an increase in fires.

Accompanying this was an NHS booklet about looking after yourself in hot weather. On the front were pictures of the sun, an older bloke sensibly putting his straw hat on, and a tree, because that would be a jolly good thing to sit under when it's hot. Inside was more helpful advice, telling me that loose clothes would help me to keep cool and that, if I came across someone suffering from the heat, it would be sensible to move them to a cooler place. Drinking is a really good idea, too, water being the ideal beverage. Best keep Year 6 off the lager, then.

How on earth did we manage in the past? Have we suddenly become so stupid that blindingly obvious procedures need constantly stating in terms that would insult a 10-year-old? Mind you, since fast-food restaurants feel the need to issue customers with notices telling them to take care when drinking coffee because the liquid is hot, I suppose nothing should surprise us any more.

Mike Kent is headteacher at Comber Grove Primary, Camberwell, south London. Email: mikejkent@aol.com.

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