Chilling at home: how snow froze out lessons

3rd December 2010 at 00:00
Unusually harsh weather conditions close schools - and forecasters say it is not over

Tens of thousands of pupils were told to stay at home this week as schools across the country closed due to record snowfalls for the time of year.

Scotland, the North and North East of England were affected first and by Tuesday almost every part of the UK had snowfall, prompting severe weather warnings from the Met Office. On Wednesday, fresh snow showers and sub- zero temperatures continued, with up to 15cm of snow in places and icy north-easterly winds. Forecasters warned of little sign of let-up until Friday - and more snow is expected over the weekend.

Hundreds of schools were closed in the South East and London, the East Midlands and the North East. But the South West, West Midlands and North West escaped the worst of the weather. No schools closed in Manchester on Wednesday and just three were shut in Lancashire.

Dr Lynn Rose, head of Lindisfarne Middle School in Alnwick, opened on Wednesday but had to close at lunchtime following reports of dangerous driving conditions.

She said: "Every day we do our best to open, if it is safe to do so. But there is a lot of deep snow. It is up to my knees on our school site and where the snow had slipped off the roof, it was up to the caretaker's waist.

"Our concern is to get the children home safely. Some of our transport providers didn't manage to get children into school and we are getting reports from them that the roads south of Alnwick are worsening. We share transport with other schools so we made the joint decision to close."

Ian Bruce, head of Rosemellin school in Camborne, Cornwall, said: "We had to shut on Monday because the roads were completely closed. The caretaker has done a brilliant job clearing pathways in and out of school, but the children can't go out because the playground is covered in a sheet of ice."

In Hampshire, which has escaped the worst of the weather, the council agreed this week to intensify its winter weather plans after the severe weather in January and February caused travel chaos. The council has doubled the number of grit bins and imported salt from Alexandria in Egypt to ensure there is enough.

As well as planning to grit major routes when snow is forecast, it has agreed nine new "community routes" which will be gritted to ensure access to schools and doctors' surgeries.

TES forums: Now for the frost reports

sonicstage

In Kent, struggled in yesterday through congested roads and took two hours because someone decided that it would be ok to open. Then they announced closure at 10am. Again two hours to get back and abandoned my car before home and walked.

hoodedbrowser

We were off today (Northumberland) and school is closed for pupils tomorrow but staff are expected to get in. Nobody would mind going in if it were to support the pupils, but the outrage is that we'll be risking life and limb to get into a pupil-free school to put up the Christmas decorations!

manic28

Spare a thought for us in the North West who are presently without snow and none is forecast. You lucky buggers you! Go and write your name in it!

bex2606

I get the impression that our HT is under pressure from the LA to open. We have been open this week in conditions that are worse than days we were closed in JanFeb.

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