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Priestmead Primary School & Nursery

Moving Onwards and Upwards Together

  • We will copy and paste letters here for translation using the GOOGLE TRANSLATE function

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SNOW-WATCH!

Dear Parents/Carers,

With various forecasts indicating a risk of snow over the coming weeks, there are a number of actions which take place in preparation, and also in response to potential risks.  There are always a number of complex considerations ahead of decision-making regarding any school closure.  We endeavour to keep the school open to educate our children, taking into account a number of factors which we have outlined below:

PROACTIVE ACTIONS:

  • We ask Harrow Council to ensure that gritting will happen on roads and pavements to enable families to get onto the site – you could email the Council too!
  • We check the weather forecast regularly, looking at the percentage chance of snow on the BBC
  • We regularly service and check school boilers and heating systems
  • We regularly review stock levels of grit
  • We check the quality of snow shovels to ensure we can deal with snow clearing
  • We ask staff to rehearse alternative ways to get to school if snow hampers the usual method
  • Our Leadership Team, Premises Team and other staff volunteers are on standby to get to school from 6am to see how quickly we can clear safe pathways and risk assess the site
  • Throughout, we send parents/carers texts and emails as necessary (Do you receive texts? If not, see us ASAP)
  • Local Primary Headteachers communicate frequently to share conditions near their schools

CONSIDERATIONS IN SEVERE WEATHER:

  1. Can a sufficient number of teachers get into school so that we can teach?
  2. Our staff have children in school - can they arrange childcare for them in case their school closes?
  3. Can sufficient support staff get into school for first aid, catering, supervision and SEN provision?
  4. Can we, as Headteachers with responsibility for staff as well as children, feel confident all our staff can get home again safely if the weather is unpredictable? (Many staff live in Central London and rely on the tube or beyond the M25 relying on motorways or around Hertfordshire)
  5. If we had to evacuate the building, is there a safe non-icy space for children to safely wait, acknowledging the weather conditions as they may be outdoors for some time and cannot stop to grab coats etc?  Is this more of a risk?
  6. Can emergency services access the school site? Ambulance? Fire Brigade?
  7. Are the surrounding public roads and pavements safe enough to enable children to safely get to the site and leave the site?
  8. Can we clear safe pathways on-site, to enable parents/carers and children to enter the site and leave the site?
  9. What are the travel conditions in the local area? Has the Met Office recommended to avoid driving?
  10. Can we get deliveries in for food so children can have lunches, or milk, or fruit?
  11. Is the heating and hot water functioning as normal?
  12. If we close, how will working parents/carers arrange childcare?

Whatever decision we make, it is never taken lightly.  Our options are:

  1. Close a day in advance and hope the forecast was right
  2. Decide on the morning by 7am at the latest, when we have assessed the school site
  3. Open as normal, but use “early closure” if the weather seems to change

ABOVE ALL ELSE, WHAT IS THE SAFEST DECISION TO ENSURE SAFETY FOR THE CHILDREN & STAFF?

We try to keep families well informed so they know what we are doing.  We will message you: 

  • A possibility of closure
  • Advance possibility of closure in the next two days
  • Possible early closure

Parents phoning up insisting a decision is made “NOW” is not helpful!  We are not the weather gurus!

In the past, our office teams have taken dozens of calls from parents/carers asking for more information before the time we said we would update families.  If we say we will let you know by a specific time, we will!  Clogging phone lines is not helpful!  We also keep our websites updated.

To clarify some myths:

  1. We would not text at a specific time to say collect your child NOW unless it was an absolute emergency such as a fire or other critical incident.  We know it takes time for you to make plans.  We understand!
  1. We aim to give at least 1½-2 hours notice ahead of an early school closure or more if we can!
  1. We cannot allow every parent/carer wanting  “special treatment” of them coming to pick up their child earlier than everyone else as it is convenient for their plans to happen!

Sometimes we will make the perfect judgment call, sometimes it will be wrong.  No one can truly predict the weather with 100% accuracy or the impact of it!

Please work with us, support our decisions and if things are not perfect, know that we have done all we can to make the best decision possible with the information we have, for over 1300 children, over 180 staff and over 2000 parents/carers across our two schools!

As soon as we can confirm a change to any normal school day plan, we will let you know!

What we ask now, is that if you are a working parent/carer or a parent/carer with medical needs, or would find childcare difficult if school was closed/closed early, you have made contingency plans NOW on how your child will be collected/looked after – whether this is speaking to your employer in advance, speaking to other parents and asking them to help, speaking to relatives etc.  We all need to plan ahead.  Living in the UK, the weather is varied – let’s be prepared !
Yours sincerely,

Mr Hamidi                          

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