Snowbound schools and simmering discontent

22 Jan

As the number of young, legally truanting visitors to A and E  grows the question asked of Headteachers up and down the land has been: why isn’t your school open? As a former teacher in boarding schools I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times, in 35 years of teaching, that my workplace was considered hors de combat. Huge snow drifts preventing any vehicular access or, more prosaically, no service or private hire buses running were the reasons. Health and safety – seemingly the biggest player these days was less of a factor; personal responsibility and commonsense featured highly.

The snow-faring nations round the world have a bit of a larff at us at this time of year as we mumble and groan our way through the inept navigation of winter. Sports Direct sell little grippy things you can attach to the bottom of your shoes: mums and dads – buy them. Halfords flog cheap snow chains for those of us unfortunate enough to be without a 4 by 4: get them. I broke an arm once slipping in a school playground:my parents didn’t sue; rather they told me I wasn’t being careful enough.

So what is the mindset of the modern Headteacher? Certainly not ‘Let’s give whoever can make it in a productive day’ it appears. Or am I doing our education leaders a disservice? Presumably they are plagued from morning till night with boxes to be ticked, compliance to be complied with, rules to be tabled and policies to be thought through, discussed at high level meetings and implmented to the letter for fear that some upstart parent (or pupil) will pick up on the detail and fire litigious bullets into the study.

Oh come on. Get some cojones! So much coming out of local authorities and health and safety executives and the dozens of quangos that plague education is advisory, not statutory. I once worked for a Head whose first question of colleagues when they suggested, boorishly, that some protocol needed to be adopted was ‘Would it be a good thing for the pupils and for us?’; the second question -‘Do we have to?’

This Head was guided by instinct, a natural sense of justice and commonsense. Come on guys and girls, put a smile on your faces and go for it!

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One Response to “Snowbound schools and simmering discontent”

  1. John Marshall January 22, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Very well put Sorro; a lot more common sense and resposibility on ones own part makes for a better environment for all (without having to sue everybody who does not conform). JM

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