snowclearanceWith the current wintery conditions around perhaps it is a good time to remind parents, students and staff what to do if there is heavy snowfall.

 

In the past heavy snowfalls have prevented the school from opening (Please see 'Why does the school sometimes have to close due to severe weather?' below). In response to this we have invested in better snow clearance equipment that will help the site staff clear snow from enough of the site to make it operational. Of course reasonable care still needs to be taken by pupils, staff and visitors during such snowy conditions.

Any decision to close the school will take place after a visual inspection of the site early on the first school day after any snowfall. Notice of closure can only be given once that has occurred, not earlier. However the key point is with our enhanced snow clearance equipment we aim and expect the school to be open when, and if, we do get heavy snow.

SnowColAlthough we anticipate our enhanced snow clearance equipment will do the job it may be that on the day we are unable to clear enough snow in time for the school to operate.

However, the default position should be for parents, pupils and school staff to expect the school to be open when, and if, heavy snow falls, rather than assuming any significant snowfall will mean the school will be closed as has been the case in the past.

Enough staff

Snow CarWhere the new equipment will aid snow clearance on the school site, the decision to open the school will still be influenced by whether we have sufficient numbers of school staff arriving for work to supervise the pupils adequately. If travel conditions are so bad that it prevents staff from getting to work then the school may still have to close in severe weather. (Please see 'Why does the school sometimes have to close due to severe weather?' below).

Please try to avoid ringing the school to ask whether it is open or closed as this causes significant problems for urgent communications. Watch the website or our Twitter feed for further news about if the school is closed. 

 Website notifications

Website03In the past, due to the heavy website traffic during such times the website has failed. We have taken steps, including engaging a new website hosting provider, that should mean the website can cope with unusally high levels of hits.

Of course if the website does fail we will have to fall back on traditional means of communicating, a notice posted on the school gates!


Why does the school sometimes have to close due to severe weather?

Occasionally the school is forced to close due to severe weather, usually snow. The prime reason for deciding to close the school is the safety of the pupils.

Two factors regarding pupils' safety normally have to be considered when deciding to close or keep the school open for pupils.

The first is the nature of the school site and its buildings.

imgp2642_edited-2Highams Park school is made up of a number of separate blocks built at various times over the last 80 years. Unlike most schools, particularly newer ones, pupils in Highms Park have to go outside in order to move between lessons located in different buildings. The sloping playground is a main route for many pupils moving between lessons and there is a danger of pupils injuring themselves when it is slippery. Most other paths between buildings are not covered and equally suffer from the effects of snow and ice. Clearing the paths and playground to provide reasonably safe routes between buildings is a constant challenge in winter, one which heavy snowfall can sometimes overwhelm.

The second factor is the availability of staff.

snowroads2.jpgStaff are needed not only to teach but to supervise the pupils both in lesson time and at other times in the school day, particularly lunch and break times. Teachers are needed to teach lessons and supervise children, non-teaching support staff are essential to provide caretaking, school meals and other duties. Severe weather conditions sometimes mean that travel to school for staff can be at best, extremely difficult, and for many, almost impossible. Very few members of staff live within walking distance of the school, most travel considerable distances to get to school, many by car. The school cannot safely supervise the children with the attendant reponsibility if there are insufficient numbers of staff in school.

We try to remain open at all times

imgp2604_edited-2Every effort is made to keep the school open at all times it should be. The decision to close is always very carefully considered and never taken lightly.

The decision to open or close is made as early as possible so that we can inform parents via the website. However as early as possible means once the school site has been inspected and assessed by the site manager and senior staff. That can usually only be done early on the morning of a significant snowfall once the Principal / senior staff and the site manager have themselves arrived at school.

We trust parents understand the difficulties extreme events cause for the school and why the school occasionally is forced to close.

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Highams Park Academy Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with registered number 07738801
[and VAT registered number 119-0793-09] and whose registered office is at Highams Park School Handsworth Avenue, Highams Park, London, E4 9PJ.
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