Parents left bewildered as some Gwent schools stay shut despite thaw

WE TURNED UP: Pupils at Gaer Infants School in their classroom yesterday

WE TURNED UP: Pupils at Gaer Infants School in their classroom yesterday

First published in News

PARENTS were left puzzled yesterday as to why more than 200 schools took the decision to close while others opened.

Almost 200 Gwent schools were closed or partly closed yesterday due to snow, but many others took the decision to open.

All 32 Blaenau Gwent schools were shut, along with 78 in the Caerphilly county borough and 38 in Torfaen.

Fifteen were closed in Monmouthshire and 34 were shut in Newport, including many secondary schools, which were only open to pupils sitting or studying for exams.

But by 10am yesterday morning many roads in Newport were drivable as the snow began to melt, while the Valleys remained snowbound.

Duffryn High School was one of only four secondary schools in the city open to all pupils. Neighbouring St Joseph’s High School was closed, except for exams.

Jon Wilson, head teacher at Duffryn, said he would always open the school when possible, and said it was important that parents sent their children in.

Despite a notice on the school’s website at 7am saying they would be open, only 60 per cent of pupils attended yesterday.

Although some youngsters travel by buses, he said, the majority of those still lived within reasonable walking distance so there was no excuse for them not to attend. As a result the school made truancy calls to all those absent.

Such absences affect attendance targets, he said, which could impact on the Welsh Government’s school banding system, which rates how good or bad a school is.

He said: “Whatever decision you make you feel like piggy in the middle.

“There are some people who will be on your side and others will be moaning.

“We’ve got 60 per cent in today, which is not good enough.”

A decision to open or close a school is not down to council but the head teacher, who will take into consideration a range of aspects.

Marilyn Biddle, who runs Gaer Infants, which had 110 of its 189 pupils in yesterday, said she bases her decision on the weather forecast, whether teachers could get there and if the site was safely accessible.

She praised her staff, who arrived with shovels to clear the pathways, and met children at the gates to ensure they got in safely.

She said: “They have been wonderful. Only one couldn’t get in from Merthyr.”

Many schools closed yesterday kept in touch with pupils via Twitter.

Risca Comprehensive School directed pupils to websites where they could download work, while others, like Cwmcarn High School, used it to kept youngsters up to date about exam cancellations.

Blaenau Gwent, where all schools were closed yesterday, said guidance was issued to schools on what to do in severe weather conditions, but the decision to close schools was made by the head teacher.

However, councils can close schools if a severe weather warning is issued, such as last week.

All exams and interviews scheduled to take place at Newport’s university today have been postponed. Visit newport.ac.uk for details of new dates.

COMMENT: Tell us why you close

WITH more snow yesterday and a repeat forecast for last night the disruption caused by the weather shows no sign of abating.

It was more northerly parts of Gwent that suffered the most yesterday, with significant snowfall in parts of Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Caerphilly council areas.

Most of Newport and parts of Monmouthshire fared better, with Newport’s main roads clear of snow and ice by the middle of the day as a quick thaw set in.

Almost 200 schools were closed or partially closed across Gwent yesterday.

Questions were being asked by Argus readers on our website about the large number of Newport schools closed given the relatively small amount of snow in the city.

The city council came under fire from some, though the decision to close schools in adverse weather conditions is made by individual head teachers.

Perhaps one of the reasons parents become aggrieved by school closures is lack of information.

In general, schools get information out about closures in a timely fashion using all the modern methods of communication.

But what do not get given to parents are the reasons for closures. The result is myths build up.

Perhaps the challenge for schools and councils is to provide a more detailed level of information to parents.

Comments (16)

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1:01pm Wed 23 Jan 13

fieldsof fields says...

Let's not forget that yesterday we were forecast more snow in the afternoon, which didn't materialise but would have been a factor in any head's decision.
Let's not forget that yesterday we were forecast more snow in the afternoon, which didn't materialise but would have been a factor in any head's decision. fieldsof fields
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Wed 23 Jan 13

rsh1976 says...

Schools seem to shut all to quickly these days. If parents drop kids to the door and collect from the door what's the problem? With half term just two weeks away will schools be quick to say this will be cut by the days lost due to weather. Not all parents have family or childcare provision and school closures then result in unpaid leave.
Schools seem to shut all to quickly these days. If parents drop kids to the door and collect from the door what's the problem? With half term just two weeks away will schools be quick to say this will be cut by the days lost due to weather. Not all parents have family or childcare provision and school closures then result in unpaid leave. rsh1976
  • Score: 0

3:12pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Michael Weedall says...

fieldsof fields wrote:
Let's not forget that yesterday we were forecast more snow in the afternoon, which didn't materialise but would have been a factor in any head's decision.
Maybe they don't want staff and pupils stuck, injured. There are lots of factors to take into consideration not just inconvenience caused to parents. People need to get there priorities right.
[quote][p][bold]fieldsof fields[/bold] wrote: Let's not forget that yesterday we were forecast more snow in the afternoon, which didn't materialise but would have been a factor in any head's decision.[/p][/quote]Maybe they don't want staff and pupils stuck, injured. There are lots of factors to take into consideration not just inconvenience caused to parents. People need to get there priorities right. Michael Weedall
  • Score: 0

3:12pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Michael Weedall says...

Maybe they don't want staff and pupils stuck, injured. There are lots of factors to take into consideration not just inconvenience caused to parents. People need to get there priorities right.
Maybe they don't want staff and pupils stuck, injured. There are lots of factors to take into consideration not just inconvenience caused to parents. People need to get there priorities right. Michael Weedall
  • Score: 0

6:17pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Woodgnome says...

Pathetic. Closing schools so readily and frequently is a modern phenomenon.
Pathetic. Closing schools so readily and frequently is a modern phenomenon. Woodgnome
  • Score: 0

9:15pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Limestonecowboy says...

Its a risky strategy basing the decision on the weather forcast! Heads need to get real, in business life goes on get used to it. Health & safety ha!
Its a risky strategy basing the decision on the weather forcast! Heads need to get real, in business life goes on get used to it. Health & safety ha! Limestonecowboy
  • Score: 0

9:45pm Wed 23 Jan 13

brainfreeze says...

Blame the parents, they're the first to get their claim in when little mercedes gets a snowball to the eye.

The heads can't win
Blame the parents, they're the first to get their claim in when little mercedes gets a snowball to the eye. The heads can't win brainfreeze
  • Score: 0

9:53pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Michael Weedall says...

brainfreeze wrote:
Blame the parents, they're the first to get their claim in when little mercedes gets a snowball to the eye.

The heads can't win
100% Agree blame the insurance culture that is screwing everyone even the innocent.
[quote][p][bold]brainfreeze[/bold] wrote: Blame the parents, they're the first to get their claim in when little mercedes gets a snowball to the eye. The heads can't win[/p][/quote]100% Agree blame the insurance culture that is screwing everyone even the innocent. Michael Weedall
  • Score: 0

7:38am Thu 24 Jan 13

kalwales@hotmail.com says...

Funny how people are moaning now that they werent open yet if they did open and something happened or someone got injured those parents would of been quick enough to criticse, Good On them for staying closed , better be safe than sorry !
Funny how people are moaning now that they werent open yet if they did open and something happened or someone got injured those parents would of been quick enough to criticse, Good On them for staying closed , better be safe than sorry ! kalwales@hotmail.com
  • Score: 0

10:04am Thu 24 Jan 13

Bobevans says...

It is mainly excuses by the teachers.All mainm roads in Newport were clear and passable. Health and Safty is just an excuse. The schools come under the same legislation as businesses and they opened

A school is not liable for snow . Itt is classed as an act of god. Nor are they liable for a snowball. THey are only liable if negligent

Another favorite teachers excuse is no school buses. In most case the buses companies could operate but the schools asked them not to.
It is mainly excuses by the teachers.All mainm roads in Newport were clear and passable. Health and Safty is just an excuse. The schools come under the same legislation as businesses and they opened A school is not liable for snow . Itt is classed as an act of god. Nor are they liable for a snowball. THey are only liable if negligent Another favorite teachers excuse is no school buses. In most case the buses companies could operate but the schools asked them not to. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

12:43pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Gw Ent says...

Gwent does not exist. It was a failed local government experiment. Born 1974 to universal hatred. Died 1996 - SIXTEEN YEARS AGO!
Gwent does not exist. It was a failed local government experiment. Born 1974 to universal hatred. Died 1996 - SIXTEEN YEARS AGO! Gw Ent
  • Score: 0

6:15pm Thu 24 Jan 13

iou123 says...

Woodgnome wrote:
Pathetic. Closing schools so readily and frequently is a modern phenomenon.
And unfortunately suing for every litte injury is also a modern phenomenom!
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: Pathetic. Closing schools so readily and frequently is a modern phenomenon.[/p][/quote]And unfortunately suing for every litte injury is also a modern phenomenom! iou123
  • Score: 0

6:27pm Thu 24 Jan 13

ga-ga says...

I can't believe how much parents moan about school closures when at the end of the day they are closed for the safety of their children. I can't comment on Newport schools etc because i don't know what the snows been like down there, but brynmawr I can comment about. Here we have had about a foot of snow over the past few days and no thaw at all. The pavements are too deep to walk on and the roads are slushy and icy. To expect children to walk and travel in these conditions all at the same time each morning is a recipe for disaster. A few days off will not affect their education, the children's safety is whats important! Blaming the heads and the teachers is pathetic, when the heads have to close because the same parents moaning will be the ones suing if their child got injured.
I can't believe how much parents moan about school closures when at the end of the day they are closed for the safety of their children. I can't comment on Newport schools etc because i don't know what the snows been like down there, but brynmawr I can comment about. Here we have had about a foot of snow over the past few days and no thaw at all. The pavements are too deep to walk on and the roads are slushy and icy. To expect children to walk and travel in these conditions all at the same time each morning is a recipe for disaster. A few days off will not affect their education, the children's safety is whats important! Blaming the heads and the teachers is pathetic, when the heads have to close because the same parents moaning will be the ones suing if their child got injured. ga-ga
  • Score: 0

7:06pm Thu 24 Jan 13

sweetiepie says...

And those parents who moaned about THEIR children being home would be the first to complain / sue if their child got injured in the snow!! I decided to keep mine home as the paths by us still have snow and ice on. I almost slipped just clearing the steps. I would rather have the kids home and miss a few days of work knowing they are safe than worrying about getting a call saying they've been hurt.

Many parents see school as free babysitting, maybe if they have such a problem with them being home due to the weather, they shouldn't have had them in the first place?!
And those parents who moaned about THEIR children being home would be the first to complain / sue if their child got injured in the snow!! I decided to keep mine home as the paths by us still have snow and ice on. I almost slipped just clearing the steps. I would rather have the kids home and miss a few days of work knowing they are safe than worrying about getting a call saying they've been hurt. Many parents see school as free babysitting, maybe if they have such a problem with them being home due to the weather, they shouldn't have had them in the first place?! sweetiepie
  • Score: 0

8:20pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Floppy backed says...

sweetiepie wrote:
And those parents who moaned about THEIR children being home would be the first to complain / sue if their child got injured in the snow!! I decided to keep mine home as the paths by us still have snow and ice on. I almost slipped just clearing the steps. I would rather have the kids home and miss a few days of work knowing they are safe than worrying about getting a call saying they've been hurt.

Many parents see school as free babysitting, maybe if they have such a problem with them being home due to the weather, they shouldn't have had them in the first place?!
Really is ice a new condition? - you go prepared most children have wellies and cheap snow boots are available in stores now so no silly excuses over safety perhaps we should start kitting our children out in proper winter clothing. And what a stupid comment about being at home I assume you either dont work or you are fully paid for snow days. Parents dont have endless holiday allocation and running a business myself its difficult to run with children at home after having a christmas break. If parents dont work then the economy would stop plus there would be no nurses, no teachers & no one to keeping the cogs of industry ticking - comments like this are typical of ignorance just because you love to stay at home doesnt mean the rest want or can.
[quote][p][bold]sweetiepie[/bold] wrote: And those parents who moaned about THEIR children being home would be the first to complain / sue if their child got injured in the snow!! I decided to keep mine home as the paths by us still have snow and ice on. I almost slipped just clearing the steps. I would rather have the kids home and miss a few days of work knowing they are safe than worrying about getting a call saying they've been hurt. Many parents see school as free babysitting, maybe if they have such a problem with them being home due to the weather, they shouldn't have had them in the first place?![/p][/quote]Really is ice a new condition? - you go prepared most children have wellies and cheap snow boots are available in stores now so no silly excuses over safety perhaps we should start kitting our children out in proper winter clothing. And what a stupid comment about being at home I assume you either dont work or you are fully paid for snow days. Parents dont have endless holiday allocation and running a business myself its difficult to run with children at home after having a christmas break. If parents dont work then the economy would stop plus there would be no nurses, no teachers & no one to keeping the cogs of industry ticking - comments like this are typical of ignorance just because you love to stay at home doesnt mean the rest want or can. Floppy backed
  • Score: 0

8:52pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Floppy backed says...

What is even more ludicrous is parents banging on about safety when they send their children out in freezing weather all day to climb hills to slide down on bits of flimsy plastic on their spines! Now with my risk assessments I wonder which one is safer?
What is even more ludicrous is parents banging on about safety when they send their children out in freezing weather all day to climb hills to slide down on bits of flimsy plastic on their spines! Now with my risk assessments I wonder which one is safer? Floppy backed
  • Score: 0

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