Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Snow Day

Claire took this from her loft-study window. This is what we got up to yesterday morning. I turned on Radio Leeds to hear about school closures and we weren't mentioned. Every other school in the region was. With sinking heart I dressed and then thought to check the school's website. At 6.32 it came up. Closed. That's Claire and I at home due to closures and Anna on a day off. Rachel set off to walk to Leeds Met Unversity looking like an eskimo - Oh and rather pissed off I felt.

I wrote an essay and did some housework. Anna hibernated in front of the T.V and Claire went round to Natalie's whose school was also shut.

One in five didn't get to work today nationally.


Today I got up at the usual time and with a sinking heart because the promised snow had not fallen, turned on the website. Open as normal.

I set off and the journey was better than usual apart from the first two hundred yards from my door to the main road and the last mile and a half from the motorway to the school. My employing authority has a habit of building its High Schools in a field on a hill, miles from civilization.

As I arrived in the car park I was surprised by how few cars there were and realised I had passed no pupils on the way. Four disconsolate looking teachers and a caretaker were standing in reception and the phones were ringing off their cradles.

"Is the school open?"

"There are no school buses. They are refusing to drive on these roads. My daughter's been waiting for half an hour and has just come in frozen. I shan't be sending her."

"None of the other schools are open and I've to go to work. Emma will be staying at home to babysit"

"The pavements are too treacherous. I'm keeping the kids off today."

"I can't believe you're open"

By half past eight we have twenty five staff, not all teaching, and about sixty Kids.

We should have nearly one hundred staff and thirteen hundred kids.

"I can't make it to work. There's black ice on my road."

"I've just had a bump in the car and now I'm in a snow drift. I can't come in."

"I'm not setting off until you guarantee that you won't be closing. I'm not wasting all that time stuck in iced up traffic jams only to go home again."

The Head gathers us in the staff room and the kids in the dining hall. He is closing the school. Ellie comes in at that point looking like a polar explorer, turns round and without a word leaves. Halima's dad has just dropped her off and has set off home.

"What do I do now?"

There is an indignant mother in reception.

"I have just risked life and limb on these roads to get these four to school because you said you were open and now you're closing. It's just not good enough."

As I drive home with librarian Joe for company we pass a school bus. It has exactly five pupils on it.

We leave the Headteacher with the theatre in education company who had been booked for today and the people from the study skills seminar who were due to do a session for Yr 11.

I write another essay. Rachel and Anna are at work and Claire has gone to Natalie's.

It is icing up again nicely now. All our gritters seem to have gone to London.

The website says open as normal tomorrow.

What are the chances?