School snow closures

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Decisions on whether to close schools because of the snow should be taken quickly and on as local a basis as possible, Education Secretary Michael Russell said today.

In a letter to Directors of Education, Mr Russell said blanket closures across local authorities should only happen in exceptional circumstances and that headteachers are best placed to make decisions on closure.

He praised staff for their recent efforts to keep schools open during the worst snowfall for this time of year since 1965 and says that where staff are unable to reach their normal place of work they should, if possible, go to their nearest school.

Education Secretary Michael Russell said:

“Firstly, I’d like to thank all school staff for their efforts to do what they can to keep schools open, keep parents informed and put plans in place for re-opening schools. This has been a particularly challenging period and I do not under estimate the effect the adverse weather has had on our schools.

“During the last few days, we’ve been in touch with all Scottish councils and heard many examples of good practice. I’ve written to all councils to share that best practice and help councils learn from each others experience.

“This best practice makes clear that decisions should be made locally based on weather, access and safety around individual schools. It suggests that blanket closures should be the exception not the rule – where weather is particularly bad such as we have seen in recent days.

“I am also asking Directors of Education to make every efforts to keep schools open, to ensure that decisions are taken quickly and, where possible, the night before and ensure they are communicated directly to parents by text, email and other means. In addition staff who are unable to make their normal place of work should, try and report to their nearest school. This flexibility could help keep schools open.

“I know that huge efforts have been made by lots of young people and staff to get to schools across Scotland this week and that road closures and dangerous conditions – the worst in a generation – have made school closures unavoidable. However we all want to ensure that our young people do not miss out on a moment more of education than is necessary and I believe that sharing best practice can help us achieve this.”