Why does Fallibroome try to stay open in the snow?

In our view, it is our professional responsibility to remain open if possible. We know that many of our parents work full-time and that school closures can cause them huge inconvenience.

Also, even though lessons are likely to be disrupted, we believe that it is important that we offer the best provision possible in the circumstances.

As a result, we will only close if we feel that conditions on the site are not safe.

If I don’t send my son/daughter to school in poor weather, how will Fallibroome Academy deal with this absence?

We know that travelling to school in the snow can be hazardous, even for relatively short distances. If a parent decides that this risk is too great, we will authorise this absence. We advise parents to send a note with their son/daughter to explain these circumstances on their return to school.

We are also happy to authorise late arrivals to school if a parent decides to come in a little later than usual to avoid periods of heavy traffic.

Will off-site trips go ahead in snowy weather?

 We consider two factors when reaching a decision about off-site trips:

  • Is the venue open and safe?
  • Are the roads open and safe?

We always make contact with the venue before setting off on a trip in poor weather. We also work with the transport company to review the road and weather conditions etc. If we are advised that it is safe to do so, we will allow the trip to go ahead.

A final decision with respect to trips will not be made until immediately before the students are due to set off. As a result, a decision to cancel a trip may be made at the last minute.

If a trip is cancelled, students will be sent to their normal lessons. We do not send students home when a trip is cancelled. Information about this cancellation will be sent to parents as soon as possible and certainly well before the end of the school day.

What factors does the school consider when deciding to stay open or to close?

The most important factor is the safety of the site. Our facilities staff are in school before 7am clearing pathways and car parks. If our Site Manager is of the view that this work can be completed before the start of the school day, we will probably open the school.

We also assess the road conditions immediately around the school, particularly Priory Lane. We are more likely to close if Priory Lane has not been gritted and has become too dangerous.

Sometimes, we are contacted by public transport companies to tell us that they are unable to run their normal service. If this happens before the start of the school day, we are very likely to close. If it happens during the school day, we are likely to close before 3.30.

We also pay close attention to the weather forecast before reaching a final decision. If heavy snow is forecast throughout the day, we are more likely to close. Also, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the school open if the poor weather continues for several days with fresh snow falling on icy ground.

It is also possible that the school may suffer the loss of essential services such as power or electricity during poor weather. Such an eventuality is very likely to lead to school closure.

Assessing likely levels of staff absence is also a key factor (see below).

Why are lessons so disrupted by snowy weather?
What’s the point of sending my son/daughter to school if they are not going to have their normal lessons?

Many of our staff live some distance away from Macclesfield. While they all make every effort to get to work, sometimes this is just not possible. Staff absence can be very high in snowy weather and covering for this absence at very short notice can be immensely challenging. As a result, colleagues cover for each other as best they can. While we recognise that this can result in lessons that are not normal, we still believe that it is better for us to offer this reduced service than to close the school.

If a teacher has their normal group, we do ask them to try to teach as normal a lesson as possible, even if student absence is high. However, if they are covering for an absent colleague at short notice, this will not be possible and we may have to resort to using videos etc.

Why does the school sometimes put a whole year group in the Performance Hall for an assembly?
Why are some year groups sometimes sent home and not others?

If staff absence is particularly high, we may choose put on an assembly for one or more year groups. Usually, we do this during Period 1 or Period 2 and then return to more normal lessons as colleagues arrive to school later in the morning.

Sometimes, we also choose to send one or two year groups home as this frees up some of our teaching staff to cover for others. Normally, we allow the Sixth Form to go home or to work independently in the Sixth Form Centre in these circumstances.

If you open the school in snowy weather, can you guarantee that it is absolutely safe for my child to come to school?

No.  We take reasonable measures in order to make the site as safe as possible. This involves clearing pathways through the snow around school and we also do our best to keep corridor floors dry and free from melting snow and ice.

Slipping and falling remain a risk during poor weather and students and staff are consequently encouraged to take extra care when moving around school. For this reason, we also amend our uniform expectations to minimise this risk (see below). If we are unable to clear satisfactory paths around school, we will not open.

How does the school communicate with parents with regard to these issues?
How early can the school make a decision about whether the school will open or not?

We update our website regularly during the day so that parents know whether we are open or closed as soon as possible. We also repeat these messages using Twitter and Facebook and may occasionally use email too. School closures are also communicated through local radio stations.

We are aware of a very small number of families who do not have any Internet access. In these circumstances, we advise these families to either keep in touch with a family friend who can keep them updated, or to let us know that they are unable to access our website so that we can arrange to contact them personally during periods of poor weather.

We start assessing the conditions on site and on Priory Lane from 7am. We then collect information from public transport companies and from our staff about the transport conditions in their area throughout the next hour or so. We do our utmost to collate this information and reach a decision by 8am, although this is not always possible.

What are the school’s uniform expectations during snowy weather?

We allow alternative footwear (e.g. walking boots) during snowy weather. All other uniform expectations remain unchanged. In particular, we do not allow hoodies or other casual tops to be worn under blazers. If students want to protect themselves against the cold, they can use a school jumper and an outdoor coat.