Diary of a headteacher: Snow – a no-win situation

No matter whether you decided to close or risked staying open during the recent snow-storm, people will have been lining up to criticise your decision…A headteacher from the Midlands writes in SecEd.

It is no secret that headteachers face many dilemmas throughout their time leading schools. I would say that on most days in school there are tough decisions that need making and I feel that a significant part of my job is to get these calls right.

Over the past few weeks we have experienced weather conditions that have been pretty horrendous. The volume of snow falling, combined with extremely low temperatures, has meant that headteachers across the country have been making difficult decisions about whether or not to remain open.

One aspect of headship I accepted long ago was that you are never going to please everyone. No matter how sound and logical your decision is, there will always been plenty of people who disagree or who are unhappy with you. Snow closures are a perfect example.

Recently I waded through a range of derogatory remarks that branded teachers “lazy”, all from people who seemed to take great joy in insulting the education sector, questioning why schools have to close but the rest of the world have to make it into work. Such is the vitriolic nature of some posts that I fear for the teachers and leaders reading them who haven’t acquired the thickness of skin headship has afforded me over the years!

Schools are extremely complex organisations on the best of days and when you add extreme weather conditions into the mix, it is very difficult to ensure the safety of 1,000 teenagers and more than 100 members of staff. Most heads are reflective individuals and I know I often mull over a decision afterwards to evaluate whether I made the right call. In this instance though, you run through the potential scenarios in your mind before you make the decision.

The key in getting the decision right is to begin with the premise that whatever you decide, plenty will disagree with you. You need to be bold and brave to do what you think is the right thing. It is your responsibility to make the decision with the principle interest of the safety of your students and staff at the forefront of your thinking. No-one will thank you for opening the school when they are stranded in their car or on a bus in the middle of nowhere, in fact their fingers will be pointing at you for putting them in that situation. 

Read the full article Diary of a headteacher: Snow – a no-win situation

Was your school criticised for closing over the last period of bad weather? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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