EXTREME Weather Protocol
Extreme Weather – Definition
We will be considering this Extreme Weather Protocol when the MET office issues either an Amber or Red weather warning. As we know in recent years these have been issued for snow and ice, severe storms and Gales and extreme heat. Any of these warning will lead to consideration of this Extreme Weather Protocol and may lead to a full or partial on-site closure. In the event of any full or partial on-site closure we aim to offer a remote or home learning offer to pupils wherever possible.
Freemantles is committed, and will always make every effort, to keep the school open. We do understand that any closure or partial closure has an impact on children’s education and we do appreciate the frustration and difficulties that it causes in everyone’s busy lives for the children to be at home unexpectedly. However, the overriding factor in our decision making is the health and safety of the children, including their emotional health and well-being.
The issues we consider are:
1) The likely state of travel and transport on the roads bearing in mind:
- The snow / ice on the roads generally (transport vehicles have to go on and off main treated roads frequently) and the access road to school.
- The likelihood of trees and other obstacles either blocking or coming down in the roads.
- Problems with roads melting / cars catching fire and major queues in extreme heat
- The size of our catchment area (the largest in the county), therefore the length of the journeys that our children undertake and the impact that significant snowfall / fallen trees or extreme heat could have on these.
- The volume of traffic on the roads, and the difficulties that our children and transport staff would have (health, warmth, overheating, distressed behaviour, sustenance, mental health, etc) if they were stuck in significant delays (as we have had in the past) during weather patterns that are going to make the distress and discomfort worse. ( in extreme heat events the journey home would be at the hottest part of the day) This could affect and impact the children in the longer term with their perception of school transport.
- Transport often needs to negotiate the most difficult untreated roads to make their pick-ups, which adds to the risks faced by the children already on the bus.
- The Met Office forecast for the whole day in terms of further snowfall and the conditions worsening.
- The advice being given by the Surrey County Health and Safety Officer.
- Whether enough staff will be able to be in school for the pupils when they arrive; many staff travel a long way to work, where the weather conditions may be different, and will be impacted if their own children are not able to go to school etc.
- Red warnings by definition, at the MET office advise not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
2) The conditions around the school site.
- Mainstream children can generally be told where the dangers are during extreme weather situations and adapt to the new rules a school puts in place during these incidents. However, the issues are far more complex at Freemantles where pupils do not usually easily appreciate the new dangers that the extreme weathers event create, and frequently cannot manage to adhere to rules such as:
- o Stay on the cleared paths in snow and ice
- o Stay in the shade and drink lots of water in extreme heat, even not wearing the uniform or just the jumper can be very distressing for some pupils. etc
- o The conditions on the site during an extreme weather event are likely to lead to children behaving in a different way as a result of their anxiety rising as a result of the changes in routine – at times we have had students be able to verbalise their fears /concerns about being able to get home during big storms and heavy snowfall. Children’s behaviour has also been seen to change when we have very high temperatures in school. In order to manage these situations, we need to have the full staff team available – but as mentioned above – extreme weather events are times when staffing is also adversely impacted.
- o Staff with health conditions that may be affected by the extreme weather will need to be risk assessed and where appropriate told not to some in.
Therefore, Freemantles may need to close or partially close on site in extreme weather conditions whilst mainstream schools and in some cases other special schools can stay open.
If there are predicted extreme weather events that create Red weather warnings which are highly likely to severely affect the transport systems, it is highly likely that our risk assessments will indicate are need to be closed /partially closed to prevent any risks of significant incidents involving our students on the roads or in school.
If we decide to partially close the school due, for example to a forecast for heavy snow or extreme heat later in the day, this would mean that the school is closed to transport. However, if parents live nearby or have suitable vehicles to manage snow or with air conditioning and wish to bring their children in, they would be able to do so as long as they know that they will be responsible for collecting their children. This could occur at any time during the day if the snow / extreme heat arrives.
In order to keep you informed of the school’s position if the forecast is for extreme weather:
- Please check your mobile as we will use the school texting service (please ensure that we hold the most up to date contact details for you)
- Check the school website http://www.freemantles.surrey.sch.uk
- Check the Surrey website http://surreycc.gov.uk
UK weather warnings - Met Office