Debate of the week: Should the snow shut our schools?

January 11th, 2010 by Emily

This past week has seen the UK come to a standstill following the heaviest snowfall seen in this country for years. With the Arctic weather showing no signs of halting, the snow has blocked roads and businesses across the country - and, most notable of all, schools and colleges everywhere.

Whilst the concept of a "snow day" is sure to delight most school pupils, can it really be right that the snow shuts our schools? After all, one isolated day here and there might be troublesome, but not enough to make a huge difference. Yet many pupils have had most of last week off, and with the snow showing no sign of melting, it looks as though there may be more time off school to come.

The truth is that our inability to cope with the weather is having severe consequences on our young peoples' education. A report on the ITV lunchtime news featured a sixth-form college in Bolton, where pupils were facing the prospect of missing out on taking their A-level resits because of the snowfall. It seems as though they may have to wait another six months, despite having put in plenty of exam revision throughout the Christmas break. Are we really that hamstrung by the weather that pupils have to miss out on the most important exams of their school lives?

Just under half of England's schools are still shut. Exams or otherwise, keeping schools closed for days at a time will have a detrimental effect on pupils' education. The government certainly thinks so; it has issued a statement saying that "schools should stay open wherever reasonably practicable during severe weather conditions, subject to safety considerations." It seems some schools, at least, have taken notice, including one school in St. Albans that opened for exams today with the help of a local rugby club.

Schools should be helped to stay open by their local authorities, and the way to school made easy for pupils with regular gritting of the roads and so on. We cannot let the snow disrupt something as important as a good education.

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