Plans to deal with severe weather

ANGUS Council’s education department has learned lessons from last year’s atrocious winter weather conditions and has put in place revised severe weather arrangements for this year.

Members of the council’s education committee will meet today (Wednesday) to consider a report by Neil Logue, director of education.

He states “mutual trust” between parents and schools needs to be nurtured so emergency situations can be tackled in partnership.

Generally, the arrangements for winter 2010/11 were effective with only one blanket closure in Angus on December 1; the number of days schools were closed was relatively low compared to other authorities.

He praised the “admirable resilience” of staff in their efforts to overcome the unusually adverse weather conditions, stating without the commitment of many staff who worked “extremely hard often above and beyond the call of duty”, it would have proved very difficult to keep schools open.

However, a number of issues emerged which led to a review of procedures and a range of actions have been agreed.

These include revised leaflets for staff and parents, minor changes to relevant internet pages, implementation of audio conferencing facilities for head teachers and key managers, updated priority routes for snow clearing on roads/paths, greater use of technology and improved information regarding school transport.

He added: “It is absolutely clear that a decision to close or to keep open a school will often attract equal criticism from one quarter or another.

“That was most certainly our experience last winter. In these circumstances, it is important to continue to assure staff and parents that a decision to keep open a school is always based on the best available information about manageable weather and travel conditions.

“In the case of pupils who are not entitled to school transport, the responsibility for their safe travel to and from school rests unambiguously with parents, not with head teachers or the education authority.”

The Association of Directors of Education in Scotland has also highlighted a number of areas of good practice which include consideration of the use of social networking media, availability of call centres and collaboration with neighbouring local authorities.