Ice, snow and school closures

The City Council’s Lib Dem / SNP Administration shows a remarkable enthusiasm for school closures. When it is not closing them permanently (7 primary schools shut in 2009 and 2010 and more nurseries to follow, it seems) then it is taking the unprecedented move to shut all schools because of the weather this week.

As a working parent whose daughter attends a local primary school I understand the pressures parents face in making arrangements day to day. As a councillor I know the responsibility the City Council has to staff and pupils. Speaking to other parents earlier in the week I detected some sympathy with the need to close schools On Monday but by Wednesday questions were emerging, with some schools open and other neighbouring ones still shut.

Speaking to the chair of the Parent Council at my daughter’s school I found that most, if not all, parents are in the dark as to the decision-making process and this is shared by parents across the city.

Are closures, for example:

The result of distances pupils have to get to school – ths would be ironic given that increased travel distances is a direct consequence of closing some schools permanently?
Is it to do with staff not being able to get to school?
Is it the delivery of school meals or other services?
What is the discretion given to Head Teachers versus what is decided centrally?
And how good are the systems in getting information to parents? How well are school websites used? How many schools have Parentmail and text alerts?

I am not saying that temporary closures are wrong; just that, until we get clarity of information the whole process remains fraught.

Meantime, at least today (Thursday) my own school is open again, while two-thirds of the city’s primaries remain shut.

Alison is the Green councillor for Meadows/Morningside, and top Holyrood candidate for the Lothians.