Homeschooling Harry: Snow days

SAM_0165Snow was responsible for me first questioning Harry’s school. A couple of years ago, we had very heavy snow. David was stuck in Paris with work (the poor love) and I was stuck at home with Harry and Joe.

One morning, when we got to school, I didn’t think it was at all safe. Children and parents were sliding and falling on the path up to the main door and I asked the Head whether she was sure school should be open. She said, condescendingly, “You can’t wrap them up in cotton wool, Mrs Stainton.”

I left Harry there, but when I got home I phoned the LEA to ask if I felt the school was unsafe, could I keep Harry home. They told me no – the school’s decision was final and that if the school was open and I kept Harry home, that would represent an unauthorised absence. It horrified me that I had to abide by the school’s decision against my own instincts, not least because the Head later complained about how the weather affected the school’s attendance figures (isn’t the children’s welfare more important than attendance figures?) and a child died from falling on an icy path on the approach to another local school.

Yes, I know some of you will be rolling your eyes and thinking ‘health and safety gone mad’, but that’s not really my point. We all have different ideas of what is safe for our children, I know. (Just yesterday on Facebook I saw one friend complaining that because school was open she had to drive on icy roads she considered unsafe while another friend was complaining that her children wouldn’t be allowed out to play in the snow because the school considered it unsafe.) What bothered me was that I wasn’t allowed to make that decision myself, that the school could override me.

SAM_0168This year it’s been such a relief to look out of the window and know that we don’t have to go anywhere if we don’t want to… but we have been to the park a couple of times, mainly because Joe insists and that kid doesn’t take no for an answer.


6 thoughts on “Homeschooling Harry: Snow days

  1. Have to say that I always went with my instincts. And never asked the schools what they advised – didn’t even occur to me that I should. LEA be blowed, it’s not their children. You are SO doing the right thing! (And I hate sentences like the last one I just typed…) 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you. I only rang the LEA because I wanted to know where I stood, if I could be prosecuted for unauthorised absence, if I could tell the Head where to go…

  2. I so agree Keris! And back in the dark days pre-family when I worked in classrooms I remember thinking that the kids shouldn’t be there on snowy days anyway, they should be out playing! It was such a treat for us too as we home educated our own kids to fit our learning to the seasons…besides, what better way to learn about the planet and our need to look after it than that!

    1. Yes, I read somewhere about a teacher shutting the curtains on a snowy day because the kids weren’t concentrating. I thought it was a bit far-fetched, but then a teacher friend told me she’d witnesses something v similar. Such a shame!

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