Snow 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.
This 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.