This plan is written to complement and support Midlothian Council Education Services’ MNCT Policy on Severe Weather and is based on key principles, which are to:
- keep the school open whenever possible
- ensure as far as possible safe access, egress and fire evacuation
- maintain effective communications with all involved
- minimise disruption to education
Responsibilities of staff
Whilst it is the responsibility of every member of staff to make every effort to report for work, we recognise that in severe conditions this may not be possible. However, staff are expected to plan ahead, allow for extra journey times, and use alternative means of transport where available. Forward planning should include arrangements for child care and (where appropriate to the post) ensuring that there is work that can be done from home, should this be agreed.
Keeping the school open
Any decision to close the school to all/some pupils will be taken by the Headteacher in consultation with Midlothian Council and will take into account a range of factors, including:
- health and safety (toilet facilities, heating, safe access, etc)
- ability to adequately supervise pupils
- ability to continue learning and teaching
- provision of school meals
- road conditions, transport provision, and weather forecasts
If there is to be a partial closure of the school, priority will be given to retaining examination-stage pupils (i.e. S4-S6) in school, with an emergency timetable being put in place if required.
At all times SLT and Facility Management will conduct visible Risk Assessments and take into account weather intelligence from HQ and Emergency Services.
The school will maintain adequate supplies of salt and grit and appropriate equipment for spreading it, and facilities staff will have appropriate protective clothing provided. In gritting/clearing snow and/or ice, priority will be given to the following areas:
- the pathway from the disabled parking bay at the front of the school to front entrance
- a pathway from reception to the start of the car-park
- all fire exits
- fire evacuation routes (keeping clear of potential icicle/snow falls)
- further pathways as circumstances allow
If the outside areas are deemed unsafe, it may be necessary to keep pupils inside during morning breaks and at lunchtimes (for those who remain in school).
If the main fire assembly point is considered unsafe, the fire assembly point will be switched to the pitches, or further away from building – pupils and staff assembling in the same way as usual. Pathways would need to be clear.
Minimising disruption to education
Where the school is open and pupils are able to get to school, but there are some staff shortages, disruption to education will be minimised through combining classes (within SNCT/MNCT guidance), rationalising in-class support, and implementing emergency timetables.
Where a partial closure is necessary, priority for teaching in school will be given to pupils in S4-6.
Pupils at all stages who are not at school will be encouraged to access school work through Glow, Edmodo, the school website, and a range of revision and subject-specific websites. Some teachers have set up specific, private networking groups for communicating with pupils about their school-work e.g. Edmodo and Didbook.
Following prolonged or multiple closures, temporary changes may be made to timetables to provide
“catch-up” time, and there may be additional supported study sessions.
Communication with parents/carers
Parents/carers will be given information about school closures and any special arrangements as soon as possible after such a decision is taken. We will use the following means of communication:
- SEEMIS texting (Group Call)
- School website
- Midlothian Council website
- LHS APP
- Local radio
- Individual telephone calls as required in respect of vulnerable pupils
At least 2 people will be able to use any one of the above means of communication. It will normally be the Headteacher who authorises messages and who contacts Midlothian Council
Communication with staff
As a staff, we have agreed to share telephone numbers so that communications can be routed through line managers. Line managers, in turn, will communicate with members of the SLT and vice versa.
Within larger departments/groups of staff, arrangements could be made for a “telephone tree”, to reduce the number of people who are communicating with each other. Managers will submit details of these arrangements to their link SLT member. No member of staff is compelled to be a part of the call tree system.
These arrangements will ensure that no single person is receiving/making multiple calls, that the school office lines are kept relatively free, and that communications can be shared quickly. Staff will also be able to access all the bullet-points above for parents/carers. It is important to keep your mobile phone numbers updated.
Communication with Education Services
All members of the SLT have a copy of the emergency contact numbers issued by Education Services and our contact details have been shared with the school group manager. The Headteacher will normally liaise with Education Services, although DHTs may deputise.