Schools to close over ‘extreme’ heatwave
A number of schools have said they will close to protect pupils’ health and safety.
Schools are considering closures on Monday and Tuesday next week after the Met Office issued a “red” weather warning over expected record-breaking temperatures.
Alan Roe, headteacher of Dr Challoner’s High School in Buckinghamshire, wrote to parents on Friday to say that “due to the worsening weather forecast and the red weather alert (which was amber this morning), we have decided to close the school on Monday and Tuesday on health and safety grounds”.
He added that the school would open as planned on Wednesday morning and would close for the year at midday.
“Many of our classrooms are very uncomfortable when the temperatures are in the mid-20s,” Mr Roe said.
He added that with temperatures forecast to be up to 40 degrees Celsius on Monday and Tuesday, “we cannot keep the temperature in many of our rooms to an acceptable and safe level”, adding this decision had been taken in conjunction with several other local schools.
Teachers would set cover work and activities for Monday and Tuesday, he said, but there would be no livestreamed lessons.
“This approach means that students can do work when it suits them and perhaps when it is a bit cooler, and staff are not having to work when it is exceptionally hot.”
The Costello School in Hampshire has written to parents to state that after “the extreme temperatures forecast for Monday and Tuesday next week we have taken the difficult decision to close the school on these days”.
Altwood Church of England School in Maidenhead announced that it would be closing on Monday and Tuesday because of the “extreme heat”, as did Three Rivers Academy in Surrey.
Kemnal Technology College in Bromley, London, wrote to parents to say that under guidance from its trust and the Department for Education, “we have taken the unprecedented decision to close the school and ask students and staff to work remotely”.
“We apologise for the late notice but we have been constantly monitoring the weather over the past few days and we believe that this is in the best interests of the school community,” the letter from headteacher Emma Wride and executive headteacher Stuart Smith adds.
Ms Wride and Mr Smith noted that this was a “last minute decision” which could cause “undue stress” for parents unable to arrange childcare, and so a skeleton staff would keep the school open for parents with no alternative.
They said work would be set remotely via Google Classrooms, with pupils expected to follow their timetable.
Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin’s Primary School in Herefordshire will give parents the option to choose whether their children go in at all on Monday, July 18.
The NEU teaching union issued a statement saying it would “support headteachers making professional decisions to cope with the red warning, including in some circumstances to close or partially close schools”.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There is clear Government guidance available online to help school staff look after children in the hot weather, including the use of ventilation, keeping children hydrated and avoiding vigorous physical activity for pupils.
“Individual school leaders are responsible for managing their own local circumstances, but we are not advising schools to close.”