How Technology Can Reduce the Impact of School Snow ClosuresPosted by Robin Ball on December 21, 2010
The current Government advice on severe weather calls for headteachers to use common sense in deciding whether to remain open or to close the school gates. The advice goes on to suggest that if the school remains open then headteachers shouldn’t worry about recording adverse attendance statistics (code Y) as long as they believe any absence is genuine.
The advice seems to signal a greater concern over attendance statistics than with continuity of learning and teaching. So what could happen when a school closes for reasons of adverse weather? Well, the effective use of ICT to support learning, teaching and management springs to mind.
Previous guidance for school closure, although in case of pandemic, nevertheless carried a complete annex devoted to use of technology to support continuity of learning. In this it cited that:
Technology can pay a vital role in:
- maintaining communications between home and school and keeping the community informed through email, the school website, SMS messaging or, where available, the learning platform
- providing learners with access to learning materials and support through the school’s learning platform or website, where these exist.
In February 2009 Twynham School was forced to close due to heavy snowfall. Whilst closed 94% of staff and 86% of learners used the learning platform to login.
(It must be noted this guidance came from the previous Government and may not reflect current Government policy.)
It’s interesting to note that the illustrated example of a school closure was caused by snow and not by illness. In Scotland where they have been hit hard with adverse weather conditions the Guardian recently carried the headline, ‘Scotland combats school closures by offering lessons online’ while in the North East the Northern Echo carried the story of ‘Stranded students log on from home via web’. Both articles carried the same message, that using technology to remotely connect teachers and learners has a positive impact on maintaining continuity of learning.
Those schools that used their learning platforms (VLEs) to provide online lessons had planned for this kind of eventuality by ensuring that there was a bank of lessons, fully supported by online resources with relevant digital content, that could be deployed at a moment’s notice.
So how did your school fare over the last few weeks? Why not share your stories of how you or your students coped with the weather? How about offering some advice and guidance based on your experiences? We’d love to hear back from you.