Thousands of children had an extended weekend yesterday, when scores of schools closed on health and safety grounds and because of teachers struggling to get to work – causing a childcare headache for working parents.
Sheffield’s first serious snow of the winter threw the city’s education system into chaos, with 76 out of 172 schools shut and many others opening late.
Primary schools, many on snow-clogged side roads, were the worst affected with around 60 closures.
A further 26 opened late at 10am or 10.30am, to give staff and pupils more time to get in.
But at the city’s remotest rural primary, Bradfield Dungworth close to the Derbyshire border, lessons went ahead as usual.
Headteacher Rachel Markham said enough staff lived locally for the school to open for children who had trudged in from local farms and villages.
“I live just three quarters of a mile away, and three of the staff live nearby, so we are able to open for those pupils who are able to make it in,” she said.
“Today we had 23 children in out of the 115 on roll, plus eight members of staff out of 20.
“Deciding whether to close a school is a difficult thing to do – some parents are upset if you close, while others aren’t happy if you don’t!
“Some of our children are never going to get in because they come from very outlying areas, but we have an advantage over urban schools because many of our staff live fairly close by.
“At other schools they are often travelling in from miles around.
“Most of our parents are happy we’re open – though I’m not sure that’s true of all the children!” Rachel added.
Blackburn Primary School in Rotherham was also among those making a real effort to stay open.
Its website was updated regularly for parents and, despite the boiler going on the blink, the school was open by 10.30am.
But across Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster around 225 schools were closed – almost half the county’s total.
In Sheffield children’s centres were affected, with Broomhall, Shooters Grove in Stannington, Wybourn and Primrose in Upperthorpe all closing their doors.
Most of the city’s special schools shut, including Bents Green, Holgate Meadows, Mossbrook, Norfolk Park, Seven Hills, Talbot and Woolley Wood, and all school transport for special-needs pupils was cancelled. Bus services serving schools including Notre Dame, Bradfield and All Saints were also badly affected.
City secondaries were less badly hit, though 10 still closed for the day – All Saints RC, Bradfield, Fir Vale, High Storrs, King Edward VII in Broomhill, King Ecgbert in Totley, Newfield, Notre Dame RC, Silverdale, Springs Academy and Stocksbridge.
A further 10 delayed opening – two as late as 11.15am, King Ecgbert and Ecclesfield, while Chaucer and several other schools sent pupils home early.
Meanwhile, household waste collections were suspended, and mobile librariees were taken off the roads in Rotherham.
Stocksbridge Leisure Centre closed because of the risk of customers slipping in the car park.