Email alerts for school closures

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PARENTS of East Sussex pupils have been reminded they can receive email alerts if a school has to close in an emergency.

Under the system introduced by East Sussex County Council to enable headteachers to let us know if they have to close, parents can receive an automatic alert.

The alerts are part of the closure notification process which also enables information to be posted on the County Council’s website, and passed to radio stations for broadcast.

The thousands of parents who were already signed up to the system when many schools were closed due to the recent industrial action will have automatically received an email telling them of the closure.

Cllr Nick Bennett, the Council’s Lead Member for Schools and Learning Effectiveness said the intention was not to replace the important direct contact schools have with parents but to provide back up information.

He said, “We introduced this system to provide schools with a simpler way of letting us and the media know if they have to close in an emergency.

“It automatically does that but it also puts the information on our website and can send an email alert direct to parents.”

Cllr Bennett said the alerts had already proved beneficial.

“We already have more than 6,000 subscriptions for the alert system and in last winter’s bad weather it came into its own.

“Within a few minutes of a school notifying us they were having to close we were able to get that information on our website, out to the radio stations and by direct email to any parent who had signed up.”

When a school has to close, for whatever reason, every effort is made to ensure parents receive that information as quickly as possible. Cllr Bennett added, “Schools have their own arrangements in place to let parents know and will continue to operate their own systems. However, they are all now using this system as well, so parents can either visit our website or choose to receive their own email.”

The new system was introduced after concerns raised two years ago about inconsistencies in the previous system and the speed with which parents could find out.

Some parents told us they were not getting the message as clearly as they could because the system relied on head teachers phoning radio stations individually.

Cllr Bennett said, “We are very aware of the disruption a school closure can cause.

“What this system does is provide a way of getting information to parents as swiftly as possible so they have a bit more time to make other arrangements.”

For more information including how to sign up for closure alerts, visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/schoolclosurealerts