Schools across the town closed their doors on Tuesday (March 12) due to heavy snowfall the night before.
Nearly every school child in Eastbourne had the day off, with many schools blaming the treacherous roads being unsafe for pupils and staff. Just a few schools remained open. They included some of the town’s independent schools such as Eastbourne College, St Andrew’s in Meads and Bede’s School at the foot of the South Downs.
Head teacher of Bede’s, Nick Bevington, said, “Bede’s is still open for all of those pupils who can get in and it has been a productive day. The majority of children and staff made it in and there has been lots of learning and some playing in the snow too.”
Mr Bevington said the conditions were particularly bad on Monday afternoon and evening but said staff at Bede’s had gone the extra mile.
He said, “Staff worked late to make sure all children were cared for if they couldn’t get home straight away. Staff going the extra mile has made a real difference. I think we have shown it is perfectly possible to open in the snowy conditions and I feel we are providing an essential service, not just with education, but to parents too. Many of our parents have very responsible jobs – some in the NHS – where others are relying on them. It would not be easy for them to take a day of work if the school were to close.”
Year Two children at St Andrew’s said they enjoyed being at school because they were able to play with their friends in the snow.
A spokesperson from Eastbourne College said they had closed at 4.30pm for staff and pupils who needed to travel home but added, “Once again, despite heavy snow across the region, life at Eastbourne College went on very much as normal. The half of the school that boards and all those staff who live on the College campus were ‘at home’ in the snow. Those who live close by walked in and a high proportion of day pupils and staff who do not live very locally managed to join us.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said, “The decision on whether to close a school is made, and has to be made, by head teachers, as they are the ones best placed to take into account conditions in their area. Clearly we don’t want any child’s education to be disrupted any more than is absolutely necessary so our expectation is that schools will do all they can to remain open, but in certain circumstances they have no option but to close.
• See page 11 for what readers said about school closures .