Parents urged to sign up for alerts

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PARENTS in East Sussex are being encouraged to sign up to a system that will automatically alert them if their school has to close in an emergency.

With forecasts for bad weather and a possible repeat of last year’s freezing temperatures, heavy snow and ice, the county council wants as many parents as possible to sign up for the warnings.

Two years ago the council provided schools with a new secure online system giving them a faster and far more efficient way of letting people know if they have no option but to close the school.

The system head teachers use notifies the county council at Lewes, automatically alerts local radio stations including BBC Sussex and Heart FM, and updates the council’s website – all within minutes.

It also sends an email to any parent who has signed up for closure alerts relating to their school. The alert system already has more than 6,000 subscriptions.

Councillor David Elkin, the council’s Lead Member Children’s and Adults’ Services, said, “Schools in East Sussex will only close if they absolutely have to. We know how inconvenient it can be for parents if a school has to close and, of course, we don’t want their children’s education disrupted any more than is absolutely necessary.

“Head teachers make every effort to stay open but in some circumstances it is impossible. Schools have their own mechanisms for contacting parents, but this system makes it easy for them to get the message out quickly to those who need to know.”

If there is any sort of repeat of last year’s bad weather the council says parents can confidently rely on its website as a definitive guide on which schools have had to close as it will be automatically and regularly updated with closure information.

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

Under the system, a head teacher enters the details on to a secure special page on the council’s website. This then sends the information to everyone who needs to know as well as updating a closure list on the website itself. It also emails local radio stations so they can broadcast the information.

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