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Cold weather advice for schools

• Before severe weather occurs; sign your school up to the Met Office email alerts service

• Check your PIN number for the emergency school closures system 

• Update your entries on the Schools Emergency Contact and Keyholder Database; login to My School, select 'Staff' then 'Emergency Contacts and Keyholders'

• Ensure boilers and heating systems are maintained regularly, ensure pipes are appropriately lagged

• Inspect windows and exterior doors for draughts; draught-proof as needed

• Risk assess the site and give specific instructions to staff or relevant people, based on this

• Identify outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, for example: building entrances, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas, areas lying in shade, or wet areas

• Identify which areas of the school site need to be kept clear of snow and ice and ensure that school staff or volunteers will assist with salting/gritting, or otherwise keeping the relevant parts of the site clear. They should know what actions to take - including undertaking these tasks safely

• Acquire protective clothing, shovels, for those clearing snow/ice. Ensure salt/sand/grit stocks are plentiful and order more if needed

• Set up your arrangements for communicating directly with parents as well as the wider community, if closure seems a real possibility. Confirm contacts for staff, parents, Norfolk County Council transport contact details

• Ensure all the information needed in advance is ready, including contacts (name, telephone numbers) for those who will collect children if parents are not available

• Estimate who among your staff will be able to get to site safely for the beginning of the day and how you will be able to manage the school in these circumstances

• Ensure the school has an incident management team for severe weather- amend your Business Continuity plan, (which enables you to identify and keep your activities running), as necessary.

When severe weather is forecast:

• Check the local forecast, as prevention is key. Act whenever freezing temperatures are forecast. Keep up to date by visiting your weather service website or Met Office website

• Put a procedure in place to prevent icy surfaces forming and/or keep people off slippery surfaces.

• Remind staff of the school’s plans and expectation that the school would usually remain open

• Ensure that someone can get to the school site to answer the telephone and inform parents who are unaware of any closure

• Ensure that staff/parents are reminded of the process for receiving information about school opening hours and the general arrangements for severe weather

• Consider leaving heating on a low setting overnight. Where curtains or blinds are fitted these should be closed at night to retain heat. Doors between areas of differing temperatures should be kept closed as much as possible. Radiators should be kept clear of obstructions to enable a proper circulation of warmed air

• Using grit, or similar, on areas prone to be slippery in frosty/icy conditions. Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the ground temperatures are at or below, freezing. The best time is early evening before frost settles. If this is not possible, (or additional salt is required) use it early in the morning before people arrive. NB Salt doesn't work instantly; it needs enough time to dissolve into the moisture on the ground. Please remember, if you grit when it is raining heavily the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow.

On the day(s) of severe weather

Make the decision to stay open, open for limited hours, or close etc. as early as possible. Log in to the emergency school closures system to notify as needed. Media will access this system directly.

Notify parents, pupils and staff by text, phone, email, as previously agreed

Undertake ongoing risk assessments as appropriate, during the incident. Log specific actions taken.

Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off hazardous ones. If warning cones are used, remember to remove these once the hazard has passed, or they will become ignored

Ensure that you comply with health and safety legislation.


• Review your Business Continuity plan – to enable your service delivery to continue - and revise for the next year. Email NCC Resilience Team via; call 01603 222016 for advice, if needed

• Update arrangements for calling together your incident management team in the light of any staff changes. Note any lessons identified from the recent incident and amend your plans as needed.

Useful Websites & Links

Norfolk Schools website - Emergencies pages and Emergency school closures

• My School- Schools Emergency Contact and Keyholder Database

Infospace (NB to access this site you will need to have purchased a Health, Safety and Wellbeing service via Educator Solutions.)

Met Office website and the Met Office email alert service

Exam System Contingency plan

'Easy read' Cold Weather Plan for England

• WeatherReady news items at Met Office