Snow Business – Isn’t it time to stop moaning?

For the last week Wolverhampton has been in the grips of a deep freeze, or Snowmageddon as it’s been called around these parts, and we along with other online sources have been updating daily on school closures, bus cancellations/alterations and gritting routes.

At times it hasn’t been made easy by the deluge of questions that have come with it, usually along the lines of  “Is X school open?” – If you were amused or frustrated by these questions. If you’re thankful for the updates or, if you (like us) thought following the comments on the updates on Wolverhampton Today’s page was better at times than Eastenders then  perhaps this guest post from local blogger, commentator and stand up comedian Dave Pitt might be for you…

Isn’t it time to stop moaning?

Weather has a strange effect on us as a nation. We are either too hot or too cold. Our ideal conditions seem to be slightly overcast with a steady South Westerly breeze. Anything out of that range has us complaining in cafes, nit-picking in pubs and sighing on social networks. However, if the weather decides to start operating at extremes then we completely flip out. Just take our roads, most people drive perfectly well but the moment a snow flake hits the road in front we behave like someone has just stolen all the tea bags. “AAARRRGGGHHHH,” you hear people shout, “I CAN’T POSSIBLY USE MY INDICATORS NOW!!!!”

In the midst of this collective insanity a few voices stand out. WV11 is one of them. They always do an excellent job but in the last few days they have excelled themselves. If you lived in or around the WV11 area then there was no better way of finding information out. Everything from school closures, public transport problems and reports on road conditions. They collated sources and presented them to try to stem the tide of our societal senselessness. A mention also has to go to the people behind the Wolverhampton Today service who did an excellent job informing members of the public about school closures, bin collections and gritting services all over Wolverhampton. Let us not forget these people aren’t being paid to do this. They do it to help, to try to make our City a nicer place…

… to try to stem the frustration.

Now let’s be honest, they are saints because their job wasn’t exactly made easy was it. For instance, let’s consider a typical Wolverhampton Today Facebook report.

Wolverhampton Today:

The following schools are closed. {List of closed schools} Please do not ask us about individual schools. We will post the information as soon as the schools confirm it with us.

First Comment From a Member of the Public:

Is {name of school} open?

You can only hope it’s because they are keen to attend the out of hours adult literacy class.

However, what follows this demonstration of a lack of basic comprehension can only be described as vicious, ill thought and very possibly libelous.

Another Member of the Public:

They should open the school. Teachers are too lazy / useless / unable to drive / unable to walk / layabout / have enough holidays already / finish at 3.15 / scum.

It’s difficult to express just how prejudice laden, ignorant and downright wrong these ideas are. The worrying thing is that it would be very easy to address these points one at a time with logic, reason and evidence. However, it would also be an exercise in futility. Looking down these Facebook threads it was possible to see people doing that very thing but it was also possible to see how those people saying it either couldn’t understand the argument or simply dismissed it in favour of their own ill-informed moaning. Maybe they have central heating so they are warm and can’t get angry enough to complain about the cold so need something else?

The author Toba Beta once wrote, “Fanatics don’t wanna see anything from other standpoints.” So for those people willing to listen let’s prove ourselves not to be fanatics by seeing things from a teacher’s standpoint.

Firstly a teacher doesn’t decide to close a school. A head teacher does. It is not very nice when you get blamed for something your boss did. Well that’s how teachers feel every-time they are blamed for schools closing.

Let us also consider that it is pretty much impossible for teachers to do every aspect of their job in the hours they are paid to work. While people might see pupils arriving at 8:40 and leaving at 3:15 that doesn’t mean the teachers do the same. Even if you see a teacher leaving school at 3:30 don’t think they are going home to put their feet up. Marking, planning and preparation all have to be done. Teachers are expected to know what level every child they look after is at and what that child is expected to achieve. Every teacher, every single teacher has to do above and beyond their hours to fit this in. But they have loads of holidays, don’t they? No they don’t. Again the holidays have to be spend planning and preparing. Do not believe for a minute that a teacher leaves in July and returns in September without having done anything. And if you think all that is easy consider the actual job of teaching. Standing in front of 30 children, some of whom don’t want to be there, most of whom are at different levels, have different interests and learn in different ways. You have to motivate, educate and do everything possible to let those children be the best they can be. It is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult jobs in the world. And do you say “thank you”? No, you blame them for a snow day. How very adult of you.

Of course that doesn’t mean it gets any easier the higher up the school ladder you get. The responsibility and worry far outweigh any monetary gain. At every step you get more work and less defined hours. Headteachers have to work almost constantly to ensure a school runs well. And the thanks they get are a bunch of so-called adults abusing their staff because they’ve closed the school. And don’t think that decision to close the school was made easily. They considered the abuse you’d give them and their staff but they also had to consider how many children are in the school, are the school grounds safe, can the children get into school, can parents get the children into school (you may have a lot of parents with buggies or some disabled parents), where the children are coming from, how many parents would just keep children at home anyway, if too many children are kept at home what can staff do instead of their planned lesson (which would have to be repeated anyway), what will losing this day mean for the curriculum, how can my staff and pupils catch up, can staff get in on time, what will teacher to pupil ratios be, can children get home on time, can parents collect children on time (remember schools are only insured for certain times of the day – late parents cause problems), what if a child has an accident on or near the school, what if a parent has an accident on or near the school, what if staff have an accident on or near the school, what dangers will the influx of parents and children bring to the surrounding areas?

Yet someone on Facebook seems to think that a teacher (not a Headteacher) says to themselves, “Great. It’s snowing, I’ll close the school and go to the pub.” How utterly disrespectful? Ironically, even though these people seem to think that teaching or running a school is so easy none of them will do it. “No,” they say, “I’m happy on the dole but I could run that school better.” Of course you could. We all believe you.

People even have the nerve to start comparing modern schools to their own childhood. “I walked to school, why can’t people do it now?” It’s a good job they aren’t 200 years old or they’d be saying, “Well I had a slave as a child. Why can’t I have a slave now.” Things change. They fail to grasp that schooling is completely different. Just a few years ago the vast majority of pupils lived in the local catchment area but remember the last Labour Government brought in the idea of parents having a “choice” of where their children go to school. This means that more children than ever are going to schools a distance away meaning there is more reliance on public transport or lifts from parents and that creates a problem when the road conditions are appalling.


Of course, those people knocking the schools haven’t got this far. This is for everyone else.

We appreciate the hard work that WV11 and Wolverhampton Today do. We can see how frustrating it must be for them to have to deal with people shouting abuse, asking dumb questions and unwilling to listen to reason. Finally we see those ignorant, prejudice laden fools and their inability to see things from another viewpoint. The initial reaction is to argue with them but arguing with the ignorant is like fighting pigs. You’ll get really muddy and the pigs will love it. So it is best to ignore them yet still they are there, peppering the feeds with inane chatter and opinions that wouldn’t look out of place in a serial killers notepad. Yet while we have the ability to either ignore or bait these people as we see fit the poor souls behind WV11 and Wolverhampton Today have to be restrained, professional and nice. The desire to block these people, report them or just abuse them must be painfully strong. They are not just heroes for what they say, they are heroes for what they don’t say.

So let’s thank WV11 and Wolverhampton Today for their hard work in keeping us informed and let’s thank the staff in schools for their hard work in educating our children and let’s prove to them that we understand that sometimes they have to close the school for bad weather. Even if we’re not sure why.

Say thank you. Go on, say it. Let’s appreciate them because without all of these people, our lives would be more difficult.

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