Amber warnings for extreme heat have been issued to most of England and Wales between Sunday, July 17 and Tuesday, July 19, with rare red warnings for heat issued for parts of the country on Monday and Tuesday. Scorching temperatures between 30C and 40C are expected in some parts of the country, forcing schools to take extra measures to keep staff and pupils safe. Several schools in the UK have already revealed their plans to shut in response to the “exceptionally” hot weather forecast by the Met Office, with more expected to follow suit as the heatwave continues. Here’s the latest list of schools which will close early next week.
The Winston Churchill School in Woking, Surrey, has taken the decision to keep all staff and students at home on Monday and Tuesday next week.
In a letter to parents and carers, the head teacher said: “The forecast for the weekend and then into Monday and Tuesday of next week will go beyond what we can manage in school and will place the health and wellbeing of students at risk; especially on the walk home.”
School hours are expected to resume as normal on Wednesday, July 20, though the plans may be reviewed should the weather forecast “change dramatically”.
Three primary schools and one secondary school in Herefordshire have already announced plans to send pupils home earlier than usual on Monday and Tuesday.
Parents have been told students “will not be allowed outside to play” in the extreme heat, with a temporary ban on PE lessons also in place during the hottest parts of the day.
Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin’s Primary School are among four schools in the area to announce their plans and will give parents the option to choose whether their children go in at all on Monday, July 18.
The British capital will also see schools close early on the first few days of the week.
Clapton Girls’ Academy will close early at 12.30pm on Monday and Tuesday.
Anna Feltham, headteacher at the East-London-based school said: “Already, many classrooms are very hot, even with fans, and students are struggling to keep cool, drink enough water and maintain concentration in lessons.”
What extra measures are schools taking?
While not all schools will close, it is expected every primary, secondary and sixth form will take extra steps to help staff and pupils cope with the heat.
Rosedale Primary School in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, has announced while the school will remain open, PE lessons will be cancelled to avoid the heat.
Some classes will also be moved to cooler areas of the school and kids will be kept instead during the lunchtime break.
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St John’s CE Middle School Academy in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire has taken a different approach to the heat, by removing uniform requirements.
In a tweet to staff and parents, the school wrote: “On Monday and Tuesday ONLY children can come to school wearing non-uniform to enable children to wear loose, light coloured clothing that will help keep them as cool as possible. Appropriate clothing must be worn in school for example no crop tops or very short shorts.”
It added ice pops would be on sale to children for 50p, with proceeds going to Cancer Research, while children would be “encouraged not to run” during breaktime to prevent heat exhaustion.
St Matthias CE Primary School in Worcestershire has cancelled sports day plans for this week to help staff and pupils avoid the heat.
Richmond Primary School in Hinckley, Leicestershire is yet another school which has been forced to cancel sports days which had been scheduled for next week.
What is the official advice for schools?
In the latest update to education providers, the Department for Education (DfE) underlined the Government’s heatwave plan guidance for teachers and other professionals in education and early years settings.
The DfE said: “We aren’t advising schools to close during high temperatures, but school leaders should make sure they take any steps necessary to make sure children are safe and comfortable.”
In their official gov.uk guidance, the DfE explained that children are unable to control their body temperature as efficiently as adults during hot weather because they do not sweat as much, putting them at risk of side effects including dehydration, heat stress and exhaustion, and heatstroke.
To cope with the heatwave, school staff have been advised to follow “a raft of measures” such as:
- Encouraging children to wear “loose, light-coloured clothing” and “sunhats with wide brims” to school
- Open windows as early as possible in the morning before children arrive, or overnight to allow stored heat to escape the building
- Keeping the use of electric light to a minimum and switching off electric equipment, such as computers, when not in use
- Using oscillating mechanical fans when temperatures are below 35C, but not above as this may not prevent heat-related illness and could worsen dehydration