It’s inevitable isn’t it? Schools, councils and the nation in general are woefully unprepared for bad weather in the UK.  At some point we’ll have a bit of snow on the ground and every local authority running for the hills, giving us visions of impending doom, schools three feet under snow, an apocalypse.  You know, that kind of thing.  I can remember at least 5 days when my school elected to close for snow.

Kid with a snowball

It did seem a bit of an irony, though, that on two occasions I only discovered my school was shut when I got to the school gates.  That’s right, I actually walked the treacherous mile to school, on slippery and dangerous pavements and crossing icy rods, to get to the school gates to find that even after all that it was deemed too dangerous to walk a couple of times on the paths in the school grounds – ones that incredibly are normally better-kept than the pavements around my area!

The reality is that we never learn, despite the same thing happening every year.  In general, schools don’t want to take chances with kids falling over.  Read: they don’t quite have the resources to clear paths from snow and ice and ultimately they don’t want to have complaining parents.

You could put this down to a Health and Safety Culture, really.  It’s the same reason why children at my old school were banned from having snowball fights in case a stone got accidentally added into my weapon of choice.  An obsession with keeping kids safe?  Arguably, I always just accepted the risks.

Of course, I can also remember the time when the school’s heating failed one cold winter morning.  Instead of letting us wrap up warm with a jumper or something, the school decided to close.  Common sense was perhaps amiss that day, since we’d all turned up to school with an extra jacket or hoodie handy.  I can remember the school had a policy of allowing inoffensive hoodies to be worn around the school site on the rare days it was very cold, but the moment the heating failed, the same rule couldn’t be applied.  Common sense took a nose-dive that day.  Perhaps they were concerned we’d all get a chill or something from sitting in the classroom (being far warmer still than being outside, walking back home.)

With that in mind, it is actually possible for us to come up with a list of some of the different things you could do on a ‘snow day’ at school (parents: some of these are more serious than others, I promise!)…

  1. Get that long-unfinished piece of homework done – Nothing like a serious one to get started! It’s more than likely that, in the run-up to Christmas, you’ll have plenty of work to be finishing off to hand in.  I can remember during my GCSE’s having work due in just after the New Year.  This tradition has continued into my degree and even here on Erasmus.  Imagine, then , the benefit of getting all of that work done… you’ll be able to take a more relaxed approach to the Christmas holidays and spend some time with your family.  Even if we’re just talking one day, that could make all the difference in getting it finished early.
  2. Have a look at some of those exams coming up – It’s easy to think about the snow as a way of getting out there for a snowball fight.  However, as much of a bore as I will sound, this will probably not work out in the long run.
    What will work is a little bit of revision for the exams that will be upon you in January!  Get out some old notes, have a read through.
  3. If things are looking down, get online for some help – If you’re looking for some revision help or some clarity on a topic you’re not sure about, try looking for a tutor online.  If you’re a GCSE student, there are lots of GCSE tutors out there who will be more than happy to give you a hand. A Level student?  Well, there’s probably a bigger expectation for you to be independent and take charge of your learning.  Using your initiative when the weather draws in could make a big difference at the end of the year when those results are published.  Finding an A Level tutor has never been easier and will help you get prepared well.
  4. Snowball fight or tobogganing –  Yes parents, I’m calling this one.
    Sometimes the pressure of work can get to you so a nice break now and again might be the boost you need.
    I’m not saying that you should skimp on your work in any way.  However, if you’ve had a busy and stressful week, give your brain a rest and go for a cleverly-disguised meet-up at the park with a couple of your mates.  Grab some snow and get hurling, I say.  Be careful though, don’t go over the top and cause yourself an injury.  You really don’t want to be coming back into the school on a Monday morning and having to explain to your Head of Year why your arm is in a sling.  I don’t think they will be the most sympathetic person on the planet.
    (For this reason, I take no responsibility if you ignore this caution!)

When it comes down to it, schools will eventually get their acts together – schools won’t stay shut forever, even in the extreme depths of winter.  It’s likely you will only have a day or two off so make the most of the opportunity you get.

Even if it’s having a day in the snow or having a nice mug of hot tea… well, it’s better than nothing and make the most of it.

Stick the kettle on and turn up the heating!

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.