Monday, January 21, 2013

Service above self

Sam Foster is a nursery nurse at my daughter's nursery in southeast London. I doubt she earns very much and she has a son at university to support but like everyone else who works there she has a wonderful attitude towards her job.

Take this morning. It snowed a bit over the weekend. Not as much as in some parts of the country but enough to make the roads a bit skiddy and to bugger up the trains. For some people this was a green light to bunk off (sorry, work from home), while others had to make an extra effort.

In my wife's case, this involved getting me out of bed at 5am so I could drive her to a Tube station because her train wasn't running. But this isn't about my sacrifice. Anyway, I quite like driving on icy roads. It adds challenge.

Sam usually takes a train to the nursery but they were not running. Most people would have cried off at this point, but Sam pulled on her wellies and decided to walk in. It took her two and a half hours. One of her colleagues gave her a lift home tonight and measured the distance: seven miles.

Sam was not the only hero. Every member of staff was at the nursery by 7.30am. It helped that the council had done their job, even if the train companies hadn't, and cleared the roads but that is still a fine effort. As a result, no parent had to take the day off - and with most children at the nursery having two working parents that is not only a relief for them but a saving for the economy.

Yet when I arrived this morning I found that the nursery owner's six-year-old daughter was also there because the head teacher of her primary school had decided to close on account of the snow, in common with a few other primaries in Lewisham borough.

Almost 5,000 schools across the country were closed today and I'm sure that in many rural areas this was a necessity, but the snow was not so bad in cities that this had to be an option. It certainly wasn't in London. If the staff at a private nursery school can travel seven miles to ensure that their children are looked after and educated, why do our state schools close the gates so easily?

1 comment:

Brian Carpenter said...

I suspect it's something vaguely to do with fear of litigation if a child gets hurt by a snowball or falling over in an icy playground.

I grew up in London in the seventies and early eighties. Bad snow wasn't common but it did occur - early '79, December '81, for example - and none of my schools ever closed. The idea of a day off because it had snowed would never have occurred to us - we were too busy having huge snowball fights, blocking the doors of the school with massive blocks of ice and snow and falling over in playgrounds that were icier than an Olympic rink. Oh and in my case, listening to Kapil Dev and Madan Lal go through England on TMS.

Harrumph. The kids of today...or maybe it's the teachers?