Mid Autumn/Winter brings with it; darker nights, falling leaves, changing weather, frost and snow.

These conditions pose an added risk as we go about our daily lives and I am using the blog this week set out 5 simple ideas to help pupils reduce the risks and to stay safe.

  1. Set off earlier – the journey to school takes a little bit longer so aim to catch the earlier bus or leave 5 minutes earlier to ensure you are at school on time
  2. Think about what you are wearing – in particular something which can be seen, which keeps you warm/dry and wear suitable footwear
  3. Stopping distances – in darker mornings and evenings drivers do not always spot someone until a little later and when they do put on the brakes their car/van/lorry takes a bit longer until it stops.  So do not rush out in front of moving traffic.
  4. Think about others – particularly once the snow comes.  Throwing snowballs at cars/buses etc is never a good idea, it can cause the driver to panic.  Throwing them into crowds or at people on busy pavements is also really dangerous as once it leaves your hand there is no accounting for who it will hit or where.  Last year we had a couple of instances where people had to be taken to hospital with eye injuries as a result of being hit unintentionally.
  5. Inside is not outside – As you enter the building the floors can be wet and slippy so do not run around once you are in the building.  Remember also to take the outdoor jackets off, as part of keeping everyone safe we ask visitors to wear an ID badge and we ask pupils to be showing their uniform in school.  There was a time when parts of the school were cold but we have had our heating system upgraded and are in the process of getting the the old windows replaced.

I felt it was especially important to raise the safety issue as we had a report after school on Thursday of a youngster being knocked down by a car at Holburn Junction.  Fortunately it was a relatively minor incident with no injuries or damage  but a reminder of the need to stay safe.

I also need to mention a little bit more about the work on the windows.  This is progressing well and most of the East (Holburn Junction) side is complete.   Work is moving to the west (Queens Cross) side and this is likely to mean that one of our stairwells will be out of use for almost a week.  Pupils will be advised of alternative routes to move around school and to exit the school in the event of a fire alarm.

The shorter school day is a significant help in terms of getting this work done but given the incident at Holburn Junction I am going to have another look at the arrangements and go back to a 3.15 finish to help our Garthdee pupils who can then get their bus at the front of the school rather than at the Junction.  If we do this we might move to an 8.45 start and retain the shorter lunchtime.  I will be meeting with the contractors and speaking with my colleagues on Monday to consider all of the risks and agreeing what we can do to keep people as safe as possible.

On the safety message it is also worth mentioning two other important things:

Safe Drive – this is an initiative to help reduce fatal and life changing accidents involving young people on NE roads.  I am very keen that we get our senior pupils to Safe Drive as we have experience of fatal accidents involveing Harlaw pupils in the past and it is also something I have experienced several times at my previous school, Westhill.

Anti-bullying – this was anti-bullying week but I would hope that every day was an anti-bullying day.  Only last week I read about the suicide of a former pupil at previous school.  Now in his late 20s this young man had become depressed after being subjected to homophobic bullying.  It was one of the most heart breaking stories I have read and a reminder of the immense harm caused by bullying.  We are a rights respecting school and we promote respect for people.  I urge us all to ‘call out’ bullying when we witness it as it is often impossible for the victim to report it.  I also ask victims to seek support from anyone they can, you are not alone and you deserve our support.

I know from very personal experience that these two issues can have ‘life or death’ consequences.  Stay safe and think on the impact you have positively or negatively on the lives of others.  Respect people and Respect community.