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Global schools - the impact of weather

Have you ever wondered what your school would be like if it was in a different country? Would you gain some holiday, face different challenges or miss the perks and quirks of your own country?

Firefly has the privilege of working with schools across the world, which has shown us some interesting ways that location influences school life.

Here’s the first of our three-part series looking at these cultural and geographic differences and the ways schools respond to their country’s unique circumstances.

Rain, snow, sun or pollution?

The weather always seems to create problems for schools, but for different reasons in different countries. For schools in Singapore, Hong Kong and China, haze, humidity and pollution are the problems. Schools have to keep track of PSI - the Pollution Standards Index - to judge whether or not it is medically safe for students to be in school. If levels of pollution rise too high, teachers will have to put their ‘haze plan’ into action. This might mean cancelling physical education, keeping students indoors, rearranging trips and events and, in the worst case scenario, closing the school.

In Thailand, it’s the sun that’s the problem. Schools there will have a ‘sun safe policy’, that limits outdoor or physical activities if things get too hot. Schools in the UK have problems at the other end of the temperature spectrum. A few inches of snow might mean school is cancelled for the day, sparking a flood of Instagram and Facebook posts tagged #snowday (by the students only of course!), whilst in Russia and Eastern Europe, schools will open in several feet of snow and it’s normal to see parents dragging their children to school on sledges!

British teachers are, however, known for their stoic endurance of the rain, which can spell disaster in other areas of the world. Big storms in Abu Dhabi and the UAE are likely to mean a centralised government decision to close all schools and in Hong Kong many schools have typhoon and heavy rain procedures to limit damage caused by torrential downpours.

It’s always a challenge to respond quickly to the weather: parents need to be informed about school closure and teachers need a way to make up for lost lesson time. Schools and even governments have taken to the internet to make that easier. The Abu Dhabi government tweeted about the latest rain-induced school closure and many schools announce closure on their websites. Teachers at Firefly schools often create lessons on Firefly when, or even in advance of their school being forced to close. That way, students can keep learning even if they’re not in the school building.

As we work with more and more schools in different countries, we love finding out about how school life differs and is changing across the world. Let us know what’s unique in your country or where in the world you would love to teach.

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