I write the day after having decided to close the school owing to the weather for the first time since I became a head. In the past I have refused to bow to pressure to close during a heatwave and a snowstorm. The decisions have not been straightforward.

It is unusual for urban schools to be completely snowed in, and this morning, as I looked out of the window, I began to wonder if I had done the right thing – not least because the Met Office forecast continued to insist that it was snowing heavily in Oxford while the only flakes falling were ones blowing off the trees. It took until early afternoon for the promised blizzard to return, and I was glad we were not having to send pupils and colleagues home early on a transport network which would be running intermittently, if at all.

What is it about snow in this country? However much or little falls, we never seem to get the hang of it. While the school sat empty, I was giving a telephone reference for a former colleague to a school in Geneva. We were supposed to have spoken the day before, but the HR manager had been delayed by a snowstorm. There was 30cm of snow in Geneva – but the real problem, she said, was the ice underneath. Still, the school had not closed, although most children and half of the staff had not made it in until around 10am.

Meanwhile in Oxford, where the snow was perhaps 5cm deep, all trains going north on the Cotswold line were cancelled, and our bus company had been worried about the safety of dropping children in outlying villages.

There were only seven days in 2017 which saw any snow at all in Oxford, with a total of 5cm falling during all those days in total. (This makes Oxford one of the least snowy places in the country – the Cairngorms can expect an average of 60cm a year.) There was only one weekday in 2017 which was badly affected, and MCS managed to stay open regardless – mainly because our grounds team was willing to come in on a Sunday and prepare the site for everyone’s safe arrival on Monday morning.

By contrast with Oxford, Copenhagen saw 28 days of snow last year, so closing every time it snows just isn’t an option there. A Danish friend says that she never had a single day off because of the weather when she was at school – and her abiding memory is of dreading being pelted with snowballs by bigger boys.

Which brings us to the question of what to do when school is closed? MCS sets snow work which can be downloaded from home, so that all pupils can get on with something for every lesson missed.

This was not the approach recommended by Shaun Fenton, head of Reigate Grammar, who created first a twitterstorm then headlines last week by suggesting that parents and pupils should go out together in the snow and create “special memories” during our all-too-rare snow days.

Some readers applauded this and suggested he should be Education Secretary; others wanted to know if he would offer a daily refund to parents for the sledging day. Many working parents get cross about school snow days, and I can see why. To those parents, what Fenton said might have felt like a bit of an insult. He was making a virtue out of a necessity: he shut his school because he judged that to open it was not safe, and not so that pupils could doss about on the South Downs. And if pupils are not in school, it would be good if they got some fresh air and had some fun.

The difficulty of course is that most parents have to go to work, and most employers are not in loco parentis, as schools are. (Also most workplaces don’t have 900+ employees wanting to go out at lunchtime and throw snowballs at each other, but perhaps I am wrong about that...)

Back in Oxford, during the afternoon I took the dog out for a walk in an eerily empty South Parks. I hope it was the bitter wind keeping the children of Oxford away – certainly my local recreation ground sounded rather busier. I did not enjoy closing MCS for the day, and hope I never have to do so again. And I hope that everyone managed to enjoy at least something about the snowy break from the usual regime.