Adverse weather conditions should not prevent primary and secondary teachers from educating the country's children unless necessary, the education secretary has asserted.
On Monday, 21st January, more than 5,000 schools closed across the UK as a result of heavy snowfall, including around 800 in East Anglia, 600 in West Yorkshire and 500 in the West Midlands, with tens of thousands of pupils affected.
Head teachers make the final decision on whether to close schools in bad weather, with parents being kept informed through websites and social networks, although some parents have complained about late decisions on and poor communication over closures.
Speaking in the House of Commons, education secretary Michael Gove highlighted changes made by the government to ensure schools were not penalised for staying open in such conditions if individual pupils could not make it in on that day.
Mr Gove stated: "I hope as a result that more and more schools will recognise that while the decision on whether or not to remain open or closed is a matter for the head teacher, everything can and should be done in order to ensure that all children get access to a good education."
Yet Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Brian Lightman insisted that while heads did not take the decision to close their schools lightly, they had to consider the safety of their pupils above all else.
He explained that while many pupils may live close enough to get into school without difficulty, this was not necessarily the case for those in teaching jobs and that head teachers had to therefore consider whether they could provide adequate supervision.
Meanwhile David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said that councils were working to ensure schools remained open wherever possible, including making key routes to large schools a gritting priority.
Mr Simmonds also stressed that it was a key priority for decisions on closures to be made early and for parents to be kept informed through a range of media, so that they could make their travel arrangements accordingly.
Posted by Harriet McGowan