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Schools forced to close in bad weather – but who decides and why?

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 25, 2013

HELPING HAND:  Staff turned out with shovels at St White's School in Cinderford to clear the site.

HELPING HAND: Staff turned out with shovels at St White's School in Cinderford to clear the site.

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HORRENDOUS weather conditions in the county forced many schools to close this week – but who makes the decision and on what basis?

Heavy snowfall has gripped Gloucestershire since Friday, with many schools opening yesterday for the first time in a week.

Questions have been raised as to whether or not schools close too easily nowadays, but Gloucestershire county councillor Jackie Hall, cabinet member for education and skills, believes that is not the case.

She said: "There are number of factors taken into consideration. The main one is staffing. If the teachers cannot get to school then you have a problem.

"Then there is access and transport. If cars can't get there, buses aren't running, roads are blocked, then you also have a problem. Perhaps a water pipe is burst, or the heating is broken too.

"The main thing to consider is the safety of the children. Ultimately, the decision is made by the headteacher."

Gary Law, headteacher at St White's School, said: "We opened yesterday for the first time in a week. Although the teachers were in last Friday clearing the site, it did no good. They were clearing the site again yesterday and we opened.

"I like to make the decision on closing the school by 7am of a morning if I can. I look at all the factors, make a decision and then stick to that decision because people make plans."

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