Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thousands of schools remain shut

School closed
Icy conditions around a school can cause a school to close

Heavy snow has extended the holidays of hundreds of thousands of pupils as head teachers kept their doors closed.

About 9,000 schools were shut across England on Wednesday, with 950 closing today in Wales, and at least 250 in Scotland and 16 in Northern Ireland.

As the band of snow moved south, thousands more schools in south and east England told pupils to stay home.

Many schools closed because of staff travel problems and icy roads, or due to problems with heating systems.

In Hampshire - one of the worst-affected counties this week - at least 493 schools from a total of 536 are closed.

The weather has been particularly bad in Scotland , where 250 schools remain shut and in Wales where heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures have also caused chaos. Northern Ireland was also affected by the icy weather.

More than 250 of Oxfordshire's 300 schools were set to remain closed for the day in the county's freezing conditions.

In Buckinghamshire, the county council said there were more than 220 closures, while West Berkshire Council expected more than 70 schools to stay closed.

Hundreds also remained shut in Surrey, with the local council saying many did not know when they would be reopening their doors.

In East and West Sussex at least 160 schools announced closures. Dozens of schools in Hertfordshire were also shut.

And London, especially the outer-lying boroughs, has been particularly badly hit after yesterday afternoon's snowfall.

Staff journeys

Some 45 schools are closed in Ealing, 32 are shut in Hillingdon, 29 in Bexley, 20 in Merton, while in Richmond 21 schools and the tertiary college were shut.

Things were better in central London, but some boroughs saw a lot of schools closed, including 15 in Islington and 12 in Lewisham.

A spokesman for the London Councils said whether a school closed or not mostly depended on how far its staff had to commute.

Schools in the North and North West were also still badly hit, where more than 1,300 remain closed.

Salford City Council said all of its schools were closed again, with scores also shutting in Warrington, Cheshire.

St Helens Council on Merseyside said only one school was opening today, while in Greater Manchester more than 100 schools remain closed and around 230 stayed shut in Lancashire.

'Check websites'

In Newcastle, 68 schools let pupils and staff stay at home because of the weather conditions and in Northumberland 176 schools were closed.

Widespread closures were also reported in Cumbria, with more than 70 schools shut.

The Midlands also remains affected with dozens of schools shut across Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Walsall and the East Midlands.

More than 50 were shut in central Bedfordshire, while in Northamptonshire 58 were closed.

More than 1,000 schools across the South West are closed, along with the University of Bath.

The Federation of Small Businesses has criticised head teachers, accusing them of closing schools too readily in the snowy weather, saying lost working days are affecting many companies.

But head teachers' leaders have said such decisions are never taken lightly and children's safety is paramount.

Parents are being advised to check school and local authority websites for information.

There are also updates available from local BBC websites .

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