Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

School snow closure 'unnecessary'

The leader of Manchester City Council criticises schools for closing

The leader of Manchester City Council has criticised schools for "unnecessarily" closing during the freezing weather.

In an e-mail sent to fellow councillors Sir Richard Leese said the continued school closures were having a "knock-on impact" on other services.

About 100 schools are closed as temperatures fall as low as -15C.

Karen Hopwood, from teachers' union, NASUWT, reacted angrily saying health and safety was of utmost importance.

"Schools are not a childminding service," Ms Hopwood, a teacher at Chapel Field Primary in Radcliffe, said.

"The routes into some schools are terrible, which is putting children, teachers and parents at risk.

"I understand that parents are having problems with childcare, but our main priority is the safety of our students."

It is extreme and exceptional circumstances and we are trying to give parents as much notice as possible
Karen Hopwood, NASUWT

In his e-mail, Sir Richard said "school closures were causing some concern" and "many seem to be unnecessary".

"Apart from the obvious impact on our children's education they are having a knock-on impact on other services including health because of staff having to take leave to look after their children."

Many schools have been closed for the past two days as snow, ice and freezing temperatures continue to affect the county's public transport services, roads and motorways.

Ms Hopwood added: "We are supposedly having the worst freeze in the past 30 years.

"It is extreme and exceptional circumstances and we are trying to give parents as much notice as possible.

"It would be worse to try and open the school, have parents struggling to bring their children in and then we have to close a few hours later because the heating isn't working, for instance.



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