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Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Tuesday, 22 January 2013

School snow closures 'must be avoided'

Many schools across the UK have been closed this week because of snow: yesterday, including more than 5,000 in England.

The education secretary Michael Gove told the Commons that he thought "everything can and should be done" to keep them open, and there is a debate about how the decision is made.

Some parents may want to keep children at home in rural areas where there a difficult and maybe dangerous journey to school in bad conditions; others may think that their own working lives are disrupted by children unexpectedly being turned away from school.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the Today programme's James Naughtie that depending on whether the teachers are able to make it into schools, the question is "can the head guarantee the safety of the children in the school?"

"We should keep the roads open and schools open so we can continue with our everyday lives," he added.

The Conservative MP Graham Stuart, who chairs the Commons education select committee, said "We cannot have schools closing unnecessarily, because... of the impact on small businesses."

"If it can be avoided, it must be avoided and everything must be done."

"Every member of [school] staff needs to recognise there central importance of not only to the education of the child but to the economy of the area," he insisted.

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