Schools across country forced to shut again

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The Independent Online

Thousands of children were told to stay at home again today as fresh snowstorms brought new misery for schools.

Hundreds of schools across the UK have closed their doors as teachers struggled to make their way in to work.

In Oxfordshire children were being turned away from 19 schools, which were forced to close because of the adverse weather conditions.

Dozens more closed for the same reason in Buckinghamshire, and a spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said more than 200 schools were shut.

Thousands of pupils in Birmingham were told to stay at home today, as about a quarter of the city's schools were closed.

On Tuesday, Birmingham City Council closed every school in the city under the Emergency Closure of Schools Notice, attracting criticism from many parents who called it a "bad example" to children.

Today the decision has been left to individual head teachers, a council spokeswoman said.

So far 111 schools from a total of 428 have announced closures.

A spokeswoman for Herefordshire Council said 42 schools would not open today.

In Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, 141 schools were closed today because of icy conditions or difficulties for staff in getting to work.

In Bath and North East Somerset, 44 schools were closed.

Classes at the University of Bath and the University of the West of England were also cancelled as campuses were closed.

Up to three inches of snow fell across Gloucestershire, closing nearly 300 schools across the county.

In Wiltshire, more than five inches of snow led to the closure of more than 60 schools.

The north of Scotland was hit by snowfalls of between six and eight inches today and in Aberdeenshire the council announced the full or partial closure of 93 schools.

The Highland Council closed 20 schools.

Across Somerset, 69 schools were closed, while more than 20 schools were closed in Sheffield and a similar number in Rotherham as several centimetres of fresh snow fell in South Yorkshire.

Hundreds of schools across south and mid-Wales were closed again as heavy snowfalls hit the principality.

Worst hit was Powys, in mid Wales, where all 120 primary and secondary schools in the county were closed today.

Council chiefs in the large rural county decided to close every school last night after forecasts of further significant snowfall.

Schools are expected to reopen tomorrow but parents are urged to listen to local radio and TV, which will broadcast the final decision this afternoon.

Children were also warned about the possible dangers which come with the cold weather.

Deputy chief fire officer Dave Etheridge, from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Frozen waterways covered with snow could be a particular peril in the forecast weather conditions and we would warn people to stay away from them.

"Youngsters in particular can see snow as an opportunity to play and enjoy themselves.

"While this may be the case, we would hope both they and their parents are vigilant and wary of the dangers."