Don't blame schools for snow closures, says Kent County Council education boss Mike Whiting
Children made the most of
an unexpected day of school because of snow
by political editor Paul Francis
Kent County Council's education chief says he sympathises
with schools that faced difficult decisions about whether or
not they should close because of the snow.
Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), cabinet member for education, said it
was wrong for schools to be criticised when each faced different
challenges and problems.
Nearly 200 primary and secondary schools closed across the
county yesterday. Many have complained some schools were
too quick to shut their doors to pupils.
But Cllr Whiting said: "It is a difficult one if you are not on
the ground to know what the individual circumstances are
like. Schools are damned if they do and damned if they
"There are some schools that against all the odds seemed to stay
open and others who found it impossible to do so. It is a very
tough call and I would not want to criticise schools.
"They know how it will affect them and know, for example, where
their teachers have to travel in from."
He added: "I would like all schools to be open all the time
but I do appreciate that head teachers have difficult decisions to
"There is always a knock-on and decisions should not be taken
head teachers and I am sure they are not."
Some parents have complained that schools were too quick to
announce closures when the problems caused by the snow were
Cllr Whiting added: "I am very pleased to see the vast majority
schools have been opened today."
One head teacher who vowed to keep his school open regardless of
the weather has divided opinion.
Phil Karnavas, the principal of Canterbury Academy,
said schools should
not shut if they could avoid it.
He said: "We are a public service and, thus, we should
serve the public. If schools close it means children are at home.
If children are at home it means some parents cannot go to
"This means that they could lose money. Parents should not
be inconvenienced unless there really is no option."
He added: "If we believe that education is important because it
improves the life chances of children then we should not, nor
should we been seen to, look for reasons not to offer it."
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