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To think DS's school doesn't need written permission for him to walk home?

(52 Posts)
StuntNun Mon 22-Oct-12 22:52:41

My DS1 is nine (ten in January). We live a third of a mile away from his school in a small village. There are pavements all the way from the school to our house and he only needs to cross two quiet roads - both cul-de-sacs. He has been walking home from school by himself or with friends most days since the start of the school year (unless there is heavy rain when I pick him up I'm the car.

Today the headteacher phoned at 3:10 to ask who was picking him up. I said he was walking home as he had done for the past eight weeks. She said I need to give the school written permission for him to walk home.

AIBU to think that this is over the top? And more to the point, if he needs written permission to be allowed to walk home, why has he been happily walking home by himself or with friends for the past eight weeks? Is this standard school practice now?

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Mon 22-Oct-12 22:54:09

Well look at it this way. If he took it upon himself to walk home without your knowledge, and the school just let him go, and he disappeared, who would you blame?

McHappyPants2012 Mon 22-Oct-12 22:54:26

Perhaps a new guideline.

midseasonsale Mon 22-Oct-12 22:54:40

The school are right. They have a duty of care even while the child is walking home and if he has to do it alone, it needs to be official.

Groovee Mon 22-Oct-12 22:54:49

I've never given written permission. I did give verbal permission to my childminder.

sausagesandwich34 Mon 22-Oct-12 22:56:41

our school asks for permission below yr5

yr5&6 are just 'released' after school and are left to their own devices

RandomMess Mon 22-Oct-12 22:57:15

The norm around here is that junior aged school children are released from school not collected...

I wonder if they have reviewed their own policy which is that they need collecting and realised that they don't have parental permission to deviate from that.

shrimponastick Mon 22-Oct-12 22:57:48

YANBU to expect your DS to be able to walk home alone. Perfectly fine in my book.

however, neither are school to request your permission in writing. They have to cover their backs.

Saying that my DS was walking home from primary in yr 5 - no written permission request from his school.

EdithWeston Mon 22-Oct-12 23:00:03

Our school asks for written permission.

I think it's a good idea. It leaves it up to the parents to make the decision, insight of route etc, about when the individual child or sibling group is mature enough to make the journey responsibly. And if, heaven forbid, a child is run over outside the school, there can be no question about whether the school had acted correctly in releasing the child alone.

It only takes a few seconds to write such a letter; no big deal when set against the clarity it provides.

joanofarchitrave Mon 22-Oct-12 23:01:47

Our school make it clear that once a child is in the playground at 3.10, they're your responsibility. I wouldn't think of blaming them if, God forbid, anything happened to ds on his way home. We're very close to school and ds has gone to school on his own since he was 6.5 and come home alone since he was 8.

However, if the head teacher asked, I would happily provide a letter. I don't really see what it would achieve but anything they want to make their lives easier is OK by me.

zipzap Mon 22-Oct-12 23:07:01

I think you're right - the written permission thing is a bit of a side issue. Pah - written or not, if that's their policy that's their choice. If it is written permission they want then they should have a form that is sent out at the start of the year for parents to fill in.

Much bigger issue is that if their policy really is that they need written permission, then why the hell have they have been letting him walk home alone all this time? And what has just prompted them to notice? And what other things do they have policies about that are not being kept?

Do you know if the other kids he usually walks home with have also been asked to provide written permission?

whathasthecatdonenow Mon 22-Oct-12 23:11:27

I suspect they are just getting their safeguarding ducks in order. The policy may have just been updated. You only have to read the threads on AIBU to see that schools can often do no right, so I don't blame them for being extra-cautious.

GhostShip Mon 22-Oct-12 23:43:35

The school are right!

celtiethree Mon 22-Oct-12 23:45:22

Yanbu , not much of a policy if they didn't notice for 8 weeks. For my school they pay attention for p1&p2, which I would say is the same as reception and y1 (or at the most y2), after that a complete free for all.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 23-Oct-12 00:20:53

I believe our school are a pain below Y6, wouldn't surprise me if they wanted it in writing.

They were really silly about letting one girl walk who lived almost next door down a foot path.

DD says they made her Y6 friend walk back up to school and home again, when they had been doing something next to his house. Everyone knew his parents were out and he had a key, so his being home 15 minutes early was of no concern whatsoever ever.

CointreauVersial Tue 23-Oct-12 00:26:26

It's just making sure they've ticked the safeguarding boxes.

Ours recently changed the policy and asked everyone below Y6 to give permission, even if the child was just waiting outside the gate. But it's just a case of signing a piece of paper which then serves as ongoing permission; hardly an onerous task. They don't mind them walking home; they just need to make sure they have permission to release them. Fair enough, in my book.

WofflingOn Tue 23-Oct-12 00:42:40

Yes, it is standard practice at all the schools in my area, and we monitor the gate at hometime to check that only those with permission leave unaccompanied. How else can we safeguard? Once the office have a note, then it's fine and no questions are asked.
I'm more shocked that it's taken weeks for them to pick up on the fact that he's been leaving without permission!

BackforGood Tue 23-Oct-12 00:44:35

At my dc's Junior school, the children are released from the classrooms and the onus is on them to find their adult, walk home, or do whatever arrangement they have.
If they stay for an after school activity, then they have to have written permission to leave on their own.
I quite like the balance.
To my mind, if a school changes it's policy, or has always had a policy in place to ensure every child leaves school only with an adult the school knows they are allowed to leave school with, it's setting itself up for a huge amount of monitoring which is disproportionate to any perceived issues. By having that written into your policy, it means all gates will have to be 'manned', every 'different' arrangement logged by the parents in advance (presumably in writing?), and, all in all, a great deal of additional office hours, and teachers directed hours at the end of the day.

lljkk Tue 23-Oct-12 03:57:35

yanbu, I agree it's silly, but just grit your teeth & follow their rules. They have huge H&S rules to worry about.

StuntNun Tue 23-Oct-12 06:19:06

I don't really mind writing the permission letter. I am more (1) irritated that this has never been mentioned before; if it's so important why don't they put it in one of the endless school notes he brings home. (2) Annoyed that he has been walking home for eight weeks this school year and on a number of occasions last year without this coming up before. What's the point of having a safeguard system if it is so inadequately enforced? It makes me feel that the school is making up these rules as they go along.

RobynRidingHood Tue 23-Oct-12 06:23:48

Rules get brought in when one parent complains. Just becasue you are happy with you son walking hiome, doesnt mean another parent hasn't gone (rightly) dipshit when her child has decided to walk home with his mates and slipped out of the gate un-noticed.

Red tapes annoys me but sometimes it is necessary to protect everyone in the event of an accident.

Can you imagine? Child gets knocked over. There is no record of a verbal agreement between mother and teacher. Mother then sues school saying she never gave permission for child to walk. All too possible.

FolkGhoul Tue 23-Oct-12 06:35:50

If you've only just been told about it, it may well be that this was one of the discussion points in a recent governing body meeting or staff meeting.

School rules, policies and guidelines aren't absolute, or natural law. A parent will phone/write in to complain about something and it gets discussed at the next meeting. And action is agreed upon based on that and the information will then be passed on at the next available opportunity.

Another parent may, for example, have written a letter to the governing body/school to complain about this several weeks ago. The situation might have been resolved with that parent individually but it was still discussed at the full governing body meeting at which point all angles will have been considered and an appropriate outcome agreed upon.

So you might not have been able to be told about it before because it might not been a rule that existed 24 hours previously.

It makes me feel that the school is making up these rules as they go along In some cases, that is exactly how the rules are made up. Schools respond to the individual needs of their own schools. The rules aren't handed down from the LA or from the government.

The school will know quite well what the LA safeguarding requirements are, but it is up to them to agree on the minutiae.

nooka Tue 23-Oct-12 06:45:58

Even if they have only just decided on the rule then enforcing it before telling parents about it is pretty stupid in my book. what if StuntNun hadn't been home? Would they have kept him behind until they made contact? What if a parent wasn't home for several hours but say an older sibling was or if they were due to go to a friends house?

This sort of rule change should be announced in advance so parents have time to send in notes or make alternative arrangements, not just introduced one afternoon. I wonder how many parents had to be contacted that afternoon? Seems a bit chaotic.

pigletmania Tue 23-Oct-12 06:46:03

Better safe than sorry. Be thankful they ar being cautious. Yes who would you blame if anything happened to him

Sparrows12 Tue 23-Oct-12 08:47:13

At our school, it is about information, not permission - so I am expected to notify them in writing as to the usual arrangements each term. This makes a lot of sense to me.

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