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22/5 School Closed for Polling Day.

(42 Posts)
Feelingbettertoday Tue 01-Apr-14 14:35:47

I'm a bit peeved as the school is closing on this day. My son is at a state community school. I know it's not the schools fault so that's not where I'm going. But couldn't LA's use libraries, council offices, even space at leisure centres and only use the school premises in the evenings. This way thousands of children like mine can still go to school. It's not about child care as I am home on that day anyway - but I genuinely think that it is possible to find other premises. Does anyone know if there is any discussion on this outside of mumsnet, and if not is it worth opening up the debate?

saltlakecity Tue 01-Apr-14 18:01:18

I'm a teacher and I completely agree. Other buildings could and should be used.

meditrina Tue 01-Apr-14 18:09:02

Our local polling station is not in a school, and neither our primary nor secondary is used as one.

I's all local decisions by your council - is anyone making the point or campaigning locally? Have you written to your councillor?

morethanpotatoprints Tue 01-Apr-14 18:13:32

isn't it just a nice odd day off for the kids. Mine used to love polling day.
If you are at home anyway I can't understand why you would have a problem with it.

AryaUnderfoot Tue 01-Apr-14 18:27:07

It irritates me as DS' school is always used as a polling station. I found the police commissionerss election particularly irritating, as the turnout was so low.

The school generally has Inset days on the days that the school is closed for elections. The after school club usually runs full daycare on Inset days anyway. Next year will be a general election (the date of which will not be known very far in advance) and the governing body have agreed that the election date (when the school will have to close) will be an Inset day.

Fuzzymum1 Tue 01-Apr-14 18:41:16

Our primary school used to be used as a polling station, the LA resisted changing it as they often have to pay to use alternatives. A few years back they moved our polling station to the village hall.

Feelingbettertoday Tue 01-Apr-14 19:27:14

Morethanpotatoprints.

The point is that other other venues could be used. And it probably does impact on other parents, and that children don't miss a days school. Also we have every weekend, school holiday and inset day to spend time together so we don't also need random midweek day that I have no option to choose .

QuiteQuietly Tue 01-Apr-14 19:27:47

I would have thought that with more and more people using postal votes, the council could get away with smaller venues for polling eg parts of other buildings, like a meeting room at a library/job centre, rather than shutting a whole school so the hall could be used? Our old school was always shut, but used it as an INSET day which seemed fair enough although I do prefer our INSET days to fall on days when the rest of the world is at school! New school stays open, because the council uses the creche room in a nearby sports centre - this seems a better use of local resources.

OP why don't you propose a reasonable alternative to the elections officer at your local council?

Feelingbettertoday Tue 01-Apr-14 19:33:21

QQ

I think I will do that, Thanks

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 01-Apr-14 19:39:36

In our town the civic buildings are in the centre. Polling stations must be in the ward they are covering. So the only other options for everyone in other wards away from our central ward are either church halls, or if the ward doesnt have a church hall a school.

AryaUnderfoot Tue 01-Apr-14 20:02:27

Our local school is the only civic building in the ward, so there's no alternative. It's right opposite our house, though, so actually quicker to walk there than to walk to the post box.

For the town and parish council elections they tend to just use part of the building and so keep the school open.

ouryve Tue 01-Apr-14 20:05:37

I agree. It's a tradition that goes a long way back, but there are so many other possible premises. In our village, the library (yes, we still have one, open for half the week) is used. There are a couple of other community buildings which could serve the purpose, too, without having to close the school down, all of them in the centre of the village.

meditrina Tue 01-Apr-14 20:05:54

You can use just a school hall, if e layout means you can access it separately from the other school buildings.

The other requirements are that it is easily accessible from all parts of the ward, has full disabled access, has toilets and at least a tea point (if not full kitchen) for the poll staff.

tiggytape Tue 01-Apr-14 23:19:17

If your ward has a good alternative, you could email your MP and suggest it.
As others have said though, the building has to be in the ward itself and meet other criteria regarding size, access, distance from voters' addresses etc so sometimes a school is the only suitable public building that meets all those requirements.

Schools do not have the right to refuse to be used (although they too can suggest alternatives) but they do have the option to remain open if they think they can safely manage this (most can't).

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 01-Apr-14 23:25:18

Schools used as polling stations still have to provide the same number of teaching days IIRc.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Tue 01-Apr-14 23:29:04

I agree with you. DS2's primary school was always closed on polling day as the Junior Hall (only) was used as a Polling Station. This is despite it being next door to a church hall confused.

Why was the church hall not used? Yes, Polling Stations are open until 10pm and there would be a regular booking on a Thursday evening which would have had to be cancelled for that week. Why though, is the local amateur dramatics group (or whatever it was) deemed more important and less able to be cancelled than a day's schooling for 450 pupils?

Feelingbettertoday Wed 02-Apr-14 05:53:59

TheDoctrineOfSnatch
"Schools used as polling stations still have to provide the same number of teaching days IIRc"

Could you give me a link to this info - as our school calendar for this year is set from the end of last academic year, and there hasn't been any changes to inset days to take Polling Day into account. Thanks

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 02-Apr-14 06:52:40

I think I read it on here but google has given me...

"If this cannot be achieved, the school will normally close for the day. In such cases, the governing body must take reasonable steps to make up the lost day, in order to fulfil its duty for the school to meet for 380 half-day sessions in a school year."

https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/education/schools/term-dates/Pages/The-number-of-days-in-a-school-year-.aspx

Polling days are known further in advance than inset days.

mummytime Wed 02-Apr-14 07:04:35

Umm I'm not sure about the polling stations have to be in the ward thing. I know there was one general election where "our" polling booth wasn't the one in the building opposite our front door, but up the road in the PRU.

Here the council try to not use schools as much as possible, and when it does if at all possible it just uses a separate part of the school and the rest remains open.

tiggytape Wed 02-Apr-14 08:52:46

All schools can choose to remain open but, in practice, the Head cannot do so unless they are satisfied that they can properly separate the two areas. Most schools layouts don't allow for that.

The church hall next to a school might be fine in terms of location but it might not meet the requirements for size and disability access etc. I very much doubt the returning Officer cares more about drama groups than he or she does about school days missed.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 02-Apr-14 09:04:43

Yeah, actually I think you are right mummytime - my apologies - under special circumstances they can be outside the polling district.

guidance here

p12 mentions schools.

There seems to be a statutory requirement to undertake a review of polling districts between Oct 13 and end Jan 15, so its a good time to lobby your local council. However the further people have to travel to vote the lower the turnout tends to be - so use your campaigning wisely - unintended consequences and all that.

mummytime Wed 02-Apr-14 09:16:11

I think rather than use my DCs primary school they use a hall in the Old people's home opposite, which is doubly sensible.

housemad Wed 02-Apr-14 09:49:03

Our polling station is in a church. I suppose there 's no need to use a school as polling station.

clam Wed 02-Apr-14 17:06:32

Re: making up the days of schooling, my understanding is that other schools are given an "occasional day" in lieu, to balance the fact that polling station schools have that extra day. The only difference is, other schools can choose when to take it - many choose a Friday near to Christmas, which people tend to assume means that the teachers are off on a jolly Christmas shopping. angry

saltlakecity Wed 02-Apr-14 21:49:24

Not true in the slightest clam. Non polling schools do not get an extra day at all.

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