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Teachers, governors, parents - opinions, please.

13 replies

seeker · 25/01/2008 19:06

Our school is in a small market town. it has very nice grounds which we have worked on over the years so that we now have a conservation area, an excellent play area with lots of benches. Last summer lots of people stayed after school sitting on the benches and chatting while the children played - it was lovely, and just how the head at the time imagined it working.

This year security at the school has
been tightened up considerably by the new Head, and the gates are now locked at 3.30 sharp. If you are in the school after that, you have to go out through the front door, which can only be opened by using a secrurty code. This means that parents will no longer be able to use the grounds after school because everyone has to be out by 3.30.

I queried this, and I was told that this action was taken because there are sometimes children who stay after school and don't have a parent with them. The Head said that the school is responsible for anything that happens on school grounds even after the school closes, and therefore nobody can stay - if one of the unaccompanied children was hurt then it would be the school's fault.

I am wondering if there's anyway round this? Could we put disclaimers up at the school gates saying that after 3.30 the grounds are unsupervised and not the school's responsibility? Or something?

OP posts:
NAB3wishesfor2008 · 25/01/2008 19:07

It sounds a real shame that it has worked so well and now it has been stopped.

Hulababy · 25/01/2008 19:13

What time does school end?

I can see it from the POV of the school though. I guess whilst parents and children are on site they can't go "off duty" or home as easy. School would, I imagine, be resposnible for people on their property, and they also cn't lock up for the night, securing the premises, until all have gone.

But can also see why it was a nice thing to be able to do for the parents and children.

Is there a compromise to be had do you think?Maybe say the gates remain open until 30 minutes after school ends or something?

choosyfloosy · 25/01/2008 19:13

My view is that there is nearly always a way round things. I think your views are entirely right FWIW. The new head clearly has the virtue of being decisive and taking effective action, so it may be best to target them.

You can get advice from the health and safety executive phoneline here

Also interesting paragraph from interiew on HSE website with some top HSE guru
Sensible risk management
Sir Bill Callaghan interview
Governor?s Agenda, November 2006, published by ContinYou

'As street have become increasingly unsafe playgrounds for children, school grounds may by, for many children, the closest open space to their home, but may not be accessible except for ?official business?. The move to develop extended services in and around the school means that many schools will provide childcare from 8am to 6pm, which should certainly be safe, but may leave children feeling ?over-supervised?. Do you have any thoughts about how school grounds might be made accessible to children outside supervised clubs?without creating undue risk?
Each school will need to think creatively about the options, and how this could be made to work, taking into account the views of their insurers. Get in touch with them and open a dialogue. Schools are being encouraged to consider how they respond to the extended schools agenda. Sensible risk management is not about stopping recreational and learning activities where the risks are properly controlled, it is about focusing on real risks, and on properly protecting workers and the public while enabling innovation to take place.

If you were to summarise your message to school governors in a few lines, what would you say?
Sensible risk management is about practical steps to managing real risks, not bureaucratic back covering. Address the real risks, not only to pupils, but also to the health and well-being of your staff. And remember, risk assessment is just good planning ? keep it fit for purpose and act on it.'

seeker · 25/01/2008 19:19

It's not that the stall want to go home - I'd understand that. It's that they can't tell whether the children playing have parents with them or not. If the parents are there, thy are responsible for their own children, of course, but if the children are unaccompanied, they are the school's responsibility - even if they don't have permission to be there and it is after school hours.

Thank you, choosyfloosy, I'll have a look at that site. I am a new parent governor, and I want to have something to take to the next governors meeting.

OP posts:
seeker · 27/01/2008 08:05

Just bumping this in case anyone else fancies a comment - I'm thinking about what I'm going to say at the governors meeting and I need all the help I can get!

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roisin · 27/01/2008 08:18

I'm not at all surprised by the school. It has probably been advised to do so by LEA and legal people. It's very hard to limit liability for personal injury, and certainly putting up a few signs won't do it.

Is there a pond? Imagine if a toddler ended up drowned in the pond, there would be an outcry!

We have all sorts of 'interesting' things on our school site, and our Governors do not allow anyone on the premises at all: parents have to wait outside the school gate/fence at the end of the day to pick up children for legal reasons, and also because people were arriving earlier and disturbing/putting off the oldest children who were having PE lessons and feeling intimidated by the audience.

seeker · 27/01/2008 08:29

Thank you roisin - I feel I am probably fighting a losing batle. It's just that it was so nice last summer being able to sit on the benchs and chat! I suspect that our old head was the type who ignored rules when they didn't suit him, and the new one is more concsious of his responsibilities.

It's not the toddlers there with their parentsthe school seem worried about, actually - it seems to be some actual pupils of the school who stay on the premises after school and are not picked up and so are the school's responsibility.

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roisin · 27/01/2008 08:53

and I can imagine it would be very tempting to children to hang around in such a lovely setting and not go straight home. Or for working parents to skimp on childcare and just tell the kids to hang around school for an extra 30-40 mins, before they'd get picked up, or whatever.

seeker · 27/01/2008 08:55

I know

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doddle · 27/01/2008 09:17

We have a sign up that says that children in the playground before 9am and after 3.45pm are the responsibility of parents and carers, unless they are attending an extended day activity. We do like children to be out by 4pm, otherwise it becomes confusing for the staff of the after school club.

Blandmum · 27/01/2008 09:22

And I can just see two diametrically opposed postings on MN.

'I was sitting on a nice bench, monitoring my child and then some bloody bossy teacher strode across and told Tarquin off for behaving badly. How dare she!'


'Some poor child was knocked over in the playground, his parents hadn't arrived and those lazy bloody teachers were not supervising ! How dare they'

Sadly one of those, 'We can't win' situations wher sometimes the 'soultion' is to close the doors

Shame though

seeker · 27/01/2008 12:50

I know

We're only just starting to realize quite what a rule-flouter the old head was!

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Mercy · 27/01/2008 13:17

It is a shame as MB says, but this is now what happens at dd's school. It's just as much to keep people out as to keep children in, iyswim.

There had been numerous thefts (and one or 2 other horrible things) over the years before this security measure was in place.

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