Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who has adapted to the gate changes, or even thanked us for the difference it has made. Obviously the change in routine has caused a few teething problems – I, myself break out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of the word ‘gate’. However, I understand from some of the members of our PTFA that there is still a bit of confusion about some areas, so here is a selection of frequently asked questions about gates.
Why did the gates have to change?
Firstly, and most importantly, the practice before was unsafe for children. I am not casting blame in the direction of any of my predecessors; however, the chances of a child coming to harm under the previous system were unacceptably high. Many of you will visit other schools, and will see that the way things are working now are very standard. It is our duty to keep your children safe. Secondly, the Safeguarding Officer who visited the school concurred with this viewpoint, stating that we would fail any form of school inspection before the inspectors entered the building because of the way the school gates and traffic were operating. Thirdly, parents asked me to. Traffic and gates was by far the most raised point when I met parents back in July.
Why can’t we open the pedestrian gate on the other side of the school?
Because the front part of the school is designated as a car park. Schools should never be using car parks as a designated access route, particularly as we still have disabled access cars coming though. On a lesser point, the bins are also stored here, which is another risk area that children should not be exposed to. The only way that we could open this gate is by putting a metal railing in the full way across the front of the school at a cost of several thousands of pounds. The gate would then still need manning by another member of staff. It just wasn’t manageable for us. I would remind everyone that the pre-school gate is now available for anyone to access the school on the left side at drop off and pick up time.
Which gate am I supposed to use during the day?
Currently the pedestrian gate on the Hobby side of the school is unlocked throughout the day (although it is kept closed). If you need to visit the school during the day, this is the correct access point.
We are having magnetic locks fitted to all outside gates, and with this will come access buzzers, so then you will be able to buzz through to the office to be let into the site. After reading some of the terrible stories in the news about people accessing nursery and school sites with weapons, I am sure you will appreciate why we want to make sure we know exactly who is getting into the school.
Why doesn’t the school do something about people parking or turning dangerously?
I am as shocked as you are at the dangerous parking and reversing of a very small number of people. I would encourage you to do as the school has been doing, and contact your local Police or PCSO officers. You can also try getting in touch with the Highways Agency and try to get a traffic warden out. As a school we have asked for the repainting of the road markings around the building (money for which will come out of our school budget). Let’s hope that this will help to remind people that we are a school which has children as young as 3 - who are very difficult to see out of a rear-view mirror.
The new arrangements are annoying if you are late!
Children really need to be on time for school.
If, in an exceptional circumstance, you are delayed, then children should always be brought in by their adult to the front office to sign in. This has always been the case. We would never recommend ‘dropping off’ a late child from the car to come in on their own - regardless of them having to come through a particular gate or not. If we don’t know to expect a child because they haven’t been registered, then how will anyone know if they have had an accident on the way in to school?
Why aren’t there signs that show people where to go?
We are ordering them as we speak. We have a substantial number of signs that we have to commission, and these have to be custom made and governor approved. This is definitely something that we can do better, and I promise you we will get this sorted for you.
I really hope that you take this message in the spirit it is meant. I have not brought in these changes to upset anyone. It would have been far easier (and less time consuming) for me to let things be. However, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if a child was lost, taken from the school, or injured by a car if I hadn’t done everything in my power to try and keep them safe. I completely accept that we are not perfect, and things may not be as slick as they could be yet, but I hope you have seen my honest investment in these changes in the fact that come rain or shine, there I am morning and afternoon, doing everything I can to keep all your children safe.