THE headmaster of a local primary school has expressed serious concerns over the safety of his pupils after it emerged that the Education Authority is ‘very unlikely’ to replace a crossing patrol service.
Stephen Baillie, the new head of Parkhall Primary School, has already written to parents warning them of the issue.
In his letter, he told them that the current provider of the crossing patrol service on the Parkhall Road would step down this Friday (October 26) after being in the post for 18 months.
“As with all crossing patrols, the position is now being assessed by the Education Authority to decide whether they will maintain the service or discontinue the provision,” he said.
“The indication during my conversation with the Education Authority was that it was very unlikely that the crossing patrol service would be replaced.”
After this conversation, Mr Baillie immediately prepared correspondence for the parents as the EA asked him to inform them that it was ‘parents’ responsibility’ to ensure that children arrive safely at the school gate.
“While this is easy for a bureaucrat to decide in an office, it is not helpful for the safety of our pupils,” Mr Baillie continued.
He urged parents to remind children of the importance of road safety, particularly those who use the crossing unaccompanied and stressed that the message would also be reinforced in school.
Clearly distressed by the likely outcome, Mr Baillie said: “I am extremely worried about our pupils’ safety and want to ensure that no harm happens to our pupils coming to school or going home.”
He warned parents that once children return from the half term break on Monday, November 5, there will be no crossing patrol in place on the Parkhall Road.
He also told the Guardian that he was exploring his options in terms of employing a crossing patrol but stressed that the cost of this would inevitably affect provision in the classroom.
He said he would also look into contacting Roads Service about the possibility of a pedestrian crossing.
He added: “I want to add my apologies that this decision has been forced upon us from the Education Authority and it is a decision that we in school do not support.”