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Governors Blog - Car Parking

Dear Parents and Carers

At the Full Governing Body meeting in January, we had a long, frank and involved discussion about the issue of parking and this letter aims to set out the key points as we see them and to address some of the suggestions that have been made.

Every term, someone makes a complaint to the school about parking. The complaints tend to focus on two issues; the inconsiderate parking of some parents and the amount of cars trying to make use of the available parking spaces. In most cases the complaints are from local residents, whether they be parents at the school or not, although a recent petition included people from further afield.

As you know, the school was expanded and we will eventually have 420 children. It should be noted that when the planning application was made for the expansion project, we had to submit a travel plan.  A travel plan is a package of actions designed by a workplace, school or other organisation to encourage safe, healthy and sustainable travel options. By reducing car travel, travel plans can improve health and wellbeing, free up car parking space, and make a positive contribution to the community and the environment. The emphasis is on sustainable travel choices and Local Authorities are discouraged from creating parking spaces around school. We are unusual as very few schools in the city have dedicated parking bays directly outside.

The popularity of the school has continued to grow for a number of years and we attract a very high percentage of children from other catchment areas – currently 57%. At our peak, before new housing was built in our catchment area, 63% of our children came from out of catchment. This may contribute to the high number of parents who choose to drive to school. Parents who apply for a place at the school when they live out of catchment know that this will have implications for them getting their child to and from school.

Last year, the issue was raised with Councillor Kim Aitkin and this resulted in the addition of one extra parking bay on Wistow Way and the moving of one bay so that buses could move lanes more safely.

Earlier this year we received a number of emails from a concerned neighbour regarding the dangerous parking of some parents. There was some discussion about whether the school was legally responsible for where and how parents parked.

In November, we were informed that the City Council had received an e-petition signed by forty-two people asking for the provision of adequate parking at the school. Many of the people who completed the petition lived out of catchment. Some did not live near the school and were not parents of children at the school.

We have also received letters of complaint from concerned local parents who believe that it is only a matter of time before a child is injured or killed.

Many people have made suggestions for how they think we as a school can improve parking for parents. We feel that it would be helpful to share the suggestions and the School/Local Authority response to each.

Suggested Solution

School/LA Response

Create a drop off bay by cutting up the grass verge on Wistow Way.

This is too expensive and could cause additional problems when cars re-joined the highway.

Make use of the car park on the business park adjacent to the school.

 

There are many empty spaces at the Wistow Way end of the car park.

 

 

In the past the owners of the car park had indicated that they would not make spaces available to parents but would consider renting out blocks of ten to staff, at £70 per bay x 10, per month.

 

The LA could not justify this expense and the school refused to ask staff to park on the car park in order to free up the school car park for parents.

 

Brian Howard (Peterborough City Council)  intends to contact Cllrs Aitkin and Stokes to ask them to approach the Business Park again.

Make use of car parking facilities at Napier Place

Brian Howard will look at who owns the parking spaces and whether there is a way that they can be used.

Remove double yellow lines along Wistow Way

The Traffic Manager was not prepared to do this as it would create issues further along the road and for the buses which use Wistow Way.

Use banners and signage to reinforce to parents the message about parking safely.

The banners cost £49 and the A-frame signs cost £99.

The school intends to buy these.

A governor suggested asking parents who live near the school and have available car parking space on their drives at the start and end of the school day whether they would buddy up with another family and let them park at their house.

Organising this could be problematic although parents could do this themselves.

A resident offered to be an unofficial parking guard and was happy to approach parents who parked inconsiderately.

 

He suggested that we look into sanctions against parents who repeatedly park in a dangerous manor e.g. banning them from school plays, open days etc.

 

 

He contacted Rutland Cycling to see if we could set up some form of park and ride scheme based at their ferry meadows shop.

 

This could put the resident in a difficult situation with parents and cause issues between the school and parents.

 

 

This would cause issues between the school and parents.

 

 

 

 

Not sure what this would involve.

It has been suggested that we stagger the start of the school day for different year groups or simply open the school gates at 8.30 to allow parents to drop off twenty minutes before the start of the school day.

A staggered start would be a logistical nightmare for school and parents. We would struggle to align assembly times, breaktimes and lunchtimes.

 

Parents with children in more than one team or Key Stage would find this challenging.

 

Opening the school gates at 8.30 would mean that teachers were minding children for twenty minutes before registers were called.

 

Originally, the school gates were opened at 8.45 and children lined up on the playground. For the last few years, we have opened the gates at 8.40 to relieve stress on Wistow Way and children can come into school ten minutes early.

 

Staff often make themselves available to parents before school, we meet as a staff and teachers use the time to prepare for the day ahead.

Consider introducing a Walking Bus for children to be picked up at key locations.

The school would be happy to support any parents who would like to set up and run a Walking Bus but we cannot afford to staff it.

 

What has the school done to promote other ways of getting to school?

  • We take part in the Big Pedal each year, the UK’s largest inter-school cycling and scooting challenge that inspires pupils, staff and parents to choose two wheels for their journey to school. On each day of the challenge schools compete to see who can record the greatest number of pupils, staff and parents cycling or scooting to school. We came second in Peterborough last year.
  • Sustrans Dr Bike comes in to school to offer bike maintenance and servicing.
  • We purchased Balanceability bikes for the FS children and we take part in Bikeability with our older children. Balanceability works directly with schools to promote the physical benefits of cycling for young children as well as providing a success-orientated experience. The programme offers children the ability to become competent cyclists at an early age through the development of balance and control.
  • We had a Bling Your Bike day where children got to decorate their bikes.
  • Year 3/4 worked with Sustrans to learn basic bike maintenance skills e.g. changing a tyre
  • Every week our Eco Warriors award a Golden Lock to one random bike/scooter and the owner wins a prize.
  • Additional bike racks were added during the last building project.
  • With the help of the FOWS, we have bought additional scooter racks for the main playground to encourage FS-Y4 to use their scooters.
  • Last year we shared evidence about the number of accidents that occur near schools (see below).

What has the school got planned for this year?

  • Stabiliser Off Training to encourage children to cycle without stabilisers.
  • Bike and scooter obstacle course – fun day

As you can see, the school already does a great deal to promote children cycling/walking to school.

Most of the suggestions that have been made have focussed on what people would like the school to do to address the issue.

We have some suggestions of our own. Parents/Carers could:

  • Car share, taking it in turns to do the school run with a friend or neighbour.
  • Set up a Walking Bus
  • Encourage their child to walk, cycle or scoot to school. We are fortunate that there are many safe walking routes and yet many of our children, even those that live close to the school, come by car.
  • Leave earlier if you must drive and park further away, walking the remaining distance.
  • Let your child walk from your car onto the school playground so that you can vacate the parking spaces as soon as possible

We know that some parents ‘hold’ a parking space for a friend. This is unhelpful and reduces the number of available spaces. We are also acutely aware that several parents park outside school for a long time before the school gates are opened. Other heads who visit the school often comment on this and it does seem to be a Wistow phenomenon, one that we are not proud of.

The school cannot be held responsible for where, how and when parents park. If parents park illegally then local residents may choose to inform the police and the school would support this. Every parent who parks dangerously or inconsiderately is creating unnecessary tension between the school and its neighbours and, more importantly, putting a child’s life at risk.

We implore all parents and carers who drive to school to make a concerted effort to be part of the solution and not the cause of the problem. The Governing Body is mindful of how much time the school spends in meetings and communicating about parking and is keen to see this reduced. We are limited in terms of what power we have to influence where parents park, have no funds to invest and believe the best solution would be for some parents to adopt a different approach to the morning and afternoon school run.

Yours sincerely

Simon Eardley, Headteacher             

Mary Foreman, Chair of Governors

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Dear Parents and Carers

If you drive to school and park along Wistow Way or the neighbouring roads, this letter is for you.

I read an article recently that referred to a 2011 research study which showed that 1200 children a month are involved in collisions within 500 metres of the school gates.  That is over four times the number of children in our school, injured or killed each month.

‘School run’ child casualties, defined as accidents occurring between 7.30 and 8.58am and 3.00 and 4.59pm, accounted for roughly one third of all child casualties in the year.  Of the 6645 school run casualties in 2011, 804 were deaths or serious injuries.

I am writing to you today for your support in our campaign to improve the safety of the roads that surround our school.  Each day I see dangerous and inconsiderate parking on Wistow Way, with parents parked on double yellow lines, double parked, parked on the grass verge or blocking the bus lane. I also receive regular complaints from local neighbours, some of them parents, who have their own drives blocked by parents at the school. In some cases they receive verbal abuse and this is sometimes in front of young children.

I have written countless times to ask you to park legally and with consideration for other road users and our neighbours. The article I read really shocked me. I hadn’t realised the true cost and impact on young lives.  It made me think, are we going to wait until one of our children is seriously injured or even worse before we start taking some proactive action?

As you know, we have had an on-going concern outside our school with regards to traffic issues. We changed the arrangements at the start of the day to allow children in from 8.40 for registration at 8.50 to help alleviate some of the pressure.

There are two continuous problems we are facing on a daily basis:

  1. The first is the volume of traffic at dropping off and picking up times.  As our school has become more popular and oversubscribed, we have attracted a higher proportion of children from out of our catchment area. It is likely that this in turn has contributed to the number of parents who need to use their car to get their children to school.  However, I feel that many families live close enough to school for them, or their children to walk.
  1. The second problem is the unsafe parking of a very small minority of our parents at dropping off and picking up time.  Although this issue is mainly along Wistow Way, our neighbours in adjoining roads have to put up with the misery caused when parents park across their drive. Despite the road markings outside school to prevent cars parking close to the school gates, some parents still choose to park on these lines or on the verge. Some use the entrance to the school gates to drop off or to do a u-turn. This puts your children, our children, in danger.

As you know, we have raised this issue with our local Councillor, Kim Aitkin. As a result of this involvement some changes will be made to the parking bays on Wistow Way. We have requested a visual presence around school from the police/PCSOs and/or Parking Enforcement Officers. However, we are aware that some parents change their behaviour for one day only to revert back to dangerous parking when no one is there.

So, if you are one of the parents who decide to park illegally, dangerously or inconsiderately because you think, ‘It won’t matter this time, I’ll only be a couple of minutes’, please STOP! How do you know that you won’t cause one of the 1200 accidents a month within 500m of a school?

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope that you will support us in improving the parking situation.

Kind regards

Simon Eardley

Headteacher