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Head warns expansion is putting pupils' safety at risk

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A HEAD Teacher helping to ease the borough's places crisis has warned that taking extra pupils has made nearby roads dangerously congested and is putting children's safety "at risk".

Susan Papas is so concerned she is hiring four people to help pupils cross the busy street near Heavers Farm Primary School in South Norwood.

The helpers will also be expected to speak "politely" to parents who park "dangerously".

The action follows an accident last month which saw a Year 5 pupil taken to hospital after being hit by a car.

The school, in Dinsdale Gardens, was permanently expanded to three forms of entry this year, and is one of eight schools taking an additional class this September.

Ms Papas said: "The number of people and traffic coming into a small area is putting children's safety at risk.

"We have been expanding in response to the increased need for primary places, however, this has caused increasing pressure on the local neighbourhood.

"We have approached the council to ask for help with this, but they have been singularly unhelpful."

Heavers Farm suggested a number of solutions, and even offered to pay for cameras at both its entrances but, in an e-mail seen by the Advertiser, a council officer replied: "At the present time there is very little we can do to assist with these issues which are so widespread across the borough".

In response, Ms Papas placed an advert on the school's website for road safety assistants.

Cleo Douglas, chairman of the school's PTA, said: "There are a number of parents who do park irresponsibly. It's a case of tunnel vision, they think they're the only ones doing it when actually lots of them are.

"It had been congested for quite some time but it has become worse since the school has taken more pupils."

The new roles are part-time, 8.30-9am, and 2.45-3.15pm every week day.

Six 'walking bus' officers, who guide children to school on foot after they are dropped off at nearby Sainsbury's car park, are also being recruited.

"I felt something needed to be done," said Ms Papas.

"We had a scare last month, which shocked a lot of the parents.

"It wasn't a major accident but I believe it's only a matter of time before a child is more seriously hurt."

The Year 5 pupil suffered bumps and bruises, and was taken to hospital as a precaution, when she was knocked down after trying to cross behind a parked car.

Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, young people and learners, said the school had not raised the issue with him, but he would be happy to visit and see for himself if asked.

He added: "We recognise increased traffic flow is an issue at schools which have taken extra pupils. It's always a consideration when we take these decisions.

"We've had to ask certain schools to expand, and are building new schools, in less than ideal locations, but we don't have unlimited land so we're doing the best we can with the sites that are available. At the end of the day, providing more places is the priority."

Ms Papas' concerns come after the council axed ten lollipop men and women across the borough to save £60,000 a year.

Head warns expansion is putting pupils' safety at risk


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