Parents push for safety measures outside school after near misses

Parents outside Robert Kett Primary School, Wymondham.

After several near-misses on the road outside Robert Kett Primary School in Wymondham, parents and teachers are starting a campaign to make it safer. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

A spate of near-misses outside a Wymondham school has led to its headteacher and a group of parents calling for improved safety measures at pick-up times.

Dangerous driving, inconsiderate parking and the absence of a crossing guard at pick-up times have led to chaotic scenes outside Robert Kett Primary School.

Stories from worried parents include a road rage incident where a driver mounted the pavement, almost hitting a toddler walking with her mother, and another close shave when a parent had to drag her six-year-old out of the way of a reversing car.

A recruitment process is currently under way to reinstate a crossing guard at the school.

The situation has caused a group of parents to call for increased safety measures, led by Lexi Clark, whose daughter Harper attends the school.

Lexi Clark and daughter Harper outside Robert Kett Primary School, Wymondham.

Lexi Clark, who started the campaign, with daughter Harper. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

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She said: "My six-year-old daughter was nearly hit and it was only for the fact that other parents alerted me to the fact this driver was reversing that I was able to pull her out of the way and avoid being hit myself, as she wasn’t even looking. In her defence the issue would not have arisen if the parking that’s allowed on the road wasn’t there.

"Like any other school, drop off and pick up times see an increased level of traffic but other schools have restrictions imposed by Norfolk County Council to aid this, like speed restrictions or double yellows to avoid cars being parked too close to the school.

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"I, the school and a lot of the parents feel that something needs to be done to avoid any further possible near misses, or even worse."

Fellow parent Victoria Ducker, whose two children attend the school, tries to park as far away from the school as possible so she doesn't get caught up in the "carnage", and believes there "desperately needs to be a change".

Victoria Ducker

Victoria Ducker said that, if anyone tries to talk to someone who is parked dangerously, then they are 'often met with verbal abuse'. - Credit: Victoria Ducker

"The school has done everything it can, but a significant minority continue to behave in an inconsiderate, selfish and dangerous manner," she said.

The mixture of congestion on the roads outside the school, parking and other passing traffic such as buses has led to a number of near-misses, including when a car mounted a pavement and almost hit Emma Purewal and her reception-age daughter.

"I banged on his window calling him an idiot, and he sped off," she said.

Emma Purewal

Parent Emma Purewal says some drivers choose to park 'like the rules don't apply to them'. - Credit: Emma Purewal

"The school sends out messages to parents telling them not to park dangerously, stop blocking driveways and not on double yellows, but some just do not listen and don't think the rules apply to them. I've seen people park right in front of the 'don't park here even for a second' sign. 

"Some are just plain lazy and don't want to walk any distance. Even though parking is limited there is always somewhere away from the school."

And Helen Lambert said she "holds on to her children very tightly" when dropping off and picking up daughter Emily, seven, and son Jack, six, from school.

Helen Lambert

Parent Helen Lambert, with daughter Emily and son Jack. - Credit: Helen Lambert

"There are children, cars, buses and bikes everywhere. It's very chaotic," she added.

The school has taken steps such as staggering pick up times, having staff outside to warn some inconsiderate parkers and publishing regular reminders to parents in the school newsletter, but headteacher Cara Fahy would like to see a more permanent solution, including a 20mph zone outside the school.

She said: "I know some parents would like it to be a no parking zone outside the school –how practical that is I don't know, but we'd have to weigh it up. It's all about the safety of the children.

Cara Fahy outside Robert Kett Primary School, Wymondham.

Robert Kett Primary School headteacher Cara Fahy, right, with parent Lexi Clark and daughter Harper outside the school in Wymondham. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"If we can all pull together, then hopefully we can get something done."

The school had a crossing guard at pickup times in the past, but this was lost when the holder of the role scaled back their hours.

Norfolk County Council's school crossing patrol manager Adrian Buck visited the school in November and recommended that a new crossing guard be recruited, after witnessing another near-miss incident himself.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, which oversees school crossing patrols in Norfolk, said: "The recruitment process is under way for a crossing patrol person at this location and we would urge anyone keen to apply to visit in the New Year."

We asked Norfolk County Council if measures other than the crossing guard were being considered, but they did not respond.

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