‘Somehow I have got to keep these children safe,’: Head teacher speaks out as school steps up road safety campaign

Clare Griffiths, head teacher Dunmow St Mary's Primary School. Picture: TERI PENGILLEY

Clare Griffiths, head teacher Dunmow St Mary's Primary School. Picture: TERI PENGILLEY - Credit: Teri Pengilley

A primary school is stepping up its campaign for better safety measures during drop-off and pick-up time, after a toddler was knocked down outside the school gates.

Clare Griffiths, head teacher at Dunmow St Mary's Primary School, called for parents to put "children's safety first" after the incident in March but, since then, she says "nothing has changed on the roads".

The head, who will speak to the Uttlesford Local Highways Panel about the issue in January, has now taken to standing outside the school most mornings in an effort to stop people parking on double yellow lines and prohibited spaces.

"Somehow I have got to keep these children safe," she said. "We have got 450 children and out of those, 400 probably have parents trying to keep their children safe but you always get some people who don't."

Mrs Griffiths will ask the highways panel for measures which will slow traffic and increase pupils' safety, such as extending the double yellow lines, a 20mph zone and a means to safely cross to the back of the school.

A 'pop-up' zebra crossing, will also be installed outside the school on November 28, to raise awareness of the issue.

Mrs Griffiths has spent "many years" lobbying Essex County Council (ECC) for such measures, she says, adding: "When you are talking about the safety of children I do not think you can really afford to let it keep dropping off the bottom of the list."

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A spokesman for Essex Highways said: "Children's safety near school is a key priority. Parents dropping off or collecting their children at school must drive slowly and carefully and must not park or stop on the extensive areas marked 'keep clear' which together with the bus stop area covers all entrances to the school.

"There are extensive areas without parking restrictions nearby, and parents and children should walk a few more yards to avoid creating hazards near the school.

"The Uttlesford Local Highway Panel is considering a request for further safety measures outside the school. The panel has commissioned speed surveys to inform a validation of how useful measures are likely to be. It may be that a '20's Plenty' or a '20mph when lights flash' scheme could be introduced."