Mums and dads are fuming after a school announced they will be fined £1 for every five minutes they are late picking up their children. Holy Trinity C of E Primary might even call social services if pupils aren’t collected before 4pm under its new policy introduced this week.
Parents have slammed the crackdown as ‘a disgrace’ and accused the headteacher of punishing less well-off families who struggle to cover basic costs as it is. But the school in Gravesend, Kent, says the policy isn’t just a deterrent for lateness but also to cover the costs of paying teachers forced to stay late to look after youngsters.
One parent, who did not want to be named, said people were ‘shocked and appalled’ when they were told of the fines.
They said: ‘Gravesend is a deprived area and many parents struggle to work due to the cost of childcare. ‘Lots of schools finish around the same time and this means that it is a struggle to get kids on time.’
They said Holy Trinity used to let children wait in the library, before it was closed for refurbishments. An after school club was also set up a few years ago but was closed ‘with little notice’ because it ‘didn’t make enough money’, the parent said.
They added: ‘The letter says that if kids aren’t picked up by 4pm the school will ring social services. ‘We think the fact that the governors have agreed to impose this is disgraceful and must be illegal.’ ‘It’s meant to be a Christian school. ‘It’s a shame the head teacher cares more about making money out of struggling parents then helping out the community.’
Defending the policy, headteacher Denise Gibbs-Naguar said: ‘The Late Collection of Pupils Policy was introduced this week in a bid to ensure all our children are collected from school on time.
‘This is for each individual child’s benefit as well as for the whole school. School finishes at 3.30pm but it is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence to have a significant number of uncollected children still onsite at 4pm. When this occurs a member of staff has to be paid overtime to supervise those children – the school is not able to sustain this ongoing cost without it impacting upon other areas of the school budget and therefore on the children’s schooling. Additionally, pupils who are collected late often exhibit signs of anxiety and distress as they don’t know where their parent/carer is and worry that something may have happened to them. ‘Clearly this is not something anyone wants a child to experience.’