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HELP!


flowlow
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Hi all

 

I am not sure if this is the right place or if it should be in the policy and procedures section of the forum, but I need some advice.

This is quite a long story so will try and be as concise as possible.

We run out of a memorial hall. in the past parking has been a real issue the primary school is about 100 yards up the road and does not have adequate parking. As a result pre-school parents, teachers and TA's for the school and parents dropping off for the school would use the car park. We had numerous complaints over the time that pre-school parents couldn't park and school parents were often parking and driving irresponsibly to the point where we had near misses with children, staff and parents often.

The other issue was we have two car parking spaces one at the back of the building one at the front. Now there are massive signs on the building saying no parking at the front and that has always been the case for over 30 years but people ignore it. we have been granted the right to play at the front of the building, we have removable barriers that can be placed at each side of the building to stop children going to the back of the building and cars are supposed to park at the back only. We have explained until we are blue in the face that if a car is left at the front of the building it becomes a hazard and potentially effects children being able to access and outdoor provision (this is the only space we have) also when parents park in front of the shed it makes it hard and dangerous for staff to get the barriers out and the toys.

There is a gate that is shut and padlocked at the front to keep it secure during pre-school hours. there is a sty to one side with a removable barrier so that the children can't get out and a separate access in/out through the park and the back car park.

So that is the history and our setup. Now since September the hall committee said they would like the gates padlocked by 9.15 as all parents should have dropped off by then. They want all pre-school parents and school teachers to have permits for their cars to prove they have permission to park at the hall to help cut down some of the traffic. Since this time most parents can park and we have felt the whole car park is safer we have had less complaints about not being able to drop off and we have seen less close calls. However it has caused lots of bad feeling as parents who could park and now aren't allowed to have had complained etc, but there is a village carpark 5 mins up the hill so they are alternative options.

Today I go to work and I have one complaint about the gate being locked as this according to the parent is a health and safety risk and emergency services can't get in. This came about because without any contact with us at all she arrived late at 9.30 and the gate was locked, she had the pram and baby with her so couldn't go over the sty and therefore felt no one could let her in so she had to take her son back with her. Now she does have a mobile she could have phoned to say she would be late or come let me in she chose not to and has chosen to make a health and safety issue out of it instead. Essentially if we do not padlock the gate children could squeeze through the gap that the chain leaves or easily get the chain off the gate. Although initially it was at the halls request and we have been asked to do it by a certain time, the padlock makes it safer for the children when out playing. the fire point is at the other end of the building and there is another exit out so we would never be trapped if we couldn't get to the key in case of fire, we have been told by the fire service that the padlock is not an issue if they needed to get in they would just cut the chain off and if you needed an ambulance we would be waiting here with the gate open for the ambulance to arrive and be directed in so again not a problem. She is still not happy.

Another parent is threatening to report us to Ofsted as she couldn't park and being asked to park at the back of the building means she can't leave her baby in the car. She said there is not enough space for parents and she feels victimized and humiliated at being pulled up on parking at the front of the building. The lady from the hall committee has said maybe they could double park if they need to as they should only be about 10 mins picking up, but she feels this is not acceptable as her example was her baby has bronchitus so if he started to cough and she needed to get him to the doctors 10 mins would be too long! She claims that her son (who she allows to run off a lot) has been nearly run over several times since she has had to park at the back of the building. The parents complaining the most are the ones that want to leave smaller children in the car while they pick up. Both these parents are saying they will withdraw their children as well as report to Ofsted.

Now most of this has happened between parents and hall committee so some of it I am only just hearing about although I was aware that there was some disatisfaction. I think the lady from the hall committee has been given a hard time and feels she has had to repeat herself many times so what started out as being said 'nicely' maybe has got a little blunter.

The parent who made the complaint did say today that it wasn't so bad but has gone away with our risk assessment and to make a written complaint and copy it to ofsted.

I spoke to Ofsted who said the car park is not an issue they would follow up, children are in parent control until they enter the building and are left in our care and they pointed out we are doing our best and some settings have no car park at all.

However I just feel overwhelmed by it all, it seems a small thing but on top of other issues it is almost an issue too far. Lastly this parent informed me that another parent was going to report the parking to Ofsted and he is on our management committee. He has not spoken to me properly about it and in fact was abusive to a staff member and swore in the pre-school on a day I wasn't there because he had to take his younger daughter out of the car and park at the back of the building rather than leave her in the car at the front. (the fact that you still cant see your car at the front once you step in the building is nether here nor there). He hasn't come to me and to think rather than as the management committee trying to help he is stirring the parents up and reporting us! I feel speechless.

The initial parent said the car park contravened many of Ofsted's health and safety guidelines but I cant see how I have looked and looked. The only issue I did agree with was that if parents still cant park then maybe we need to ask the teachers and TA's to park elsewhere as they are not using the pre-school.

AAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! why oh why do I do this job!!!! I have been off sick and this was my first day back I just want to go sick again.

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Oh - poor you - I feel your pain I really do......

The way I see it - the Hall Committee have a perfect right to ask that the gate be padlocked and if it's safer for your children then all the more reason to do so.......and as you rightly say the Emergency services would gain access if needed........have you explained that to this particular parent?

Babies being left in cars is one of my least favourite things - there was a case a couple of years ago - you may remember when a car caught fire with a baby strapped inside - mum was in a shop or bank or somesuch......

I'm so glad to hear that you have spoken to Ofsted - hopefully you feel reassured by their response.

We can't 'run scared' of being reported especially for things that are completely beyond our control.

Not sure any of that helps - hope it does a little bit - if you can - put your feet up this evening and try and forget about it all :1b

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tell the parent who wants to leave her baby in the car while she comes in to drop off that you are happy for her to report you to Ofsted....in fact, give her their phone number and email address.Ofsted will not back a parent in this position. You are locking the gate to keep the children safe. However, check where your fire assembly point is in relation to all this car parking malarkey and your play area. If the children are safe....and you are happy that they are safe, thenthat should be the end of the matter. Any parent who cannot see that their child's safety is more important than car parking is, imho, a fool

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Ofsted WILL NOT uphold complaints about car parking....it has nothing to do with them i know because we had a parent complain to our inspector who gave her rather a short answer! (we got outstanding!) We have no parking on site and it has also caused us some issues but i have worked around most problems and new parents are told the rules before they apply for a place (then it's their choice!)

Do you have links with your community wardens or police? If so can i suggest you ask them to pop in for a coffee and have a chat with your parents...they will make the rules quite clear. People are essentially lazy we have 2 car parks in the village but my parents always want to stop outside the gate! (blocking everyones entrance!)

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I would put out a letter. State clearly the reasons why the gate is locked, that it wasn't your decision but you agree with it and having spoken to Ofsted, risk assessed the issue of emergency entry and your fire assembly point, you are happy for this new arrangement to stay :)

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maybe they also need reminding it is illegal to leave a child alone in a car...

http://www.itv.com/thismorning/hot-topics/is-it-ever-ok-to-leave-your-kids-alone-in-car-debate

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2556301/PC-branded-disgusting-leaving-son-car-minutes-says-TV-star-Laurence-Fox.html

 

seems even when paying for petrol it is an issue... how many of us do that!

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i would call a meeting with all the parents explaining the situation, the reasons why, the safety of their children etc and ask if they could think of any other solutions to the problem "as we are all here to ensure your children and happy and safe " - kind of a thing !

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thank you all for your support. Since I wrote this I have had two complaints via email and neither of these are from the person who said she would complain. I give up!!!

Honestly! :o I agree with Rea some people obviously have far too much time on their hands and not a lot else to worry about

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