Sometimes no matter how hard you try not to be, you’re late for school pick-up.
For some the sight of their child’s forlorn face is enough to bring on an attack of the guilts, but one school has introduced a new policy that will see parents fined one pound for every five minutes they are late picking up their children.
Holy Trinity C of E Primary, in Gravesend, Kent introduced the new rules this week to try to tackle after-school lateness, and will target those picking up their children just ten minutes late - anytime after 3:40pm.
The move, which will reportedly also see teachers calling the authorities if pupils aren't collected before 4pm, hasn’t gone down well with all parents, with some claiming the policy punishes less well-off families already struggling to cover basic costs.
One parent, who did not want to be named, said: “As parents of the school we were shocked and appalled to receive this notification from the school.
“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.
“The school used to let kids wait in the library then we were told the library was closed for refurbishments.
“The school did offer an after school club a couple of years ago but this was closed by the head teacher with little notice because it didn’t make enough money.”
The parent claims the letter sent to parents says that if children aren’t picked up by 4pm the school will ring social services.
They go on to say the policy makes them feel the school cares more about making money out of struggling parents than helping out the community.
The school claims the fine isn't just a deterrent for lateness, but crucial for covering the costs of paying teachers who need to stay late to look after pupils.
Head teacher 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.”
Ms Gibbs-Naguar went on to say that the school hopes the policy will also help reduce the stress felt by some children when they are picked-up late.
“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,” she explains.
“Clearly this is not something anyone wants a child to experience.
“As of Monday afternoon, I had not received any correspondence from parents/carers about the policy, but I always encourage families to contact me if they would like to discuss anything,” she adds.
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The introduction of the late pick-up policy follows a school in Melbourne, Australia that recently announced it has started fining parents who pick their children up late.
This isn’t the only school policy that has caused controversy of late either.
Last year one school’s decision to ban all drinks other than water from pupil’s packed lunch boxes came under fire from some parents.
The move was reportedly made to facilitate pupils with allergies and to limit the consumption of sugary drinks, but some parents were left unimpressed by the school’s new approach.
Another primary school banned parents from using mobile phones in the playground.
The move was introduced after the school’s headteacher spotted parents were too engrossed in their phones to engage with their children when picking them up from school.
Meanwhile, it was also recently revealed that a primary school in the UK has banned school holidays, allowing parents to take their children out of school for six weeks whenever they want.
And back in 2018, a school in the US hit headlines after they introduced a dress code for parents picking children up at the school gates.