Dear Parents 5th June 2017
We have had a few e-mails raising concerns about the school opening on Thursday whilst being a polling station, in light of the recent terrorist atrocities in London and Manchester. I would firstly like to clarify some points:
- As a school, we have no choice in the matter of being a polling station – if we are chosen by the head of Electoral and Member Services then we have to comply.
- The decision to close or remain open isn’t a simple matter of head teacher’s/Principal’s choice. The guidance is that if a school can isolate the polling station (the school hall in our case) from the rest of the school and if access to the polling station does not involve crossing playgrounds or other insecure areas then the school should open. In our case, we can isolate the hall as the internal doors connecting to the rest of the school can be locked, and access to the hall from the outside does not involve crossing any areas where children will be (obviously at drop off and collection times children are going in and out but they are either with parents/carers or allowed by parents to come to school on their own).
- The school has remained open on the last three occasions we have been used as a polling station.
- A risk assessment has been carried out.
Regarding security on the day:
- The polling station itself will have five officers including two who will be primarily concerned with security and surveillance.
- An attendant will be in control of the gate and access to the school during school hours.
- The police will be making regular visits to the school.
- Mr Watling, the site manager, will remain on the premises all through the school day, particularly to monitor security.
- At playtimes and lunchtime, children will be confined to the rear playground.
I have, this morning, consulted with the police to see if they are issuing any advice regarding whether schools in our position should close but no such advice has been issued. Further, I have consulted with the Trust and they are fully supportive of my decision to remain open.
I do understand that there will be some parents who disagree with my decision, however, I would think that were I to close the school, I might have an equal or greater number disagreeing! I know that on this issue, I will not please everybody.
To conclude, I do not believe that my decision is putting children’s safety at any greater risk than at other times we have opened in similar circumstances. In the end, I have to make the best decision I can in the circumstances and that is, I believe, what I have done.
Mr D Ball