New way to manage and fund school crossing patrols gets go ahead
Posted on: 12 February 2016
A new way of funding and running Devon’s school crossing patrols has been approved by Devon County Council’s ruling cabinet today (Friday February 12).
Councillors supported adopting the new system that will enable Devon’s school crossing patrol service to continue but will also achieve £250,000 of savings.
The recommendations were for the authority to stop funding paid patrols and to transfer the costs to schools and school communities, should they wish to pay for them.
Councillors also approved the use of a company to manage the delivery of the service to schools.
The County Council would continue to provide essential support and training to ensure the service is delivered safely and to the appropriate standard. These measures would enable the service to continue where there is demand.
There are 341 primary and secondary schools in Devon, currently with 102 school crossing patrol sites in the county, 11 of which are already funded by schools or which rely on volunteers.
The proposals follow two consultations since the start of the current academic year, the first where schools were approached through the Devon Association of Primary Head Teachers (DAPH), followed by a countywide consultation.
The countywide consultation received 361 responses from members of the public and 98 responses from 87 individual schools. Of the schools that responded, 56 currently have patrols.
The majority of the public and schools would have preferred to see no change to the current system.
However, today’s decision will mean that schools and their communities will need to decide if they want to retain their patrol once they know what fees are involved.
Setting the fees will now be a commercial decision, taken by a future provider of the crossing patrol service.
In cases where a school chooses not to fund the cost of their patrol, the service would end at that site and the County Council would then look at the potential consequences of removing the patrol and, where necessary, how to limit any potential impact.
“Since 2009, we’ve had to cut our spending by over £200 million due to the Government’s austerity measures. Unfortunately those services which we are not required to provide by law are most at risk as a result of the budget reductions from central Government.
“As a local highway authority Devon County Council has a statutory duty to promote road safety and prevent accidents. The protection of human life is one of the greatest responsibilities we bear and it is therefore very important that we use what resources we have in the most effective way.
“However, School Crossing Patrols can be paid for by the school or the community and it is therefore an area where we can make savings.
“Although this model would require schools to pay some of the costs, the County Council would remain committed to supporting a crossing patrol service by providing training and quality assurance to ensure it is delivered safely.”
Among alternative solutions put forward by schools and the public during the consultation were suggestions of cost sharing, and risk assessments being carried out to ensure patrols were located at only the highest risk sites.
The approved recommendations take on board both of these suggestions. A small budget will be retained to ensure that essential support is provided at no charge to schools and this support will include risk assessments to help schools decide if they want to raise funds for a patrol.
If a service provider can be found quickly, the new system could be introduced in time for the Autumn term of 2016.
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