Lollipop crossing staff recruitment freeze reports 'alarming'  - Durkan MLA

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has criticised the Education Authority following reports of a freeze on recruitment of lollipop crossing patrol staff.
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The Derry politician warned that while he is ‘acutely aware’ of the budgetary constraints currently facing the Education Authority, “we can’t put a price on children’s safety”.

Mr Durkan has also taken aim at the reduction of staff in this area over the last several years. He claimed this move undermines current initiatives to boost activity while commuting to schools.

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“The Education Authority, by stealth, has been reducing the numbers of crossing patrol officers outside schools across the North via an overly stringent assessment process over a number of years. In doing so, they are putting at risk our children’s safety when going to school.

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“In my view, little forethought has been given to the detrimental consequences of this move. At a time when efforts are being made to promote more active travel; from cycling or walking to school initiatives and establish safer routes to school, the freeze on crossing patrol staff is in complete contradiction to those aims”, he added.

A spokesperson for the Education Authority (EA) responded: “Our team of School Crossing Patrols (SCPs) will continue to provide support to over 350 schools across Northern Ireland, however the recruitment of temporary and permanent SCP posts will pause.

“As School Crossing Patrols are not a statutory duty of the EA, where a SCP leaves post the site is assessed to determine whether a permanent replacement should be recruited. We can confirm SCP assessments are conducted in line with Road Safety GB School Crossing Patrol Guidelines and the EA’s School Crossing Patrol Scheme, which was introduced to provide a more consistent and transparent approach to how this service is managed across the EA.

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Schools are encouraged to follow road safety guidance which is available on NI Direct, as well as reinforce the parents’ important role in their child’s journey to school.

“The safety of children and young people remains our highest priority and we will continue to work with schools to promote safe travel to and from school.”