School pick-up policy is unsafe, says grandmother

Kate Anderson says her 7-year-old granddaughter is being told to wait, unsupervised, outside the school gates until her transport arrives.

Woodbridge Primary School’s “heartless” policy of having pupils wait outside the gate to be picked up puts young children at risk, says a Milnerton woman who has a granddaughter at the school.

Kate Anderson says her 7-year-old granddaughter was told by her teacher that she is not allowed to wait for her transport inside the school grounds or at the gate, she needs to wait away from the school premises.

The child now stands on the corner of Union and Ceres roads, across from the school, while her transport sometimes arrives 15 minutes late after collecting other pupils from a nearby school, she says.

The school policy was at odds with the spirit of National Child Protection Week, from Sunday May 29 to Sunday June 5, which emphasised the safety, well-being and care of all children, she said.

Once, on her off-day, she had gone to fetch her granddaughter and had seen teachers walking pupils to the gate, but while most of the children had boarded their transport, others had been left hovering around on street corners, she said.

She claimed to have seen several other children, some younger than her granddaughter, standing alone outside the school.

She fears that parents may not know that their children are being left outside the school gate, unsupervised.

“I understand that teachers are still busy and preparing their tasks for the next day, but it wouldn’t hurt just to keep the children in a safe space at the school until their transport or parents arrive,” she said.

She had raised the issue with the school and the principal but been told that the children could not wait inside the school as there was no after-care facility.

Ms Anderson said she would hold the school accountable if anything was to happen to her granddaughter while waiting for her transport.

The school referred all questions to the Western Cape Education Department.

The department’s spokeswoman, Millicent Merton, said the school’s teachers waited with pupils when they were dismissed, but pupils who were not fetched immediately waited at the front office, inside the gate, she said.

Parents were responsible for dropping and collecting their children within reasonable times, she said. “The school does not have an after-care facility and learners cannot be allowed to be unsupervised on the school grounds.”