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Call for better school playground supervision

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Call for better school playground supervision

A CALL to make sure every primary school in the region has designated playground supervision has been made - after a series of ‘serious’ incidents at schools in Annandale. Dumfriesshire.

MSP Oliver Mundell is calling on the council to re-introduce a playground supervisor to every school, big or small. Since the start of this academic year, only schools with 50 pupils or more have allocated playground assistants to watch over children at break and lunch time.

However, Mr Mundell has flagged up two “serious” incidents in mid Annandale where by achild broke their leg in a playground, while at another school, there were reports of a member of the public making inappropriate remarks to pupils over the school fence.

Both are said to have happened at unsupervised playgrounds. Meanwhile, the MSP has also met with concerned parents at Hottsbridge Primary in Waterbeck, where supervision was axed at the start of the year.

After hearing their worries about pupil safety and security given the school’s rural location outside the village, Mr Mundell wrote to the council’s Director of Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning Colin Grant asking him to meet the parents and see the issue first hand.

Following a ‘disappointing’ response this week, the MSP said: “The refusal to meet with concerned parents is deeply disappointing and ill judged given that the safety of pupils is in serious question.

“Given the very legitimate worries about the isolated rural location of Hottsbridge Primary School and the incidents we have seen elsewhere; it is just not good enough to enforce a blanket policy.”

He added: “No matter how many pupils our schools have, the council have a duty of care towards our young people and at the moment I have serious reservations over whether or not that duty is being fulfilled.

“I very much hope that Mr Grant will reconsider his position and take the time to look at the facts on the ground and listen to parents.”

A spokeswoman for Hottsbridge Parent Teacher Council said: “We have grave concerns about the council’s decision to remove playground supervisors from small schools.

“Why are our children less important and entitled than those at larger schools? Surely their safety, as that of all children, should be paramount. We will continue to press for answers on this matter.”

In response,a spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “There hasn’t been any change in policy relating to playground attendants.

“Schools with fewer than 50 pupils don’t have allocated playground assistants. It is for head teachers to decide how to deploy support staff in schools.”

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