Fears for pupil safety at Carrick Grammar School

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Parents of pupils at Carrick Grammar School say it is only a matter of time before a child gets hurt after the school was left without a patrolman.

In a letter to parents, school principal Kieran Mulvenna warned that as of Wednesday October 1 until further notice, there would be no school crossing patrol at the upper entrance to the school opposite Fulmar Avenue/Oakfield Drive.

Mr Mulvenna said “this is entirely beyond our control and in spite of our best efforts to ensure that the NI Education Authority had a replacement in place” following the retirement of the previous patrol man, whom, he added, had come out of retirement temporarily for September.

The Carrickfergus Grammar head teacher continued: “In the meantime, if your son/daughter must cross the busy North Road please instruct them to use the pelican crossing traffic lights just above Castlemara Drive between the entrances to this school and Carrickfergus College.”

Reflecting concerns for pupil safety, Mr Mulvenna added that the school would be “emphasising the need for increased safety awareness” in school assemblies.

The school told the Times that it had been “reassured that the EA is doing everything in its power to address the continued need for a school crossing patrol”.

Commenting on social media, UUP Councillor and former Carrick Grammar pupil John Stewart said he was “very concerned” at the news.

“The school has made every effort to prevent this situation arising however it seems the Education Authority has not made proper arrangements for the appointment of a replacement,” he stated.

“The contingency plan to encourage parents and pupils to use the traffic crossing further down the North Road is simply not safe or practical in the long term.”

Cllr Stewart added that he had written to the NI Education Authority to insist that a new appointment be made as soon as possible.

East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson said he was “dismayed” at the situation and had also written to the Education Authority.

He added: “I have written to the Education Minister to ensure that the process is accelerated in this regrettable circumstance, and to ensure that such an occurrence does not happen again.”

An Education Authority spokesperson commented: “The School Crossing Patrol at Carrick Grammar School retired at the end of June. The provision of school crossing patrols is not a statutory service. However, the EA is currently in the process of recruiting a replacement to continue to provide this service for Carrick Grammar School.”