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Temple Hill Primary Academy calls for drop off zone after spate of near misses outside school gates in Dartford

A school is calling for a drop off zone after a spate of near misses outside the gates and believes it is only a matter of time before a child is hurt.

Temple Hill Primary Academy in Dartford has stepped up its road safety campaign after a sharp increase in motorists mounting the curb in St Edmunds Road.

Parent Darren Povey and his daughter with Temple Hill Primary Academy PE teacher Karen Humphris.
Parent Darren Povey and his daughter with Temple Hill Primary Academy PE teacher Karen Humphris.

Parents and teachers fear someone could be injured, after incidents where youngsters were forced to walk in the middle of the busy street to avoid vehicles.

The school, which has more than 900 pupils, has called for Kent County Council to introduce a safe drop-off zone.

Meanwhile staff have been equipped with walkie talkies to communicate any disruption outside the gates.

On the front line is PE teacher, turned traffic officer, Karen Humphris, who patrols each morning in a high-vis jacket.

She said: "it is only a matter of time before a child is hit."

Left to right: Parent Darren Povey, Temple Hill Primary Academy PE teacher Karen Humphris and a concerned mum.
Left to right: Parent Darren Povey, Temple Hill Primary Academy PE teacher Karen Humphris and a concerned mum.

On some occasions she has been threatened by aggressive parents and police have been called, adding: "I was on the playground one morning when I heard all this shouting and I came out to all this abuse".

"I started on the Tuesday and i've been doing it every day since."

The school regularly works with community support officers and parking attendants but apart from the yellow zig zag lines there are no clear markings.

Headteacher Danielle Egonu believes the existing road infrastructure for the school is simply not fit for purpose.

She said the traffic problem had increased in recent years owing to the town's population rise and with more developments underway it is only likely to get worse.

"The main issue is that St Edmunds Road is the only way in and out of the school," she said.

Parents have been spotted mounting the pavement to drop their kids off. Photo: Dartford Safer Roads.
Parents have been spotted mounting the pavement to drop their kids off. Photo: Dartford Safer Roads.

"It is only wide enough for one vehicle as one side of the road is always taken up with parked cars."

"Should any vehicles meet along the road, they try to mount the curb."

Ms Egonu adds "we rely on the goodwill of the parents," most of which have been helpful in making small but significant changes, such as walking to school, she said.

A pastor at the Baptist Church next door has offered her parking spots to parents which function as a makeshift turning bay when cars converge on the narrow street.

But the school believes more permanent solutions are needed and has earmarked a grass verge as a potential space for a temporary drop-off bay.

Staff say this will allow parents to safely leave their children outside the gates.

Yellow zig zag lines are often abused outside the school gates. Photo: Dartford Safer Roads.
Yellow zig zag lines are often abused outside the school gates. Photo: Dartford Safer Roads.

A petition points to a similar model currently in place at its fellow Galaxy Trust school, Oakfield Primary Academy.

Parent governor Darren Povey began campaigning with Dartford Safer Roads after his teenage son, Dean, was hit by a drug driver on another road.

He labelled the road where his daughter attends school a "disaster" and called for urgent action.

Other residents in adjoining streets have had their driveways blocked in regularly by mums and dads on the school run.

Susan Payne, 54, has lived in Farnol Road for more than 25 years and says "the traffic is getting worse and worse".

The mum walks her child to school and says "sometimes parents park right on the corner," where there is a blind spot for drivers.

Temple Hill Primary Academy pupils have been designing posters as part of a road safety campaign.
Temple Hill Primary Academy pupils have been designing posters as part of a road safety campaign.

Last week Temple Hill Cllr Alina Gaskin wrote to Kent County Council asking for support with the school's request to create a safe drop off zone.

She said: "Going to school should be a happy and safe experience for children, and not a daily obstacle course of dodging dangerously parked cars.

"The dangers discourage some parents from allowing their children to walk to schools, which adds to the problem of more cars on the road, and it also impacts on children's health."

A Kent County Council spokesman said it had not received any requests for a drop off zone outside the school.

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