Published: 06:00, 15 January 2020
| Updated: 08:16, 15 January 2020
A school has sparked anger after introducing a policy of fining parents if they're late picking up their children.
As part of new rules at Holy Trinity School in Gravesend, parents and carers will be fined £1 every five minutes per child if they fail to pick their kids up by 3.40pm - although the penalty will only come into force they've been late three times.
The new policy also states the school will contact social services if a child isn't collected by 4pm, and if parents cannot be contacted children will be admitted into the care of the local authority.
But some fear the extra cost and threats will punish less-well off families who are struggling to cover basic costs already.
"As parents of the school we were shocked and appalled to receive this notification from the school," said an anonymous parent.
"Gravesend is a deprived area and many parents struggle to work due to the cost of childcare.
"Lots of schools finish around the same time and this means that it is a struggle to get kids on time.
"The school used to let kids wait in the library then we were told the library was closed for refurbishments.
"The school did offer an after school club a couple of years ago but this was closed by the head teacher with little notice because it didn’t make enough money.
"The letter says that if kids aren’t picked up by 4pm the school will ring social services.
"We think the fact that the governors have agreed to impose this is disgraceful and must be illegal."
They added: "It’s meant to be a Christian school.
"It’s a shame the head teacher cares more about making money out of struggling parents then helping out the community.
"The school is due to join the same trust as St Georges and I hope this is not something they will support."
Head teacher Denise Gibbs-Naguar said: "The Late Collection of Pupils Policy was introduced this week in a bid to ensure all our children are collected from school on time; this is for each individual child’s benefit as well as for the whole school.
"School finishes at 3.30pm but it is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence to have a significant number of uncollected children still onsite at 4pm.
"When this occurs a member of staff has to be paid overtime to supervise those children – the school is not able to sustain this ongoing cost without it impacting upon other areas of the school budget and therefore on the children’s schooling.
"Additionally, pupils who are collected late often exhibit signs of anxiety and distress as they don’t know where their parent/carer is and worry that something may have happened to them.
"Clearly this is not something anyone wants a child to experience.
"As of Monday afternoon (January 13), I had not received any correspondence from parents/carers about the policy, but I always encourage families to contact me if they would like to discuss anything."