Concerns raised about possible school charge

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Plans to charge teachers to park at work have been blasted by a Newtownabbey teacher.

Leigh Cooper from Ballyclare, an officer with the Ulster Teachers’ Union, said such a move would be an “insult” to the profession.

She was speaking after a recent move by a council in Wales to introduce teacher parking charges there and by other schools elsewhere in the UK to charge parents a small rate per term to park and pick up or drop off their children.

Leigh said: “That the school is allowed to keep the revenue reaped from charging its staff to park is small comfort to teachers who have been fighting for a fair pay deal. Any such move here would be an insult to the profession.

“With the situation as it is and no government in place for over a year, well, anything in theory could be possible and parking charges could be seen as easy money, a lucrative stream of income.

“In terms of charging parents, that could be equally contentious though I appreciate school drop off and pick-up times can be fraught with difficulties for both parents, pupils and neighbours living beside the schools.

“I know some schools have attempted to have car-free zones immediately around the premises in a bid to make the roads safer for pupils while others are charging parents to park during school run times and anything which improves road safety has to be considered.”

She added: “My fear is many families are already struggling with their budgets and another charge to drop their children off at school could add to pressures.

“I know some public pay car parks beside schools in NI issue free vouchers which parents can display so they have a 10-minute slot in which they can park free of charge, allowing them to lift and deposit pupils and I this seems to work well, alleviating congestion. The only positive to be gleaned from actually charging teachers to park though must surely to be to highlight the financial crisis facing our schools.”