Parking buddy signage at the roadside

Parking buddies are making it safer for children at Rushden Primary Academy to get to and from school thanks to a £5,000 grant from Northamptonshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC).

Rushden Primary Academy applied for funding from the PFCC’s Road Safety Fund to improve the safety of their pupils after various minor incidents and near misses outside the school, particularly at drop off and pick up time.

Staff from the school have observed cars parking inappropriately, mounting pavements, causing obstructions, pulling away without due care and attention and passing the school at speed.

The parking buddies are child shaped pavement signs, designed to encourage parents, guardians and other motorists in the area to think and be considerate when driving and parking outside the school gates and in the surrounding roads.

The new signage, which is set out by the school gates in the morning, has been welcomed by parents with comments such as; “The parking buddies are a visual reminder to parents in cars to make room for those of us walking,” and “I know that no one solution will remove the problem of inconsiderate parking and driving, but the parking buddies along with the lollipop sign and the posters and banners have been a fantastic first step to making our school safer.”

Headteacher, Miss Lindsay Edwards is pleased with the positive impact the road wear is having in the immediate vicinity of the school but knows there is more to be done to raise awareness of the issues. She said: “The funding we have received has enhanced the area outside of school greatly. We have been able to create a crossing for the children using the parking buddies, meaning that we have a clear space without parked cars where the children can cross safely. In addition, we were able to buy and erect safety banners and other signage around the school.

“We still have lots to do around education and petitioning the council for road markings, but the fund has already improved safety for the children.”

The school also ran a competition to design a road safety poster and this week (4 December) Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold joined a school assembly to present the winners with certificates for the best posters. The messages from the winning posters will be used on more banners and signage outside the school.

Stephen Mold said: “I was delighted to visit Rushden Primary Academy and present six pupils with certificates for their road safety posters. Pupils have been focusing on road safety as part of last month’s Road Safety Week and the poster competition was one of the activities they got involved with.

“Parking around schools is often raised as an issue from both the children’s safety perspective and in connection with access for emergency service vehicles, so supporting these sorts of initiatives is of great importance to me in my work to keep the residents of Northamptonshire safe.”

Applications for funding are welcomed from any school, charity or non-profit organisation from across the county. There are three grant schemes available – The Road Safety Fund, Small Grants Scheme and Making Northamptonshire Safe Fund.

More information and detail on how to apply can be found on the OPFCC Website.