Tuesday, July 06, 2010

London parents let children cycle to school alone - shock

Wonder what ImpDec parents make of this? I'm with the RoSPA guy & Boris.

Note: it's a wealthy area that I know well.


Now No10 backs couple under fire for letting their small children cycle to school on their own
Daily Mail
6th July 2010

The parents criticised by a headteacher for allowing their children to cycle to school were yesterday hailed as 'heroes' for giving the youngsters a taste of independence. Oliver and Gillian Schonrock let their five-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter make the one-mile trip on their own to teach them self-confidence and responsibility.But the couple were warned they could be reported to social services after the school said it was concerned about the safety of the children.

Mark O'Donnell, headteacher of £12,000-a-year Alleyn's Junior School, in Dulwich, south-east London, told them he had a legal responsibility to notify the council if he feared the children's wellbeing was being put at risk. ...

London Mayor Boris Johnson described the couple as heroes as he attacked 'barmy' health and safety rules. 'If Mr and Mrs Schonrock have carefully assessed the route, and considered the advantages and disadvantages, then they should overwhelmingly be given the benefit of the doubt and the freedom to make up their own minds,' he said.

'They have taken the sword of common sense to the great bloated encephalopathic sacred cow of elf and safety and for this effrontery they are, of course, being persecuted by the authorities.'

The Schonrocks' children cycle on the pavement from their home to the school. Their route takes them alongside roads that become busy. At the halfway point, they cross where there is a lollipop lady on duty.

Paul Osborne, of transport charity Sustrans, said: 'Ultimately it is a decision for the parents and they have decided their children are skilled enough to travel under their own steam. 'The key thing here is the safety of the children and they have considered this. 'They have arranged for the children to travel together to let them experience something the parents did as children. 'They are travelling on the pavement, which is acceptable for those under 10, and are crossing with the help of a lollipop lady.'

Kevin Clinton, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said children can develop valuable skills when they are allowed out on their own. He added: 'One of RoSPA's key principles is that life should be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible.

'We believe that children can develop valuable skills for life when they are given opportunities to get out and about to experience risks and learn how to cope with them.'...


Andy said...

Well, ultimately I think it is a decision for the parents to make, but the headmaster is right that he has a legal responsibility to notify the council if he believes the children are at risk. Where you draw the line on what is ultimately a subjective decision is the question (just had a big argument with my wife over this very issue)

My own view as a parent is that, they're mad to let a 5 year old child go to school without the supervision of an adult. There's 'elf and safety' as Boris blusters, but then there's also being sensible about risk. I think there would be other more considered ways to build confidence and independence, and anyway I'd question whether five is the right age to worry about encouraging independence. By the way, my wife believes even more forcefully that the parents were cavalier about the risks.

JC said...

5 years old seems pretty young to ride a bike around London. I think 7 or 8 years old is reasonable. I was skating in my own streets from age of 7 or 8.

I like the phrase "life should be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible"... good thing that not everyone is an idiot.