Headteacher becomes lollipop lady as council will not fund replacement

A HEADTEACHER is having to carry out school crossing patrol duties because Suffolk’s education bosses will not replace a lollipop man.

Tania Johnson, headteacher at Horringer Court Middle School, Bury St Edmunds, is picking up the lollipop and donning a flourescent jacket and boots to ensure her pupils are safe.

The school’s leadership team decided to take the role on a voluntary basis after Suffolk County Council told them they would not be replacing the school’s lollipop man who retired on Friday.

Mrs Johnson said: “We got together and decided it was a crossing that needed to be manned and our premise here is if the children are happy and safe they will learn, so we thought it was important they could safely arrive.”

Now as well as running the school in Glastonbury Road, the busy headteacher doubles up as a crossing patrol warden, taking it in turns with assistant headteachers Donna Higgins and Rita Page and cover supervisor Andy Price.

Mrs Johnson said it was “very important” to have a manned crossing outside the school as the road could get quite busy with traffic going to the hospital, and school traffic itself.

She said: “We are a middle school but our youngest children are only nine and they do need to be seen across and, at the end of the day, children do like to run out of school.”

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Although having to fit in being a lollipop lady with being a headteacher was a “nightmare”, she said it was nice to greet the children. “It’s such a nice exercise to do really. The children were doing double takes.”

Mrs Johnson said the leadership team had agreed to take over the service until March, which is when the county council – which provided the team with training and equipment – has told them the situation will be reviewed.

County councillor Craig Dearden-Phillips, who represents the Horringer Court estate and is also chairman of governors at the school, said “This is a sign of the times we are in when we are forced to use well-paid teachers and managers to help our children cross the road.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson said: “Suffolk County Council appreciates the dedication and commitment of all school crossing patrol staff.

“The service is currently under review as part of the council’s New Strategic Direction and, like all other services, it is subject to recruitment restrictions.

“Where there are changes to crossing patrol arrangements at a particular school we ask the school to inform their parents as ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children get to school safely.”

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