Operation Safe Home

Operation Safe Home was developed to help improve the system of children exiting the school at home time. Due to an increase in students attending the school and a rise in the number of road safety incidents occurring at this time an action plan was put into place .We currently have 497 pupils and expect to have over 500 pupils next Sept. The boy’s school is located within 300 metres of the girl’s school and has similar numbers. There is therefore a very high volume of traffic particularly in the evenings. The entrance to our school and the footpath are both very narrow. The school is located across the road from the entrance of a busy community centre. The pedestrian crossing is located here. There have also been a number of incidents of children been pushed off the footpath on to the main street due to pedestrian traffic congregating on the narrow footpath outside the school entrance.

The aim of the project is to increase the level of road safety so all children can exit the school in a safe and calm manner. We wanted to increase awareness of road safety to all road users both pedestrian and drivers. The project is aimed at all pupils of Scoil Chlochair Mhuire, their parents and guardians ,and all staff members of Scoil Chlochair Mhuire.

We started this project in Sept 2011. The Project Team consists of Nora Moran (Principal) Marie Crowley (Teacher & Green Schools Rep), all other members of the teaching staff (25) and Ann Cull the lollipop lady. The Principal creates a rota for ‘Operation Safe Home’. A total of 5 teachers are needed to stand at Posts 1-5, every day at home time and will stay there until all pupils have safely been collected. All other teachers will escort their class to the appropriate lines. All members of the project team communicate with each other well. We have regular staff meetings and discuss if any changes need to take place. Our partners in this project vary from the local Police to the Parent Association. The Green School Committee helped increase awareness of the project in school . We approached the local Police for advice on the matter and for some extra traffic cones to help alleviate the problem of parking and general congestion at the school entrance. The Parents Association in the school also gave us financial assistance to purchase extra cones for this purpose also. The RSA(Road Safety Authority) kindly provided high visibility vests for all children in the school. A local sign company made a walking and crossing sign for us to help the workings of filter system in Operation Safe Home

At 2.30pm teachers on duty for that day will go to their posts wearing a high visibility vests so they are easily recognisable.( Post 1: Open side gate , Post 2: Open main door , Post 3: Intersection where all paths meet up filter all children into Walking line or Crossing line, Post 4: Top of these two lines, Post 5: School Gate) All other teachers escort their class to the filter lines at 2.30. There are two lines A: Crossing the Road B: Walking (Not crossing, walking on the footpath on school side).The teacher at Post 4 & 5 will control the pedestrian traffic leaving the school. The crossing line moves first, the teacher at the gate signals to the lollipop lady to stop the traffic and the children will walk across the road in a continuous line to their parents who now wait for them across the road in the car park in the community centre. When this line is gone the traffic is let go and the children who are in the Walking Line will all exit in a line and meet their parents on the footpath away from the school gate. There is little disruption to traffic and children are all safety across the road. This system can be rolled out in any school regardless of size. A smaller school may only need two teachers to filter the children into lines. Once there is a plan in place to cater for the numbers and co-operation and communication with all children, school staff, parents and all other road users this system will work very effectively.

Evidence of Outcomes: Children are much more relaxed leaving school because they are familiar with the system and they know they are safe. Ann Cull our lollipop lady addresses all children at assembly at different points throughout the year in relation to ‘Operation Safe Home’. Therefore all children have an increase awareness of the importance of road safety. It is also a much safer environment for children due to the decrease in congestion at the gate. We got very positive feedback from parents who found the system very effective and safe. The traffic clears much faster than before even though our numbers have increased. All children have exited the school safely in under eight minutes. Local businesses have complimented the system as it means the traffic can flow on the street and customers can park up outside businesses and shops. Most importantly we have increased road safety awareness as we have greatly reduced the number of road safety incidents occurring when the children are leaving the school.