Don’t Fence Me In?
I recently received some information about Queensland schools that I thought was very surprising. This information came from some members of the public who contacted PeakCare expressing their concerns about the absence of any legislated or administrative obligations requiring schools to be fenced.
This was a surprise to me as I could not recall having ever seen a school that was not fenced, but I was assured by this couple that at least one such school exists and it is located within close proximity to their home. Moreover, this school adjoins a public park accommodating the usual range of park facilities including public toilets and a recently constructed school hall. Correspondence sent to the couple by the Department of Education and Training confirms the lack of any legal or other requirements to fence school properties.
Are you also surprised by the above information? Does it raise concerns for you similar to those that were reported to PeakCare?
It may not be possible – or even a good idea – for schools to be equipped with the type of security fencing needed to prevent all unwanted entries into or exits from school grounds. However, at the least, it would seem that even a basic level of fencing would serve a useful purpose in delineating the boundaries of school properties and assist in supporting the practices of schools in discouraging unauthorised entry onto their properties, children leaving the school without permission and, of even greater concern, unauthorised persons removing children from the school grounds against their will.
Especially when a school adjoins an “open space” such as a public park, it would seem that even a basic level of fencing would stop many children, very young ones in particular, from wandering from the school yard and make life much easier for the teachers and other staff members who are charged with the responsibility of supervising the activities of children during lunch and play periods.
It seems understandable that parents as well as other community-minded individuals and organisations with an interest in the safety of children might wish to raise concerns about unfenced schools with the Department of Education and Training. PeakCare intends doing so and we will look forward to receiving the Department’s response.
If you as an individual or your organisation has a viewpoint about this matter, please feel free to enter a comment below or forward your comments to us via email.
Executive Director, PeakCare Queensland