Do schools have an obligation to provide car parks?
No. There is no legal entitlement to parking space on school premises. The NEU would argue, however, that it is good practice to make space for staff car parking available wherever possible for several reasons:
- particularly in rural areas where public transport is patchy, teachers tend to rely on their cars
- teachers commonly require vehicles to convey books and other resources to and from their place of work
- prohibiting staff parking on school premises merely shifts the problem to adjacent streets, creating safety issues for pupils and congestion problems for inhabitants of neighbouring properties.
If you have no car park, you may want to raise these issues with your school representative and consider a campaign if appropriate. Where car parking facilities are available, priority should be given to disabled and pregnant staff especially where space is limited.
Can a charge be made for parking?
There is no entitlement to free parking either in school premises or other car parks. However, for the reasons given above, schools do not generally charge staff to park in their own car park.
Where a charge is levied, we would normally expect disabled teachers, pregnant teachers and peripatetic teachers to be exempt from car parking fees. Peripatetic teachers by definition, apart from their journey to and from their ‘base’, are not travelling to and from one place of work. Instead they are undertaking business travel which is necessary for the performance of their job. Consequently this should be treated as expenditure arising as a consequence of business travel which should be reimbursed by the employer. Part-time staff should be afforded a reduction in charge on a pro rata basis (unless the fee system is based on a ‘pay and display’ hourly rate).
Should school car parks be closed to parents’ vehicles on safety grounds?
This is a matter for risk assessment but many schools now choose to limit access to their car parks to staff and visitors only. This is as a result of concerns regarding pupil safety in car parking areas and the school’s duty of care towards its students. Where this occurs, it is common practice for car arrival and departure to be limited to certain times such as before the arrival and after the departure of pupils in the morning and afternoon.
Should school car parks or site entrance/exit gates be locked at lunch time?
This would effectively prevent staff from leaving the school premises during their lunch break but the lunch break cannot be included in the 1,265 hours of directed time. The school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD) states that teachers cannot be required under their contract of employment as a teacher to undertake mid-day supervision and “must be allowed a break of reasonable length”.
The NEU’s view of “a reasonable length” is that teachers should have an entitlement of at least one hour for lunch during which they cannot be required to remain on the school premises and should be free to leave. This is not, however, a legal requirement.
If the decision to lock the car park gates was taken for safety reasons eg to separate pedestrians and cars or as a measure to prevent pupils from leaving the site, it is an overzealous response.
The solution would be to restrict pupils from the area and install automatic gates which can be operated by staff with a security code. If this is not viable, the gates should be supervised by premises staff to allow the free exit and entry of all employees during their lunch break. It is also essential that the emergency services have access to the school site at all times.
What happens if someone is injured in a school car park?
If a child or any other person is accidentally injured by a member of staff or visitor driving in a school car park, the driver would be held responsible in the ordinary way if, by lack of reasonable care, injuries were caused to another person. Motorists would have their own insurance cover and an employer would not be expected to accept any responsibility just because the car was proceeding to a parking area which was on the school premises.
Regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that every workplace “shall be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner”. People and vehicles should therefore be kept separate. Speed limits/speed bumps/one-way systems may be necessary. Car parks should also be well lit for safety and security reasons.
What happens if my car is maliciously damaged?
Where a school has not adequately supervised pupils and a member’s car is damaged maliciously as a result, the school will be liable. The school should offer an ex gratia payment, as recommended under appendix V of the Burgundy Book (conditions of service for school teachers) for example.
Members and school leaders should consider whether malicious damage to or theft from a vehicle should be reported to the police.
Does my insurance cover me in the school car park?
In their own interests, teachers should always maintain sufficient insurance cover on or off the public highway. The union itself does have a personal possessions insurance scheme providing cover up to a maximum of £500 with £25 excess for the cost of repairing malicious damage to members’ private motor vehicles (including accessories) while on school or college premises. This enables members to protect their no claims discount for small malicious damage claims by not claiming on their own insurance policy.
I want to do my bit for the environment - what about provision for bicycles?
Again, there is no obligation on schools to provide cycle racks but in the interests of the ‘green’ agenda - and that of promoting health lifestyles - there are very strong arguments for the school to make such provision available, both for staff and pupils.
Furthermore, members’ pedal cycles are covered as part of the union’s personal possessions insurance scheme. This is a collective policy against fire, flood, theft or malicious damage on school premises. Please see NEU Insurance for further information.