‘Draconian’ safeguarding criticised by high school

Sandbach High School has criticised the “draconian” safeguarding measures taken by the adjoining leisure centre.
The school’s head teacher John Leigh said staff and pupils were “bemused and baffled” when they came back from their Christmas holidays to find a securely locked door between the school and the leisure centre.
Cheshire East Council said this week that it and Everybody Sport and Recreation Trust, which operates the leisure centre on behalf of the authority, had previously given permission for the school to use a “much safer and shorter route into school via an adjoining link corridor, but that the school “has refused to cooperate” and   that after four months of “frustrating and ultimately fruitless negotiations”, the council had “been obliged” to introduce new access controls throughout the centre for the protection of the schoolchildren and the centre customers.
Mr Leigh showed the Chronicle that the three external doors in the sports hall had been fitted with magnetic locks so that they could only be opened by leisure centre staff.
He also said that the work was carried out over the Christmas holidays and that the school had only been informed two days before the end of term.
Mr Leigh said: “We are all in favour of safeguarding, but the arrangements must be proportionate to the circumstances and putting magnetic locks on the doors to the sports hall is totally disproportionate.”
He felt the school was being “punished” for exercising its right to use the leisure centre entrance.
He said: “One of the contradictions is that they have said they don’t want us using the emergency exits from the sports hall for safeguarding reasons, but then if someone in the sports hall has an accident they will have to be carried from one side to the other to get out. It would be a nightmare.
“It also stops us from getting quick access to the artificial pitches outside because we keep a lot of equipment in the sports hall. We are also going to be unable to open the door to get some fresh air into the hall when it’s warm.”

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