Hendon headteacher and pupils beg council to tackle speeding cars outside primary school

Senior councillor insists council doing “everything we can” to fix problem at Sunnyfields Primary School but headteacher says they keep “hitting a brick wall”, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Sunnyfields Primary School pupils staged a protest in January
Sunnyfields Primary School pupils staged a protest in January

A primary school in Hendon is pleading with Barnet Council to install speed bumps and traffic lights on a nearby road following a series of accidents.

The headteacher of Sunnyfields Primary School, Lisa Meyer, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service a “number of accidents” had happened at the zebra crossing on Greyhound Hill outside the school in recent years.

One major incident took place in July 2022 on the last day of the school year, when a parent was hit and seriously injured. This was a “real shock” to the school and Lisa said she felt like the site was an “accident waiting to happen” because cars drive down the road “really fast”.

Reccounting another incident, she said: “Once when I was taking the school out, we were having a sponsored run in the park and the children were crossing the zebra crossing. 

“A car didn’t actually even stop, they were trying to push through us, it was very disturbing. They just don’t pay any attention to the zebra crossing.”

Over the last two years the school has held petitions, visited Hendon Town Hall to speak to the mayor of Barnet, and even hosted the police to run a session with children speaking to speeding drivers. 

In January parents and children held a protest outside the school. The children made banners and stood on Greyhound Hill with parents chanting and Lisa said cars honked in support “which was nice”. 

Both children and police officers have spoken to drivers caught breaking the 30mph speed limit. School pupil Hanaan Sherman, aged nine, was present for one of the police sessions and said when the children questioned drivers and asked if they had sped more than once, often the response was yes. 

Hanaan said: “They weren’t really paying attention to the zebra crossing, some people at school, they don’t really feel that safe because of the accidents that have happened.”

The pupil said when children stopped drivers some of them weren’t really “listening”. She said: “They were stopping, going slowly, but at the end of the road they were just going fast again, but also some people honked at us and waved at us.”

She said if she could speak directly to councillors she would ask them for speed bumps or traffic lights because drivers had to “slow down” because people needed to cross the road. 

Explaining how the school talks about the issue with the children, Lisa said they worked hard to develop the children’s voices. She explained the school followed a Unicef UK initiative which encourages schools to place the United Nations treaty on ‘rights of the child’ in their ethos and curriculum. 

The headteacher said staff spoke to pupils on their right to be protected from harm and injury and every child had the “right to be heard”.  She said: “Given this problem with the zebra crossing, they’re really prepared to speak out.”

She said staff were keen to ensure the children understood the part they played in preventing climate change, such as walking or cycling to school, but this issue was holding them back. 

Sunnyfields headteacher Lisa Meyer
Sunnyfields headteacher Lisa Meyer

A council cabinet member has said the local authority will do “everything we can” to tackle road safety outside the school. But following numerous meetings with the council, Lisa claims that because there hadn’t been any fatalities it wasn’t seen as a priority.

The headteacher said: “My feeling is it’s my job to keep them [pupils] safe, they have a right to be safe, and yet they’re scared to walk to school and I want the council to spend the money before an accident happens and not afterwards.”

The school would be satisfied with speed bumps or traffic lights, or both.

But Lisa said she had also been told Transport for London was responsible for making changes to the road, which felt like they were “hitting a brick wall”. 

She said: “I think that they [the council] feel that there’s cost issues and practical issues, they do talk about the signage. There is signage on the roads, lights that flash up. 

“They did get that fixed for us but it’s not quite the same as something that physically makes drivers really notice the speed they’re going and the zebra crossing.”

Alan Schneiderman, cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: “We take road safety in Barnet extremely seriously, especially around schools – so we find this report very concerning.

“We have spoken to the school, parents, and the local community, and we are working to address their concerns.

“We undertook speed surveys on Greyhound Hill during November. We received the survey report at the end of February and our officers are reviewing the options available to us. We will then be making our recommendations about what to do next.

“We want to do everything we can to appropriately address road safety both in Greyhound Hill and throughout the borough.”

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