Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Schools seek end of polling duties

school polling station
Image caption Schools across England have lodged submissions asking to be removed from the list of polling stations

Scores of schools have sought to be removed from polling station duty because of the "disruption" caused, it has emerged.

Under election law, schools can be forced to act as polling stations.

Those managing elections say the reluctance of schools to act as polling stations has been a "challenge".

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said concerns ranged from safeguarding to parental anger at closures.

Schools - which account for about one in ten polling stations in England - have made representations asking to be removed from polling station lists across the country.

Image copyright Tendring District Council
Image caption Returning officer Ian Davidson said he would be as helpful as possible to schools not wanting to be polling stations but warned they were sometimes the best place for voters

Peter Malcolm, of the NAHT, said: "Pressures that schools have come under have created this climate of uncertainty and of fear, where people don't know what to do for the best.

"There has been a move over time not to use schools but use other locations."

He said some schools had safeguarding concerns about letting the general public on to their grounds while children were inside.

Returning officer Ian Davidson, chief executive at Tendring District Council, said he had encountered reluctance from schools to be polling stations.

"Traditionally we use schools because they are 'go-to' places, but there has been in increase in pressure on them over performance and from parents.

"We try very hard to be as helpful as we can."

Alternative locations had been found for a number of schools, he said, but sometimes schools were the only locations which met the needs of voters.

Great Clacton Junior School asked to be freed of polling station duties because of the "disruption caused to parents and pupils". It was turned down because of problems with the nearest alternative.

Image caption In Brighton and Hove, five schools have been removed from the list of polling stations

In Brighton and Hove, five schools have been dropped from the polling station list, leaving 14 schools out of 128 stations.

Penny Thompson, Brighton and Hove City Council's chief executive and returning officer, said: "We have reduced the number of schools being used as polling stations so as many children as possible are in school on election day.

"Only eight schools are closing for the day on 7 May. In each case, the decision to close was taken by the headteacher based on the individual circumstances of the school."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites