Drop off and collection by older siblings
It has recently been noted that parents and carers would like more clarity around the issue of siblings collecting younger children from school and therefore, we offer the following as clarification:
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility to ensure that the child is dropped off and collected by a responsible person if it is not safe for the child to walk home unsupervised. There is no minimum age set in law when a young person is allowed to remain in charge of another child; however it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk. This can include in the care of an older sibling if the level if supervision is ‘likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’ (Children and Young Persons Act). Therefore parents/carers must understand and be prepared to take responsibility for anything that should go wrong in their absence. Parents are also responsible for the care and safety of their eldest child, even while that child is acting in a caring role for younger siblings.
At Gray’s Farm Primary Academy, we allow siblings over the age of 14 to drop off or collect a child providing that the attached permission slip has been completed; however The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the NSPCC recommend that no one under 16 should be left to care for a younger child for more than a short period of time. The school reserves the right to refuse to allow a person between the ages of 14 and 18 to take responsibility for accompanying a pupil to or from school should we have any concerns about that person’s suitability to do so. The suitability of a sibling, or other young adult, caring for a younger child will be considered on a case by case basis, by making a judgment of the potential risks of this arrangement; the maturity of the child collecting/being collected; the length and nature of the journey home, the behaviour and relationship of the children collecting/being collected.
It is known that, when parents supervise their children, it reduces the chance that a child will be injured. However, when older siblings supervise younger children, there is an increased risk of injury.
The idea behind the research was to explore why the risk of injury to young children increased when they were supervised by older siblings. The researchers found that mothers were more likely to spot and remove hazards, whereas older siblings were more likely to interact with the hazards in front of the younger children (for example, an older child may make themselves a hot drink and put it within reach of a young child, whereas the mother would be more likely to keep hot drinks well away from toddlers).
It is well known that younger children tend to copy their older siblings - and indeed, this was found to be the case during the study. Children also behaved in a more risky manner when they were supervised by a sibling; however, their sibling babysitters were less attentive to that risk than their mothers would be. The problem was compounded by the fact that young children were less likely to listen to their siblings when asked to stop risk taking. In conclusion, the researchers found that both the behaviour of the younger children and their supervisors contributed to the increase in injury risk when older siblings supervise younger ones.
Excerpt taken from “Please keep an eye on your younger sister”: sibling supervision and young children's risk of unintentional injury: Injury Prevention, August 2010
If you require any further clarification, please do not hesitate to come and talk to a member of staff.