HEAVY traffic outside schools in Carisbrooke has caused safety concerns, with one school claiming it was left in the dark over changes to school hours.

Carisbrooke Primary School said it was left out of a consultation by the other two Wellington Road schools, Christ the King and Carisbrooke Colleges.

After the secondary schools changed their hours, all three schools now close within a five minute window, between 3.10pm and 3.15pm — leaving more than 2,530 pupils, aged between five and 18, to converge outside as they wait for buses or a lift home.

Parents have raised concerns about the behaviour of older children around the younger ones.

Carisbrooke College headteacher Matthew Parr-Burman said: "It was always a potential concern. We find it's less of a problem for us because we are further up from the schools and we have fewer pupils, who go two different ways.

"We have increased our staff duties at the end of the day and I went down to speak to concerned parents and look at the situation.

"I didn't see any bad behaviour but it was very, very busy."

Cllr Paul Brading, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for children’s services and education, said the council was aware of the issue.

"We are concerned about it but there are more staff on duty to help.

"This is a short term problem as we believe once the Christ the King College building is complete, the problem will stop.

"But if this is a long term problem, we will look at a plan B.

A Christ the King spokesperson said its building works should be partly finished by Christmas, and completed by Easter.

Interim executive principal Matt Quinn said the college had implemented measures to address the situation, including staggered departure times and using an overflow car park.

"The building work will relieve some of the congestion at the end of the day," he said.

"The underlying issue of the large number of students on a narrow pavement at one time will remain, irrespective of the school departure time.

"Once the building work is completed, it appears the bus bay outside both schools will no longer be required. If this could be made a pavement again, this, along with traffic calming and management, would increase the area for students considerably."

In a letter to parents, Carisbrooke Primary's head of school, Lloyd Watkins, said the decision made by the other schools to change their hours was potentially dangerous — and the primary school had not been consulted.

He said: "This will result in a much busier and more congested leaving time, and potentially making the end of day more difficult and dangerous to negotiate for parents and children.

"We agree with any parents who are disappointed by these changes and would actively encourage as many as possible to contact the schools to complain.

"A strong and large parent voice from Carisbrooke CE Primary would add considerable weight to the formal letters of complaint already sent."

The primary school is now considering changing its own hours — closing at 3pm, to avoid the rush when the secondary schools close at 3.15pm — given 'the lack of response or responsibility' the colleges have shown.