School Road Crossing Assistant

The Job and What's Involved

School road crossing assistants are responsible for assisting and escorting children and adults safely across the road. They play a vital role helping more than 8.3 million children walk to and from school each day. Crossing assistants form part of their local authority's school crossing patrol. In some areas of the UK they are known as 'lollipop' men or ladies.

School crossing patrols are provided at sites where children are in danger from traffic when walking to and from school. Each local authority assesses sites thought to be a problem and uses a nationally approved formula that looks at the number of children crossing the road in relation to the volume of traffic.

Signs and lights are usually provided near a school, warning oncoming traffic that they must slow down. A crossing assistant has a standard reflective stop sign, which is used when the patrol is operational. Some crossing assistants may also be able to benefit from the use of a pelican or zebra crossing.

A crossing assistant's responsibilities cover:

  • Assessing the flow of traffic when they see someone approaching who wants to cross the road.
  • Instructing children and adults that they need to wait on the pavement until they are told it is safe to cross.
  • Waiting for a break in the traffic and then, when the opportunity is right, stepping into the middle of the road and holding up their stop sign for approaching drivers to see.
  • Motorists are legally bound to stop when crossing assistants display their stop sign.
  • When the traffic has stopped, signalling to pedestrians to cross the road.
  • Returning to the pavement when the pedestrians have crossed safely, with their stop sign kept upside down or turned away from the traffic, so as not to confuse the drivers. This process is repeated constantly each session.
  • Reporting to their supervisor any incidents, concerns and problems with their crossing site.

If a crossing point has flashing amber lights, the crossing assistant may switch them on when their duty begins and off at the end of the duty. Other sites have lights that have been pre-programmed and operate automatically. Crossing assistants may be invited into schools to speak with children to help them learn about road safety.

Some crossing assistants may combine their work with other jobs, such as school lunchtime supervisor or school administrative assistant.

Crossing assistants work weekdays during term time only. Dates may vary between local authorities. Their hours of work vary, depending on the school's opening hours.

The morning sessions usually begin between 8am and 8.30am and may last up to an hour. The afternoon sessions usually begin between 2.45pm and 3pm, and again may last up to an hour. Depending on local requirements, crossing sites can also operate at lunchtimes. Some local authorities advertise for job share roles.

Crossing assistants work outdoors in all weather conditions. Employers provide them with a high-visibility protective uniform, which is waterproof, and include a hat, made of reflective, fluorescent material.

Starting salaries for crossing assistants working ten hours a week may be around £2,649 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 11,000 school road crossing assistants. They are recruited, employed and managed by local authorities. There is an ongoing recruitment shortage, and 35 per cent of authorities report problems recruiting for the position.

Depending on its size and geography, a local authority may employ between 50 and 500 crossing patrols. Opportunities are found throughout the UK.

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, school newsletters and on local authority websites. It is also possible to work for a neighbouring local authority. People who are interested in this work may also approach local authorities direct to find out more about the role.

Education and Training

Applicants need to be over 18 years old and in good health. There are no set entry qualifications. It is useful to have some previous experience of working with children and members of the public.

Successful applicants must complete a medical questionnaire and may subsequently be asked to undergo a medical examination and an eyesight test. They will have to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) or Disclosure Scotland check.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is on the job working with crossing patrol supervisors. Areas covered include:

- Traffic movement
- Describing potential hazards
- Accident and incident reporting
- Dealing with aggressive motorists

The national road safety charity Brake works to improve road safety.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A school road crossing assistant should:

  • Have good interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Be approachable.
  • Be reliable and responsible.
  • Have patience.
  • Be good at timekeeping.
  • Be fit and active, with good eyesight and hearing.
  • Be able to work on their own initiative.
  • Have a good understanding of general road safety principles and the Highway Code.
  • Be able to handle problems positively.
  • Be willing to work in all weather conditions.
  • Be able to cope with aggressive motorists.
  • Want a high degree of job satisfaction.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are opportunities to become supervisors or road safety officers, with responsibility for the recruitment, training and monitoring of patrols, reviewing current crossing sites and assessing new proposed sites.

A crossing assistant may also move into another educational role, such as lunchtime supervisor or work for a different local authority.

Local authorities are continually striving to improve road safety and are looking at co-ordinating initiatives such as International Walk to School Week, which may create further job opportunities.

Get Further Information

Brake, PO Box 548, Huddersfield HD1 2XZ
Tel; 01484 559 909
Website: www.brake.org.uk

Local authorities and county councils are responsible for providing information on school crossing patrols in their area. Contact details are available from www.direct.gov.uk

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