Mums’ anger as five-year-old boys escape from Portsmouth school

ON THE RUN Joshua Potter, left, and Frankie Clark got out of school.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (110183-3)
ON THE RUN Joshua Potter, left, and Frankie Clark got out of school. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (110183-3)

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WORRIED mums are calling for tighter security at their children’s school after two five-year-old pupils were found wandering around busy streets during their breaktime.

Paulsgrove Primary School pupils Joseph Potter and Frankie Clark managed to climb over a 4ft fence at one end of the school’s playground before going out through an open public gate.

Staff followed the pair as they ran along the pavement of Cheltenham Road, Paulsgrove, but they alerted police and the children’s mums after losing sight of them.

The area was searched for almost an hour until Frankie’s mum Sapphire Clark, 28, spotted them playing along the pavement of Ludlow Road. Both children, who were unharmed, were then returned to school.

Mrs Clark, of Walsingham Close, Wymering, said: ‘I am really upset about what happened. I can’t believe that the school allows the gate to be open during breaktimes. I’m demanding that it improves its security.

‘I expect my child to be in good hands when I drop him off for school every day. Anything could have happened to him. What would stop my son doing it again now? He now knows how to get out of the school.’

The gate, on Cheltenham Road, is not part of the school and it is open throughout the day for people visiting a library service and two children’s centres, which are run by the council.

The 4ft fence separates the school from this area. Joseph’s mum Marie Potter, 30, of Paulsgrove, said: ‘My son could have been run over. It was the worst day of my life. You can imagine what a young child is thinking when he sees an open gate.’

Andrew Olive, headteacher at Paulsgrove Primary, will meet with the school’s chair of governors tomorrow to discuss whether a bigger fence needs to be installed. Risk assessments could be carried out to prevent similar incidents happening and more staff have been put in place to keep an eye on children during playtimes.

Mr Olive said: ‘Two small children put themselves in a dangerous situation. They didn’t just walk out of the school. They scaled a 4ft fence. We will look into how we can ensure children are kept safe.’

A spokesman for Portsmouth City Council said: ‘We will monitor the gate but it will be difficult to shut it at points of the day because people regularly stop by to use the library and children’s centres.’