THE safety of pupils at Buckland St Mary Primary School could be greatly improved with the introduction of a security fence.

Railings could be erected to the front of the grounds, while upgrades will be made to the existing fencing to the rear boundaries.

Chartered surveyors Hookway Partnership have submitted a planning application on behalf of the school for the 3.6m fencing which it says will specifically improve physical education activities along with other forms of outdoor learning.

It is planned that the works will be done “sympathetically” and will “complement the traditional aesthetics of the immediate area”.

A spokesman for the school’s governors said: “The boundary security of the school has been a matter of concern to the governors for some time and indeed has been highlighted as a risk that requires mitigation in a report submitted earlier in 2014.

“The governors have discussed the issue and received the proposals.

“The governors are fully in support of the proposals and commitment has been given by the chairman to proceed with the application for funding to enable the scheme to be implemented in early 2015.”

The application documents detail that anti-climb railings and fencing will provide a secondary control measure – in addition to supervision – to help prevent school children from climbing or falling onto the road.

According to planning documents, the school has consulted on “various stakeholders” on the proposals and “consultations are ongoing.”

However, the proposals have been met with some criticism from locals who list among their fears the potential for the playground to be ‘out of bounds’ outside of school hours.

In a letter of objection to the district council, village resident Mr S Albon said: “There is an area of playground equipment within the school grounds and I believe that this equipment was provided and paid for by the community, rather than the school, and that it was intended for the whole community use, not just the children of the school during school hours.

“As neighbours to the school we can testify to the fact that it is used in this way. There is no other amenity for children in the parish.

“Secondly I disagree with the premise that it is in-keeping with the locality.

In my opinion it is not in-keeping, black railings may be suitable for an urban Victorian setting, but not the rural Somerset Blackdowns where the norms are flint or hedges.

“I am curious as to what ‘various stakeholders’ means; from my perspective, the local community has not been consulted by the school.

“I am a parent with two children at the school and am thoroughly committed to this school.

“Although I have no concerns over the safety of my children, I am aware that the staff may wish to improve the security of the site during school hours. But I believe that there are options for doing this without the visual impacts or the loss of amenity and at a lower or equal cost.”

The school was placed in special measures by Ofsted in July and the has been working hard to implement an action plan to improve the standards, firstly under the joint headship of Neroche head teacher Connel Boyle, and now under Redstart Primary head Suzanne Flack.

South Somerset District Council is expected to deliver a decision on the application by February 16.