RECKLESS parents are risking lives with their dangerous parking on the school run, headteachers are warning.

Drivers dropping off and picking up pupils at Oxfordshire schools have been rapped for stopping on double yellow lines, zig-zag lines, blocking dropped kerbs and stopping in the middle of the road.

Several heads across the county - as well as a police officer - have circulated letters this term urging parents to stop parking unsafely.

And the problem has got so bad that pupils at Oxford's Windmill Primary School have now created their own makeshift tickets, which will be slapped on the windscreens of poorly-parked cars to shame drivers.

Principal Lynn Knapp said road safety had become 'really awful' at the Headington primary, adding: "It's a really narrow road and parents are concerned about people dropping off on double-yellows.

"It creates a real hazard for people using the street, particularly cyclists."

This month pupils at Windmill started Walk to School, a national scheme run by charity Living Streets, which encourages children to travel by foot.

Mrs Knapp noted it was a minority of drivers who put pupils in danger, but added: "If everybody did what they do, it would be absolute chaos. They create havoc for road users, even if it's only for 30 seconds.

"It's worrying that children are getting out into the middle of the road - it's so dangerous for everybody."

At nearby Cheney School in Headington, a student was hit by a car in September while meeting a parent parked in Warneford Lane.

Rupert Moreton, who recently took over as the secondary school's head, wrote to parents stating: "This is one of many incidents over the last couple of years. We are deeply concerned by this issue.

"Some parental parking leads to their son or daughter attempting to cross from the school gates directly into oncoming traffic."

He told the Oxford Mail safety was the school's 'absolute priority', adding: "It is the responsibility of students, duty staff and road users around the school to take extra care and be vigilant.

"Ideally all our students would make their way to school using public transport, walking or cycling."

The student hit was not significantly injured, the school said.

Littlemore resident Rina Melendez, whose daughter is in sixth form at Cheney, said: "It's not what I usually do but I must confess that on occasions, I have stopped outside for my daughter to jump out. I know it puts people in danger, although I am extra careful.

"We are all part of the problem and none of us have an excuse. I do feel guilty. We have all done silly things, but we can correct our behaviour."

She said her family favours cycling but, on days her daughter is dropped off instead of tackling the 25-minute ride, they now park on safer roads nearby and walk the last stretch.

The 48-year-old said: "This obsession with leaving them right in front of the door is absurd.

"Oxford is a pretty ancient city with narrow roads not designed for the kind of luxuries we are demanding."

But she said many parents are 'scared' for their children to walk or cycle due to the danger of traffic, opting to drive and instead piling more pressure onto the city's polluted streets.

A parent at St Gregory the Great Catholic School in East Oxford, who asked not to be named, said he had witnessed 'many near misses' outside.

He said exiting and entering the all-through school in Cricket Road was 'total hell', adding: "Cars are parked on the road and pavement on either side, creating blind spots."

The father said some drivers seemed 'totally oblivious' to signs at the school banning people from parking on yellow lines, and said he was shocked by 'extremely excessive' speeding.

The issue is not particular to city schools, with nearby villages also suffering.

Helen Atkinson, headteacher at St Swithun's Primary School in Kennington, sent a letter to parents this month describing parking problems as a 'perennial subject'.

She pleaded for parents not to drive in, adding: "If you have no option, please park a distance away from the school and walk the last bit."

School parking is such a concern that even police have intervened.

Police community support officer Sue Haynes, who patrols villages near Abingdon, wrote in a community newsletter this month: "You are putting your own and other children at risk when parking on corners, blocking dropped kerbs and parking on yellow zig-zags outside schools."

She said she would continue dishing out fines as a deterrent.