When you are taking care of the younger generation there is an expectation that you will do everything you can to protect them, which is why it's important to have the correct security measures in place. Of course, we are confident you are doing all within your ability. You should put in place a security policy that:
- identifies the likelihood of a security-related incident occurring
- assesses the level of impact
- develops plans and procedures to manage and respond to any threats
Here is a list of 10 security considerations that we feel all schools should invest in to help you put strong security plans and procedures in place to help you respond properly and quickly to any possible threats your school may encounter.
What communication systems do you have in place for a crisis situation? Do you have staff mobile phones or handsets in classrooms? It's important to consider having these things in place in case of an emergency (e.g medical emergencies).
If mobile phones are considered a safeguarding issue in your school you could also consider alarms for distress. These aren't just fire alarms but can be distress alarms and silent alarms. When picking an alarm you should consider; where will it be heard, by who and whether it's tested on a regular basis, as some panic buttons may tell you who is being attacked but not where.
You need to think of the best way for you to communicate in an emergency; sometimes it’s a combination of various communications channels. It’s also best to take various scenarios into consideration. What's appropriate in the case of fire may not be in an aggressive intrusion attack.
2. Access control
One way to keep students and staff safe when they're on the premises is to limit the flow of people by using access control. This could be as simple as using a digital card swipe system on every entrance or area that needs to be secured. For example, you can also pair up an access card or fob system with turnstiles to control who can enter the building. Access control cards/fobs are easy to make and assign which is great when you have lots of people needing access to a building. Access control cards can also double up as I.D. and can take attendance of who arrived at the school at what time and who has left which means less work for teachers and saves time in the event of a fire. (read more here)
You need to have clear signage highlighting what to do in an emergency, emergency exits and if you are monitoring by CCTV. Most of these are legal requirements which will have specific dimensions to comply with, too. These are likely to be installed when the alarm or security system is installed unless there are adequate signs already in place.
4. Secure the perimeter
One of the easiest ways to protect students, staff, and property is to secure the perimeter. You should ensure that the school has no easy access points. You should consider doing perimeter checks to make sure that there aren't broken fence panels and to make sure all of the security is working and hasn't been tampered with. Adding access control and intercoms to reception areas, or adding drop arm barrierss and palisade fencing are some of the most popular security tactics for educational facilities.
Palisade fencing is one of the most common ways to secure the perimeter of a school as it's one of the cheaper options, durable, and hard to climb.
Getting a security gate that requires a keypad/swipe card entry to access will make staff who need to get in early/leave late feel secure in the building and keep people from entering without permission during school hours. However, we appreciate you may not be able to have them down at the core arrival/pick-up times (read more here).
Some people can be hesitant towards implementing CCTV in a school for safeguarding reasons, however, it has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve security. Before installing CCTV on school premises, you need to be clear as to why you want it. This is because you will need to notify the ICO of why you want CCTV before the installation can happen (read more here).
Some reasons you may want to consider installing CCTV:
- Deterrence from crime
It is important to think about the placement as cameras and their cables could be prone to attack.
6. Security lighting
During winter, it gets darker earlier so it is always a good idea to have security lighting outside. You can have it installed along footpaths, playgrounds, or car parks to ensure everyone stays safe, especially staff that leave late.
Additionally, security lighting should also fall into the design considerations for CCTV implementation, e.g. flood lights that are triggered by infrared detectors.
You should always know who is on the premises, especially visitors. The likely route for legitimate visitors would be through the reception area where you can sign them in and give them an I.D. card and ensure they are accompanied to the relevant area.
8. Data access
Your data should be accessible in everyday life but what happens if you experience a power cut, perhaps right in the middle of an emergency? Do you have access to all the student’s records and registers?
You can get an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit which means you can still work or access your records on the grounds. Alternatively, you may want to consider how to access your records externally to the building.
9. Educate staff and students on the emergency procedures
As with fire procedures, it is important to educate all who will be affected. It’s a good idea to review and remind them on a regular basis, perhaps each term as you are likely to have new staff or students.
Additionally, some schools like to give their students and staff the chance to input on these procedures. (read more on fire alarms)
10. Risk Assessments
The first thing to do when looking at security is to complete a risk assessment. It will outline the level of cover you need, help you create a plan of action and will tell you what you need it to cover to keep your building, staff and pupils safe. They should be reviewed in detail when significant alterations are made to a school’s premises, for example, if an extension is built. You should also consider how to inform your staff, students and visitors about what to do in an emergency, and carry out drills and training exercises.
Reviewing your security measures?
We can come to your school, assess and identify key security measures needed against those security measures in place.
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How to justify any security costs
Think about how much a trespasser or a theft could cost you. Let’s say it was isolated to the computer lab with 30 laptops, you’d have the cost of replacing them, repairing where they entered, and the time and cost of clearing up any other damage.
It could also mean a non-financial impact, especially if it happens more than once:
- Damaged reputation
- A fall in enrolment of students
- Lower morale among staff and students
- Disruption to learning, especially if it is a loss of equipment.
Want to know more about how to improve your security? Book a free audit using the form.
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