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A Guide To School Security & Safety

In order for your staff to do their best work and ensure that your pupils have an enjoyable and rewarding education, you need to ensure your school premises are secure.

Of course, most of your buildings will contain pricey but invaluable equipment that’s difficult to replace, so you must ensure everything is secure while your school is unoccupied. But you also have to make sure your school security will stop trespassers from gaining access to your premises while classes are in session.

Here at Bradbury Group, we’re experts in securing all kinds of sites, and have helped plenty of UK schools to increase their safety and security. So, if you’re looking to upgrade your current solutions, or you’re involved in the building of a brand-new school that’s been designed from scratch, we’re going to take you through the best school security options to protect your premises, staff, and students. We’ll cover:

What are the most common school security problems?

Before you decide what kinds of security solutions are going to benefit your school best, you need to consider what the biggest threats are. These can differ slightly depending on certain factors, such as your location, but we’re going to take you through some of the most common school safety and security problems that most establishments will come up against.

Burglaries

In order to teach a lot of school subjects, your teachers will need access to a range of expensive equipment, including computers, interactive whiteboards, and televisions. This can make your premises an obvious target for thieves who are looking for valuables they’re able to sell on. Of course, your school will be most at risk of burglary when it’s unoccupied, so this means you need to think very carefully about how you’re going to protect your school on evenings, weekends, and during school holidays.

Not only do you want to put security solutions in place that will stop someone from getting away with your equipment if they try to steal it, but you also want to deter would-be burglars from even giving it a go. This will help to prevent damage being caused to your buildings, so it’s well worth looking into how you can show opportunists that trying to break into your premises would be a waste of their time.

Vandalism

There’s also the risk that people will target and damage your premises, just for fun. For example, you might have experienced your school windows being smashed, graffiti being sprayed onto your walls, or your grounds being ruined. So, it’s not enough to simply secure your actual building against thieves: you’ll also want to secure your school’s perimeter to prevent troublemakers from even making it onto your premises. This should include everything from the school yards and fields to your staff car park.

Trespassers during school time

When parents drop their kids off at school every day, they’re trusting you and your colleagues to take the best possible care of them. And, you also have a duty of care to your staff. This means you should be doing everything in your power to keep them safe throughout the school day, and a large part of this is ensuring unauthorised people can’t gain access to your premises.

As a result, you need to ensure the perimeter is secured, your buildings all have high-quality security doors, and your staff are trained to deal with trespassers if they do come across one.

Cyber attacks

In this increasingly digital world, we all need to be taking steps to improve our cyber security. And, this is especially important in schools where children and young people are only just learning about the power and dangers of the internet. To protect your networks and ensure that your pupils aren’t exposed to inappropriate or dangerous material, you’ll need to use a virus guard and could also implement parental controls to manage what your students can access.

How to improve your school security

Now that you know what kinds of problems are going to pose a threat to your school, you need to think about how you’re going to deal with them. While every establishment will have slightly different needs, there are some tips that will apply across the board. Here are a range of school security ideas that will help to solve some of the most common school security problems you’re likely to have.

Carry out a risk assessment

As we’ve mentioned, every school is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all security solution to improving school security. As a result, it’s incredibly important that you carry out a risk assessment to determine what kinds of areas you need to focus on.

It’s a good idea to create a risk assessment template that you can then use to assess your school safety and security on a regular basis. This should help to highlight what dangers pose a particular risk to your establishment. For example, are you at a great risk of vandalism and burglary, or people trespassing during school time? Filling in this form will give you a better grasp on which of your existing school security measures need to be upgraded.

Whether you find that your perimeter fences aren’t keeping intruders out, you’re not sure if your staff know what actions to take in response to security incidents in your school, or you simply want to know where you could invest some extra money to keep your pupils safer, we’re going to explain everything you need to do here.

Secure the perimeter

You should be able to avoid falling victim to a lot of physical security threats by thoroughly securing your school’s perimeter, both during school time and when your premises is unoccupied. This will involve making sure that nobody unauthorised is able to access your car park, school field, yard, or buildings. Effectively securing your perimeter will also help to prevent pupils from leaving your premises without permission.

We would always recommend having one main school entrance, so it’s much easier to keep track of who is coming and going. If there are currently multiple gates leading onto your premises, consider getting rid of all but one, and make sure you also check the perimeter for any gaps in your fence, which people might be able to use as an unofficial entry point.

Once you’ve decided where your main entrance is going to be, you also need to think about what kind of gate you’re going to have. According to a report from Jacksons Fencing, 10% of schools currently have no gate, while nearly half (45%) only have manual gates. This is quite surprising at a time when we’re all embracing more and more technology. There are lots of different electronic gates on the market, from those that are controlled by PIN codes, swipe cards, or even remotely on demand. These will give you a lot more control over who can easily gain entry to your school and will also solve one of the most common issues, which is people forgetting to lock school gates once they’ve been closed.

The height of your perimeter fence might depend on your risk assessment, and how high risk your location is. We would recommend a minimum of 1.2m, but you could even increase this to 1.8m if you believe your school is particularly vulnerable.

Install security doors you can rely on

If someone does make it over or through your perimeter fence, and they’re looking to gain access to your school’s buildings, you’ll want to ensure the doors you’ve installed make this as difficult as possible. As a result, it’s important that you opt for security doors that have been manufactured with the aim of stopping determined burglars and intruders in their tracks.

Here at Bradbury Group, we have secure communal doors that are ideal for use in school entryways. These are all LPCB certified and Secured by Design, which means they’re ideal for use in buildings where security and safety is paramount. If you order from us, our expert team will also fit your doors for you, so you can ensure they’re installed correctly.

For schools in high-risk areas, we also have certified security doors that might be more suitable. All of these have been extensively tested, and there are those that will protect your buildings from opportunists, as well as doors that are designed to withstand more serious attacks. For example, our M2M2 doorsets will offer protection against hand drills, junior hacksaws, and claw hammers, while the likes of our M2M3 and M2M4 doors will survive an attack with a gas torch, scissor jack, or pad saw.

It can also be a good idea to install internal security doors, as this will help to compartmentalise your buildings. As a result, if someone does manage to gain access to your school, this should help to keep them contained to one area, which will limit the damage they can do. Our range of certified steel doors is great for this, and also includes certified fire doors that will make your building safer, as well as more secure.

Provide staff with the appropriate training

School security guidance from the Department for Education stresses the importance of having security policies and plans in place, so staff know exactly how to react to certain situations. But, it’s not enough to simply send out an email to let everyone know what they need to do in case of an emergency — you also need to give your employees training around this, so you can be confident that they’re prepared.

All of your staff should be aware of what school safety and security procedures they need to follow if certain incidents occur, they should know exactly where their nearest emergency exit is at all times, and you should outline exactly when it is and isn’t appropriate for them to contact the emergency services.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require you to appoint one or more competent persons to oversees health and safety in your workplace. And, as part of this, they should be responsible for matters of school security. This will include putting any necessary school security protocols in place and ensuring all of the relevant people are aware of these.

They should also ensure that all of the appropriate preventative security measures are in place, and that staff have a clear idea of what they’re supposed to do in an emergency. The UK government has emergency planning and response advice, which will help your school to decide how everyone needs to respond to an emergency on your premises or on an educational visit. This is well worth reading and passing on to those responsible for your workplace’s health and safety.

Practise emergency action plans

Once you’ve made all of your staff aware of their responsibilities if a security incident does occur, we would recommend passing some of this information onto your school’s pupils. In an actual emergency, it might be difficult for a teacher to explain everything to their class, so it makes sense to ensure they’re prepared ahead of time. Of course, we hope your students never have to deal with a security issue, but it’s important that they know the best course of action if they do.

Make sure all of your students are always aware of their nearest emergency exit. And, if there are any specific types of incident you’re particularly worried about, you might want to give them a chance to practise your emergency action plans — much like you will with fire drills. For example, is there somewhere your pupils should congregate if there is an intruder on your school’s grounds? If so, let them know about this, and take them through the steps of what they should do in this situation. Then, if something does happen in the future, they’ll be well-prepared. It’s a good idea to do this for any protocols you’ve put in place.

What will the future of school security look like?

Over the next few years, it’s very likely we’ll see technology play a much bigger role in school security. We’re starting to see more institutes embracing the likes of automatic gates that can be opened with PIN codes and swipe cards, and we expect this to continue. But we also believe this technology will continue to get even smarter. For example, it’s possible that artificial intelligence (AI) will start to play a part in school security. Whether this is through facial recognition software that controls school entranceways, or smart security cameras being able to alert staff when an unauthorised person is spotted on the premises, this is only going to make schools much safer.

It’s likely we’ll generally see more institutes taking more of an interest in their security, too. While the UK certainly hasn’t had to deal with the increasingly serious incidents that we’ve seen across the pond, the news of these emergencies is highlighting how some schools have grown complacent. And, as parents become increasingly worried, Britain’s schools are having to take these concerns seriously by taking steps to up their school security standards.

If you manage or work for a school, parents are trusting you to keep their kids safe, and you need to take these responsibilities as seriously as possible. Whether you’re employed by more of an old-fashioned institute that could use some updates, or you’re helping to design and build a brand new school, the tips in this guide should help you to put all of the necessary security solutions in place to keep your staff and pupils safe.

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Read about our relocation, the M2MGO express steel doors, and the recent addition of Liddle Doors to the Group in the latest issue of Building and Facilities News.

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