Security is a major concern for most schools. The main concern is unauthorised entry. At the same time, schools also have to protect against students leaving without permission. Fortunately, many security measures will protect against both risks.
Here, Newgate, specialists in secured access solutions share their tips on essential school security.
Guard your perimeter
Most schools have an outer perimeter around a play area. Keeping this secure is often the single most effective security measure any school can take. Ideally, only students, staff and authorised visitors should be allowed past it during school hours. Even parents/carers should be kept outside it as much as possible.
If at all possible, vehicular access should be kept entirely separate from pedestrian access. If that’s not possible, then there needs to be enough separation between vehicles and pedestrians to keep both safe (particularly the latter). If even that’s not possible, then the safest option is to ban vehicles from entering school gates at opening and closing times.
This means that regular staff who come by car will need to arrive before and leave after student drop-off and pick-up times. Most, if not all of them will probably do this anyway. Other staff and visitors will either need to do the same or arrive after drop-off time and before pick-up time.
Use different access-control solutions
Schools have used gates since they first began and for good reason. Gates are still a great option for controlling vehicular access. In fact, they’re now even better than they used to be. Firstly, they are now available in sliding versions as well as swing ones. This means that they can now be fitted into tighter spaces than before.
Secondly, they now come in electric versions. This means they can be operated automatically and/or remotely. For example, regular staff can be given access fobs. Site visitors can request access from reception or security. In either case, the gate can be opened without someone having to go outside.
Gates can be used to control pedestrian access but they aren’t always the best solution. Turnstiles may be a better option, especially in tight spaces. These could be coupled with narrow gates or rising-arm barriers to allow access for cyclists but not motor vehicles. Other options include (rise-and-fall) bollards and road blockers. These are fairly niche in school environments but can be useful sometimes.
Use CCTV strategically
Schools have to be very careful (meaning sensitive) about their use of CCTV. Using it to monitor your access points is, however, perfectly reasonable. You just need to ensure that the cameras stay focused on the school grounds rather than the public highway.
The catch to this is that you may only be able to pick up on intruders once they have passed your outer perimeter. This is exactly why you need to have robust security at the access points to the main building too. If you have any additional buildings (e.g., temporary classrooms), these also need to be protected.
It may be reasonable to use CCTV in some areas of the main building. These would typically be either totally public areas (e.g., corridors) or staff-only areas (e.g., supply cupboards).
It is hardly ever appropriate to put CCTV in more private areas used by students, especially toilets. With that said, you could potentially use CCTV in the corridors near the access to toilets. You could combine this with regular staff checks to discourage vandalism and other inappropriate uses of the facilities.
Make sure there is plenty of signage
From a security perspective, signage in schools serves two main purposes. Firstly, it removes the “defence of deniability”. In other words, it stops people from being able to say that they were somewhere they shouldn’t have been because they didn’t know how to get where they should have been. Secondly, they help people to follow the right course of action in an emergency.