With over 10 million children attending schools every day, security is a vital issue that cannot be overlooked. If you are not already aware of the state of security in your school, it is recommended that you undertake a thorough risk assessment, considering both the immediate and long-term use of the facilities.
Risks to a school will vary depending on a variety of factors such as location, size of the premises and opening times. Thought should be given to access control, including: vehicle and pedestrian access, number of access points, emergency access and exit, and automated access control.
In higher risk areas, some schools may be vulnerable to criminal activity such as arson, vandalism, and break-ins. Intruders will always look to take the fastest and least resisting line to gain access to a site, which is why well planned perimeter fencing, together with CCTV and other security systems can reduce the risk of these events occurring.
Schools are designed to encourage learning and aesthetics play a big part in setting the tone and projecting the image of the school. While the purpose of boundary fencing is to restrict unauthorised entry and exit into school grounds, care should be given to its appearance to ensure that it is fit for purpose in a school environment.
The style of fencing should meet a school’s desired security and safety requirements as well as matching the school’s character and values; security fencing which is attractive as well as functional will help overcome any concerns of creating a prison-like environment and promote a sense of well-being. Security experts Secured by Design recommend that perimeter fencing should be 2 metres in height and constructed using vandal resistant and robust materials such as tamper proof fixings.
Here’s a list of things to consider when planning perimeter security for schools:
Avoid overly-aggressive security measures that could imply that the premises is at risk which could make it a potential target for crime.
While popular in many rural areas and village schools, fencing such as Cleft Chestnut or Post and Rail should be avoided as a form of perimeter security as it offers little resistance to potential intruders.
Bushes, trees and foliage should not be used in lieu of a fence, however, when combined with fencing they are an effective way of creating ‘screening’ to reduce lines of site into classrooms or playgrounds.
Chain link and steel palisade, while commonly used, can be easily penetrated or damaged using basic tools and should not be used in schools which are at an increased risk of criminal activity.
The ‘open door’ policy of schools often makes them a prime target for abuse of access. Effective access control ensures the movement of people, assets and vehicles is managed, monitored and restricted in and around education sites, minimising security risks.
When planning the access points to an educational site, the first thing to think about is the number of access points required. These access points should provide a clear and direct path to the main reception to avoid pupils, visitors and parents from entering areas which may be unsuitable or potentially dangerous, such as car parks or bin stores.
In the interest of safety, main access for vehicles and pedestrians should be kept separate where possible and should be clearly indicated using signs and road markers. All access controls must work in conjunction with any fire alarm installations to ensure a speedy evacuation of the site if required and emergency services access is not restricted.
Where gates are automated, it is important to ensure they are installed safely, CE marked and compliant with EU Directives and installed by fully trained and qualified installers. Once installed, automated gates should be kept well maintained and undergo regular maintenance by qualified personnel.
In addition to security, sustainability is an increasingly important issue in schools; not only does this mean protecting the natural habitats that are essential to our survival, but also ensuring that products are sustainably sourced. When specifying fencing and gate systems, look for best value over lowest price – it is typically as disruptive, damaging to the environment, and costly to install a cheap fence with a short guarantee , as it is a high quality alternative. Over a 25-year period a poorly made fence is likely to need replacing twice.
All Jacksons’ fencing systems whether constructed from timber, steel or a combination are designed to last and deliver the lowest whole of life cost. They are also backed by industry leading 25 year guarantees which give you the additional reassurance that you’ve made the right choice.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore spoke at the BETT Show, reiterating the government's commitment to education technology and working with industry to create solutions that address some of the challenges in education.