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School safety - how to protect students and staff

October 30, 2019

School safety - how to protect students and staff

School safety is a responsibility many schools take seriously. Violence in schools and other educational establishments is a risk staff and some students face. Knife related violence, particularly among London and other inner-city schools is a real concern.

Apart from the risk of physical violence, schools should also protect students and staff from other risks such as theft or fire. A school secure from intruders and burglars also makes learning fun and safer.

This article discusses some of the measures schools must take to maintain school security. Contact Fire and Security offer customer service and technology led solutions to help in achieving safe and secure learning environments for students and staff.

Fire safety awareness for school security

Head teachers are responsible for fire risk assessments in schools. Unsupervised areas of the school such as cloak rooms and corridors pose a risk to students in the event of a fire. Most schools excel at providing adequate systems and processes for managing fire risk.

A fire alarm system is the first line of defence, offering early detection and warning in the event of a fire. A specialist contractor must maintain the system. Periodic checks ensure all the devices work as they should.

Students should take part in regular fire drills to make sure they know the routes to follow when there is a fire. Testing the fire alarm system weekly ensures manual alarm activation points are functional. It is a legal requirement to keep the records of such tests.

Schools must report any outbreak of fire to the local fire service, no matter how small. An emergency response plan must be in place to coordinate all stakeholders in the event of a major fire in a school.

Other measures to improve fire safety in schools include:

  • A zero tolerance against students bringing matches and lighters onto school premises.
  • A robust risk assessment of activities which involve heat sources such as cooking or science classes with appropriate control measures to manage the risk.
  • Conducting regular student fire awareness activities with students involving the fire services.

First Contact Fire and Security offer technical help in the design, installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems, including detection and suppression systems. Get in touch with Contact FS today if you feel your fire risk assessment is not adequate and arrange a site visit.

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Enhancing school safety with access control systems

Schools benefit from access control solutions due to the number of students walking onto school premises every weekday. Access control systems help schools manage school safety by granting access to authorised staff and visitors. Anyone without a valid pass is denied access.

These systems can take various forms, with simple ones involving security personnel checking passes and ID cards. Automated RFID, smart card, PIN pad and swipe card systems use identification devices and associated software to open doors upon presentation of the correct credentials.

Access systems are not only effective on primary entry or exit points. Other applications include managing the movement of staff and students within the school site. Examples include:

  • Restricting student access to administration areas to protect confidential records.
  • Controlling movements to restricted areas such as utility plants rooms and basements.
  • Preventing visitor access to the wider school premises e.g. contractors working in one part of the building do not need access to the entire school.

Turnstile systems also help schools manage the flow of people by limiting entry to one person at a time. Access control solutions using smart cards can also be used as payment systems for onsite vending systems as they are personalised and unique to each individual.

With so much at stake and the technology so complex schools need specialist support to design, deploy and maintain access systems. Contact FS work with a growing number of schools and can help you choose the right system to meet your security needs.

CCTV solutions for schools

Unlike intruder alarms, CCTV systems often play a proactive role as a deterrent for crime and other anti-social behaviour. This is why CCTV solutions play an important role in securing school premises and helping to protect staff and students from harm.

There is not as much objection to perimeter camera monitoring which protects school premises mainly from external threats. But when it comes to classroom monitoring there may be some form resistance in some circles.

At the end of the day, ensuring staff and students are safe in school is the responsibility of the Head Teacher. Any reasonable measure which helps to achieve this goa is worth considering. Here are some situations which CCTV in schools helps to tackle:

  • The abuse of staff
  • Bullying among students
  • Smoking and drug taking in schools
  • Theft and damage to school property

Most schools which have CCTV cameras report fewer false fire alarms. Facility managers can confirm the location of a triggered device to see if there is a real fire. If not, they can tell the alarm receiving centre to stand down the fire service.

The benefits of CCTV cameras in schools go beyond the safety and security aspect. In classroom video footage is an excellent teacher training tool. Some schools improve attainment levels when they introduce CCTV cameras in classrooms.

Cost is always a factor when considering deploying CCTV systems. Modern IP cameras use the existing computer network, reducing installation costs. This also makes it possible to locate cameras in more locations.

Not all providers have the skills to integrate fire, CCTV and access control systems. More so when the systems are from different vendors. Contact Fire and Security have the expertise to bring all your systems to work together. Manage safety simpler by creating a safety and security umbrella for your school.

Are you looking to improve school safety and security but not sure where to start? After reading this article you may already know there are improvement to make. Contact Fire and Security have extensive experience in the systems and technologies covered in this article.

You can learn more about the different solutions available to help make your school secure by visiting here today.

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