Schools and higher education institutions in the UK bear the responsibility of ensuring pupil safety and security whilst on school premises. As threats to school safety evolve, the security measures schools implement should also change to neutralise or manage the threats. Implementing a lockdown procedure is one effective strategy to ensure student safety in the event of a situation that threatens the school’s security.
The nature of threats to school security
Threats to school security take a variety of forms. Security experts recognise the following situations which will commonly affect schools and other education premises. These are:
- Active shooter
- Hostage situation
- Police activity
- National disasters
Active shooter situations may be a common occurrence in America, possibly due to the prevalence of firearms. However, this does not mean schools in the UK do not have to take active steps to ensure schools are safer.
Being proactive in tackling school safety and security risks such as hostage situations ensures school authorities are prepared if such a situation ever occurs. Implementing lockdown procedures will help contain the risk and limit the potential harm to students.
When rioting and other police activity occurs in and around schools, it is crucial to have systems in place to ensure students remain within school premises. Excluding people coming into the schools as well as ensuring students stay within designated areas is also part of school security procedures.
In the event of natural disasters and incidences relating to weather phenomenon, keeping students safe in school is essential as part of any disaster management strategy. Implementing a lockdown helps authorities account for the safety of everyone on school premises.
The next part of the article discusses the different types of lockdown procedures and how you can use your existing security infrastructure and system to implement them.
Making your school secure with lockdown procedures
Implementing school lockdown procedures is a key element to ensure staff and student safety. You should design and tailor lockdown procedures to the different perceived threats the school may encounter. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to lockdown procedures because of the varying nature of the threats against which schools need protection.
Types of Lockdown with intruder procedures
Schools should follow an ongoing process when developing lockdown procedures to tackle incidents that may occur within the school or the surrounding community. Planning should also take account of after-hours activities such as sports clubs or holiday activities.
School lockdowns fall into 3 general categories:
- Partial lockdown (shelter-in-place)
- Full lockdown
- Dynamic lockdown
A school will commonly need to initiate a partial lockdown when there is a potential risk event in the wider community around the school. Also known as a shelter-in-place procedure, the partial lockdown seeks to limit the movement of staff and students by ensuring they stay where they are, or in designated stay-in-place areas, for the duration of the lockdown.
When there is a direct threat to the school or an intruder gains access to the school, the responsible authorities may initiate a full lockdown. Students and staff will follow a pre-planned procedure which may include locking all classroom doors, shutting windows and blinds, people moving away from windows towards internal walls and turning off lights. During a full lockdown, no one is allowed to enter or leave the premises, including visitors. Teachers and other staff will have different responsibilities such as performing a headcount and ensuring everyone is safe.
Some incidents unfold rather rapidly and there is a need to implement a lockdown without delay. A dynamic lockdown approach to school safety is, therefore, a necessity to keep occupants safe and premises secure. A dynamic lockdown restricts access to a building using physical measures e.g. barriers, shutters, automatically locking doors etc.
Implementing a dynamic lockdown can be easy with access to the right knowledge, training and security technology. Extensive CCTV coverage and building access control could mean an operator can restrict an intruder’s movement through a building. They can also protect occupants by ensuring they have no access to areas where the threat is located.
Tips for a successful school lockdown
A lockdown procedure is only as good as its execution. After careful planning and implementation, all the staff and students must be aware of what to do in the event of an emergency.
Having a general awareness of safety and security within the school will also assist in increased security during lockdown situations. For example, keeping all doors locked if not in use, having a pass system for visitors and training staff and students to challenge anyone without a pass.
Staff training, periodic review of procedures and drills are also at the centre of a robust lockdown procedure. Each type of procedure should have a different warning or initiation alarm and students should be able to tell them apart.
Limiting or eliminating outright the number of doors with code locks will ensure no time is lost in trying to remember or keying in the correct code in a hurry. Also, segregating access to certain areas of the site based on necessity is essential to restricting access to authorised people only.
How safe is your school?
Now that you know a bit more about the different types of lockdown procedures, how safe is your school? Do you regularly perform drills to enhance school safety and are your students aware of the steps they need to take when the alarm sounds?
If you think your school could be doing more to implement a dynamic lockdown procedure, perhaps we can help. Dynamic lockdown procedures require a rapid response to secure external and internal doors, restricting movement within a building. A robust CCTV and access control system can help you implement your dynamic lockdown procedure.
Contact Fire & Security design and install bespoke CCTV and access control systems to help you prepare for an emergency in your school. Contact us to find out more about our range of security devices and systems today.