Schools have a legal Duty Of Care towards their students, and are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children under Section 11 of The Children Act (2004).
As part of this, schools should ensure that children are protected from threats to their health and wellbeing - includes guarding against the dangers posed by members of the public.
Access control systems are a highly effective way to help protect children against threats. In this article, we will explore the advantages that access control systems offer to educational settings, and outline how they can be used to their fullest potential.
How Do Access Controls Work?
Access Control Systems grant or deny access to a site through an entry point by identifying personnel - typically by using a key card, fob, or PIN code.
By installing an access control system, schools can ensure that only authorised personnel can enter school grounds. This greatly reduces the risk of trespassers entering the school site through the main points of entry, such as the school gates and staff entrances.
However, access controls are not a ‘cure-all’ solution, and should be integrated with other security measures - such as CCTV, video intercoms, and fire alarm systems - to achieve comprehensive security coverage.
Preventing Unauthorised Access To School Grounds
Trespassers on school property can present a wide range of risks to the health and wellbeing of students and members of staff. These include:
Assaults on staff
Theft and burglary
Unauthorised traffic causing road incidents
By preventing unauthorised personnel entering school grounds, schools can reduce these risks to the safety of their students and staff.
However, it should be noted that trespassers may gain entry through other means - like for example, through the perimeter fencing. As such, access controls should be integrated with other security measures to stop trespassers entering school grounds unnoticed.
Schools should also consider using a video intercom at the school gates to identify the parents and guardians who are picking up and dropping off students. This will help them to verify the identity of all visitors before they are allowed on-site.
Creating A Digital Log Of Site Visitors
The access control system keeps a digital log of who has been on the school site, where they went, and when.
In the event of an emergency on school grounds, admin staff can check this log to assess who has entered the site, the areas they have accessed, if they have departed, and when they left. This information can then be provided to the emergency services as evidence.
For example, if a child goes missing from school grounds, the school can check if they were on their own at the time they disappeared, with an authorised parent or guardian, or whether they were abducted by an intruder.
However, it should be noted that trespassers - especially those with an intent to harm - may not enter school grounds through a monitored access point. Therefore, access controls should be paired with an effective CCTV system.
While schools keep a register of students attending the premises, members of staff, visitors, or substitute teachers may not necessarily be accounted for.
In the event of a fire, the access control log can be used for a roll call to ensure that all visitors and staff members have been escorted out of the building safely. And if someone is identified as missing, this information can be passed to the fire services to assist with their safe evacuation.
Schools that are located close to a city centre or main road may find that unauthorised personnel use their car parks as a thoroughfare, which can present the risk of congestion, traffic collisions, and even children being hit by vehicles on school grounds.
By installing access controls at entry points, schools can control the movements of traffic on-site by preventing unauthorised vehicles from entering school grounds.
In addition, by integrating access controls with CCTV and video intercoms, schools can ensure that they have visual access to the number plates of all vehicles on school grounds, enabling them to identify anyone who drives onto the school site without permission.
If your school is unfortunate enough to experience an act of terrorism, you may be required to initiate lockdown procedures to protect the safety of your students and staff.
By using an access control system, you can effectively implement a lockdown procedure by ensuring that offenders can’t enter certain sensitive areas of your school site, while allowing staff and students to exit the premises via safe means. This could potentially save lives in the event of a terrorist incident.
Taking Back Control
Access controls have proved to be a very effective security measure that helps schools to monitor the movements of visitors on-site, stop trespassers entering their grounds, pass information to the authorities and emergency services, manage on-site traffic, and enforce lockdown procedures.
However, they are not a 'cure-all' solution, and should be integrated with other security technologies to ensure the most effective security management possible.
Want to know more about how to do this in your school? Contact us and let’s get started!