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Students in, intruders out – how to keep a school site secure

Schools aren’t just about education. They’ve also got a duty to keep students safe. Long-established F.H. Brundle, which stocks an extensive range of perimeter security fencing and lock products, gives its top tips on making schools safer places to be.

F H Brundle

We’ve come a long way from the era where the most valuable thing in a school was a chalkboard and some sports kit. Modern educational buildings have become multimedia hubs, full of millions of pounds of computers, tablets, projectors and other state-of-the-art equipment – and for burglars, that’s made them more attractive targets than ever.

But when it comes to security, schools have a lot more than just thieves to contend with. First and foremost, they’ve got a duty of care towards their students – and to protect them from anyone or anything that might do them harm.

And if that wasn’t challenging enough, they’ve got to achieve all of the above without making a school that looks like a fortress.

Bare brick walls and barbed wire don’t make for a particularly pleasant learning environment – and research suggests that clearly fortified buildings actually attract more criminal activity than those that aren’t.

So how do you square that circle?

Perfecting your perimeter

The first place to start, unsurprisingly, is with the school perimeter itself. It’s that more than anything else that’s going to keep staff, students and other building users safe. Conduct a comprehensive audit of the site’s perimeter security. Many schools are old, and funding is limited – it’s possible that whatever walling and fencing was installed originally may have degraded, and now not be fit for purpose.

All school infrastructure has to take a lot of punishment – and if it’s had to withstand decades of teenagers kicking footballs against it, it’s likely that a fence may no longer be up to scratch.

Another useful exercise is to ask site users where they think problem areas might be – teachers, students, ground staff and others all use different areas around a school site, and all could provide valuable feedback.

If part of the site’s existing perimeter needs replacing, the next question is what you should replace it with. Solid barriers were once the norm, but in recent decades there’s been a move away from more forbidding boundaries to solutions that you can see through, and are more aesthetically pleasing.

Products like the Nylofor

3-M offer high levels of security, and are difficult for would-be intruders to scale, while remaining almost completely transparent – perfect for schools and other contexts where you want children to be secure, but also need the environment to still be open and welcoming.

What’s more, it’s been specifically designed to be both cost-effective and quick and easy to install – it can be fitted 20% faster and needs 20% less concrete and posts than other systems of its type.

Our Paladin Classic is another popular choice, thanks to its balance of robust security and pleasing aesthetics, while Roll Top fencing offers a unique and user-friendly design, with a rolled top and bottom edge and no sharp edges, helping avoid accidental injury.

Locks: not to be overlooked

Another crucial step is controlling access to the site and the most critical areas within it. One simple but extremely effective method for controlling who’s permitted on site is an ID badge system. They’re already commonplace in many educational institutions around the country, and easily allow staff to differentiate between authorised visitors and intruders.

But increasing numbers of schools and colleges are now investing in more high-tech access control systems. One of the key challenges around lockable doors in the school environment is the need to keep intruders out of sensitive areas but allow building occupants to quickly and easily escape in an emergency.

Products like the Locinox or Gatemaster gate lock have been designed to allow exactly that – presenting external users with a sturdy lock, but internal ones with a clearly-labelled push pad to allow for speedy egress. Keypad combination locks are also now much more competitively-priced than was once the case, making them an accessible and effective way of securing critical areas of the school site.

Get some friendly guidance

Today, there’s a wider choice of robust, long-lasting and cost-effective perimeter security solutions on the market than ever. For schools, that’s great – but sometimes, the sheer scale of that choice can be a little overwhelming. If you’d like some friendly guidance, talk to F.H. Brundle.

Contact F H Brundle

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