Our schools should be safe havens, in which our children’s talents can be nurtured without the fear of threats from the outside. While that is mostly the case and malicious attacks on UK schools are, thankfully, a rare occurrence, several incidents have occurred in recent times leading to an increased focus on school security, in particular the effectiveness of school lockdown procedures.
The PSHE Association recently updated their advice to schools regarding emergency planning and protective security advice, perhaps unsurprising considering the Minecraft bomb hoax 1, as well as an incident in 2017 where an angry ex-partner arrived at a school wielding a machete 2. In our increasingly unpredictable world, schools have begun taking the initiative to prioritise their lockdown procedures so that in the unlikely event of a serious incident, they can ensure the protection of students and staff within a facility.
Using access control technology in school lockdown
Access control plays a very important role in ensuring only those with the correct permissions are able to enter a school, or certain areas within it. Today schools require a powerful and dynamic security solution to respond to changing threats, hence why implementing the right technology is crucial.
Essentially an electronic system that replaces the use of keys, an access control system will typically require an individual to type in an entry code, present a card or fob or use biometrics to gain access to specific areas. It is the school that decides who has access to what part of a building and when, and can remotely screen visitors and grant after-hours access without additional staffing costs.
By making the most of the latest IP technology, these systems can be simple to manage and allow users to respond to an incident as it happens, quickly deploying a lockdown procedure if necessary to protect pupils and staff from danger. That said, a system is only as effective as the team managing it, and a recent NW Security whitepaper highlighted how many educational establishments aren’t getting the most from their technology.
Training is key to school security
Our survey found that over three quarters (78%) of respondents said they are actively promoting access control, a hugely positive step. However, there is still much work to be done, as despite 90% of schools having a member of staff responsible for the administration of an access control system, only 51% were trained in security awareness.
It’s all well and good having a system in place, but if the processes aren’t there to manage it, a school lockdown won’t be effective and could leave the site open to intruders, both in the physical and digital space. In regard to the physical, for example, our survey showed that in an emergency 16% of schools couldn’t produce a list of staff and students currently on site, highlighting the critical need for staff training on security systems and procedures. An effective access control system will give the user insights as to who is on site, and where they are expected to be. This information is crucial when a school is put into a lockdown state.
The expertise is out there to help schools make the most of their access control deployments to ensure an effective school lockdown. Our experts can assist not only by implementing the most effective security solutions, but also providing professional training to establish sound access control processes and procedures.
Discover NW Security Group’s professional training services, which will empower your staff to operate access control systems effectively and respond to an incident in real-time.