February 17, 2016
This is the first of a multi-part series that provides 5 important applications that need to be incorporated for robust security and safety at schools. The introduction to the series is: "Blog Series: Access Control in the Education Sector".
There are many ways that a primary school can benefit from an access control system, the most important of these being safeguarding children.
Access control systems can help teachers to provide a safe and friendly environment for their pupils. At the same time, the system can help to safeguard valuables and provide many more benefits to the school.
We have compiled our top five access control applications that are essential to creating safe and secure environment at schools:
1) General Control of Access to Restricted Areas
The principal use of an access control system involves setting appropriate access permissions for students, staff and visitors, so they each have access only to those areas that they need to access, and only at the times that they need to access them. This will allow them to circulate freely without compromising safety and security.
When a card is issued to a user, a record can be set up that contains their details together with the level of access that they have to each controlled area of the school. The system not only controls which areas they have access to, but also the times of day and days of the week that they will be allowed to access them.
In a primary school, cards will only be issued to members of teaching staff, caretakers and cleaning staff. Most of these cards will have validity limited to certain times of the school days when the card holder is on duty.
2) Protecting Pupils and Staff During Lessons
It is essential to address the use of violence by children and parents as well as preventing undesirable outsiders from coming into the school. At the same time, nobody wants their school to look like a prison with high fences and lots of locks and keys. So it’s necessary to achieve maximum security while maintaining a user-friendly, welcoming school climate.
The use of access control can help to provide the necessary protection for students and staff without creating a prison style environment. Furthermore, the pressures on staff to maintain high levels of vigilance can be eased, with the assurance that nobody can enter the building without being formally checked in.
All external doors other than the main entrance can be fitted with an electronic locking system that remains activated during lessons. Fitting card readers for entry and push-buttons for exit will prevent intruders from entering the premises while the children are in lessons without affecting the use of those doors for emergency evacuations.
Teaching staff can use their pass cards to enter the premises in the course of their duties. Outside of school hours, the doors can be ‘locked-down’ where only senior members of staff have access.
The main entrance can be fitted with an electronic locking system together with an intercom so that visitors can be attended to by the administration staff. A door release button located in the administration office can be pressed to allow visitors into a reception area for vetting. From there they can be allowed into appropriate areas as necessary, through access control protected doors. In some cases, once visitors have been vetted, they can be issued with a temporary pass card.
Where student violence is a problem, staff room doors can be fitted with access control readers.
3) Managing Visitors
It is important that visitors can’t enter the premises without being checked in at the reception/administration office.
The simplest way is to ensure that access control is fitted to all areas that parents and members of the public should not enter. Once a visitor has been checked in, a member of staff can allow them access to the area that they need to visit, either by using their own pass card or by operating a button in the administration office.
When a visitor needs to leave a secure area, they can either press a free exit button or use an internal door handle if the door is fitted with one.
4) Managing Contractors and Temporary Staff
Whenever it is necessary to permit contractors on site, once their CRB conditions have been met, they can be issued with appropriate access cards. These cards will enable them to move around the parts of the premises in which they need to work without straying into unauthorised areas.
A time and attendance report can be used to monitor how long each contactor has been on site and in which areas they spent their time.
The current location and recent movements of each contractor can be checked at any time.
If necessary, a photograph of the contractor can be stored in their card record, which can be displayed on the management computer’s screen each time the card is used to enter the premises. This will ensure that pass cards are not being passed around to non-approved or non CRB checked staff.
However, for this system to operate, the management PC should be permanently monitored and be arranged so that the operator has a view of the reader at the main entrance, either directly or via a CCTV monitor. This would enable them to compare the person presenting the access card to the photograph on the screen.
Temporary teaching staff can be issued with pass cards that are valid for the period of their contract. A time and attendance reporting feature can used to monitor their attendance.
5) Protecting High Value Assets
Computer and science labs have high-value assets that that can be a target for theft. The prevention of theft during normal school hours can be greatly enhanced by fitting electronic locks and card readers at all access points to areas where valuable items are stored. This prevents unauthorised personnel having access to the equipment while it is unattended, and provides records of all events at that location.
The ability to review authorised card holders that had entered the controlled area around the time that a theft occurred, makes any investigation into the theft much simpler.
Access control can also be used to complement intruder alarms and security video for detecting forced entry and out-of-hours access. It can monitor individual doors and provide door forced alarms, as well as maintaining records of access, both authorised and unauthorised.
Do you implement access control systems in primary schools? What would be your top tip for securing the premises? We would love to know! Tweet us at @NortechControl!