All About School Security
When it comes to deciding which school is the right choice for your children there are a host of factors that you need to consider. These include things such as the facilities, location, history, academic credentials, sports and extracurricular activities. However, one area that is often overlooked, and is extremely relevant in South Africa, is the issue of school security. Whether you’re looking for a new school, or are a faculty member searching for ways to make your own school safer, this article will explore the issue of school security and look at some ways you can look at improving it.
Ways to improve school security
If you’re an educator or school administrator and are looking for ways to make your school safer for learners, then this section looks at some of the measures that should be in place to ensure learner safety. Alternatively, as a parent, this section will give you some insight into what to look out for and what questions to ask when investigating a new school.
Vary fire drills
Fire drills are an essential exercise, which serves to familiarise both learners and faculty staff with what to do in the case of a fire. While fire drills aren’t mandated they should be performed at least a few times per year. More importantly the timing of the drills should be varied to understand how the parties respond when the drill is unexpected.
Communicate evacuation plan
It is also important to have a clearly defined evacuation plan and that this plan is communicated to everyone involved. It should be made available on notice boards or in school communication to ensure everyone understands the procedures.
Have designated assembly points
Whether it is for fire or for another type of evacuation such as a bomb threat, it is important that the evacuation plan includes designated assembly points. These should be far enough away from the danger to provide safety, and students should have a clear directive on how they should assemble to allow for quick and accurate head counts and roll calls.
Assign safety tasks to staff
All staff members should play an active role in school safety. To help facilitate this, relevant staff members should be assigned safety tasks to not only ensure that they are accounted for, but also to educate and train them on best practices and procedures.
Provide necessary school safety training to staff
Following on from the point above, the school should work towards providing the necessary safety training for faculty members and other staff. This training can include school safety procedures and responses, but also more practical skills such as first aid and how to extinguish a fire.
How to properly use a fire extinguisher
Thankfully most of us have never had to use a fire extinguisher, but this also means that we may not know exactly how to use one in the case of an emergency. All staff members should be trained in this basic fire prevention measure to ensure that they are able to nip a potential fire in the bud.
Teachers should also receive basic first aid training so that they know what to do in the case of an emergency in the classroom or on the sports field. While no one expects teachers to be medical experts, having a basic first aid knowledge can help ensure that an injury or potentially harmful situation isn’t exacerbated due to not following the correct procedures.
Calmly guide learners to exits
The teacher is the person learners will turn to if they have any doubts regarding safety procedures. Teachers need to know what the school’s evacuation procedures are so that they can provide calm guidance to learners.
Know the ins and outs of the campus or school
For any school safety procedure to be successful it requires a detailed knowledge of the layout and facilities at the school. These need to be carefully audited and mapped out by the health and safety representative to ensure the smoothest possible evacuation procedure.
Emergency exits should never be blocked and should be clearly marked with lights or signs. It is important to remember that the goal should always be to avoid congestion so a combination of emergency and regular exits should be used wherever possible.
A school map should be displayed with the emergency exit procedure to help learners and teachers familiarise themselves with the campus or school layout. This map should clearly show emergency exits, staircases and fire and emergency equipment locations.
It is also very important that learners know where to go once they have evacuated the building. Both the assembly points and the nature of assembly should be communicated to learners as part of the drill. A school field is usually a good assembly point as learners are in the open and away from buildings.
Involve the learners in school safety
By involving the learners in defining and communicating school safety procedures we are able to better educate them on what to do. It can be useful to create a student body or class representatives that can perform certain safety checks with their peers or assist teachers in the case of an emergency.
Why is school security important?
It might seem like a silly question, but it is important that we understand the bigger picture for why a secure school environment is important for learners. While it stands to reason that a more secure environment is better, if we understand the impact a safe space it has on children or young adults we can do more towards making school more secure.
Provides a safe learning environment
First and foremost, school security is about protecting pupils and ensuring that they are able to learn in a safe environment. A safe environment helps promote increased learning, feelings of school unity, higher levels of prosocial behavior and decreased levels of violence.
Aids in learner development
A safe environment also helps in learner development by allowing them to interact with their peers without anxiety or fear, which aids their social development.
Prevents school fights
While children may still have scuffles or bully one another, certain safety procedures can help reduce this as well as preventing arguments or rivalries from spilling over into violence. These can be as simple as ensuring adequate supervision or more complex such as taking measures to reduce cyberbullying.
Provides a safe relaxed environment for learners and teachers
While we’ve spoken at great length about the effect on learners, a safe environment is also good for the teachers. If teachers know that good safety procedures are in place they can focus on the goal of education and having more relaxed learners will make them more open to learning.
Parents are more likely to send their children to a safe school
For schools looking to attract learners it is important to remember that parents will factor school security into their decision making process. Parents want peace of mind, knowing that their child is in good hands and in a secure setting while they are at school and so it can be beneficial for schools to improve their security for this reason.
Security outside school premises
School security doesn’t end at the faculty building, it is important that schools also take into account the external premises as well as any entry and exit points to ensure these are kept safe for learners.
Fencing and gates
The outer fences of the school should be regularly checked to make sure that there aren’t any holes or gaps that may allow unsavoury characters to get in, or truant learners to get out. Gates should also be in working order and able to be locked over weekends to prevent theft or vandalism to the school grounds.
External door and gate locks are working
Because schools often have many doors it is important that all of these are regularly checked as well. The person conducting the checks should ensure that each door or gate can be securely locked and that they are in good working condition.
It is also a good idea to improve security on certain key doors by installing supplemental locks. These can be in the form of deadbolts or even Lockable door latches such as LockLatch. These special locks feature an adjustable metal arm, which allows the size of the opening to be varied according to your needs. This is great for doors that need to be secured, but also provide a source of ventilation for learners, as the doors can be left slightly open to let air in.
Visible security is a great way to make the school grounds more secure. This can be achieved by an armed response company, but better yet is to have a nighttime security guard permanently on the premises.
Window security in school
Windows are another important safety area in the school. Because schools often have several windows per classroom and learners aren’t always the most careful, these are prone to breaking and these breakages are often unreported. Just as with doors and gates, it’s important that all school windows are checked regularly. One fantastic way to secure any type of window is with a LockLatch or MiniLatch device, these can be quickly and easily installed on any type of window making them a great option for schools regardless of the style of window on the faculty building.
Shatterproof glass provides a way to prevent injuries if glass is broken. Schools should look at installing shatterproof glass in areas where there is increased risk of breakage such as entry and exits and around sports fields.
Window locks such as LockLatch or MiniLatch are a great way to provide ventilation to classrooms without compromising on security. These patented devices can be easily fitted to any type of school window and allow teachers to keep windows ajar to allow fresh air in while the window stays securely locked in place. With a robust design and C304 stainless steel construction, each LockLatch or MiniLatch comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Increase your school security and school safety with LockLatch today.
Why not start making your school safer today with LockLatch or MiniLatch? These ingenious devices are great for classrooms that are prone to stuffiness or suffer from poor ventilation as they allow both teachers and learners to benefit from fresh air without compromising on security.