How to meet Ofsted rules for security and access control
John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi, explains what security schools need to have in place to satisfy Ofsted inspectors
Access control and security are always vital ingredients for any school or college in protecting its students, but did you know that Ofsted inspections can mark a school down if it has inadequate perimeter security?! Failing to have the right security in place can adversely affect your scores, just as much as shortfalls in the education programme you provide pupils.
On a basic level, Ofsted inspectors need your school to demonstrate it takes reasonable steps to ensure pupils are safe on the school site. This will include monitoring visitors or volunteers as well as having adequate security arrangements for the grounds and school buildings.
Ofsted inspectors will be looking to see that your school’s security meets the basic criteria to protect pupils, staff and the premises. Like other criteria, inspectors will be looking for a security regime which encompasses the entire site, from the perimeter fencing to external classroom doors and internal doors which protect specific areas.
At the same time, whilst locks need to be secure by default, they also need to open automatically during the operation of the fire alarm system or a loss of electrical power, ensuring secured areas don’t inadvertently become a hazard.
As well as secure access for pupils and staff, Ofsted inspectors will also expect to see an identity badge system to be in place to enable staff to differentiate between authorised visitors and those that have not followed the required registering procedure.
Keeping an unwavering eye on your school
A good security system will not only prevent intruders entering the school facilities, it will also ensure pupils are in the right place at the right time. Access control, in conjunction with CCTV, is the perfect way to monitor for truancy – ensuring pupils are tracked entering and exiting the school and the times and locations are recorded and flagged up if there are any concerns.
A powerful integrated security system, such as TDSi’s EXgarde PRO software, will oversee both the tracking/time ad attendance of pupils and the control of outside visitors – all from one central portal. This can also be directly linked to the school’s central SIMS (School Information Management System), ensuring that precise records are kept and can be fully demonstrated to Ofsted inspectors with a detailed and highly accurate audit trail.
This also gives you the ability to easily and rapidly micro-manage the security of different parts of the school. For example, identity cards can be programmed to allow/deny access to restricted areas and when necessary certain doors can be locked at certain times of the day (such as classrooms outside teaching hours, or storage areas during evenings and weekends).
This comes into its own if there is an emergency, such as a fire or criminal attack on people or the premises. The security team can immediately instigate a lockdown procedure or assist an evacuation by intelligent use of access control.
Affordable integrated security
Don’t go thinking that modern integrated systems are unaffordable – the nature of the components involved means it is completely possible and practical to mix items from different providers (and even to include older legacy items) to find the right cost/performance balance.
Wireless networks and the use of IP-enabled systems also mean that installation is straightforward and will cause minimum disruption to pupils and staff alike. Equally, these powerful systems can be added to existing doors (including glass doors and fire doors), gates and barriers, further reducing disruption and costs.
EXgarde PRO makes it simple to include and monitor many different systems together, from automated gates for school car parks to room booking systems, integrated lockers, vending and catering payment systems. This gives a truly all-encompassing view of the school and the people that use and maintain it daily.
When it comes to protecting people and premises, as well as satisfying the stringent Ofsted inspections, your school needs to be sure its security meets the necessary standards for a modern environment.
A good approach is to use a local security expert, such as an installer or specifier, who can give you a balanced and professional opinion as well as helping you to plug any potential gaps. A security expert will find the perfect solution for your budgetary and protection needs, ensuring peace of mind for your management team and stakeholders, as well as the pupils and parents you have the duty of care for.