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A safe school is a prerequisite for productive learning. When students feel as though their safety is compromised, this affects their learning performance. To enhance levels of security, it’s important to know which methods of lockdown are suited and which should be avoided, writes Andrew Shaw, architectural consultant for Allegion UK.
Students need to feel safe to learn. Research has shown that classroom climate – all of the characteristics of a classroom – correlates with student achievement. This means that if students feel unsafe, it’s likely to affect their performance. However, because there’s no single, “one size fits all” answer to security, implementing the “right” solution may seem like a minefield. Because of this, it’s now more important than ever that school officials not only know the options available to them, but are making decisions tailored to their own individual requirements. On top of knowing specific performance requirements, school governing bodies must know which locking protocols to adhere to and which to avoid.
Security at every layer
When it comes to classroom security, significance should be placed on how staff and teachers can maximise their protection and that of students. The key to any successful classroom lockdown operation is selecting the appropriate credentials based on individual requirements. One thing that various credentials are often accused of is being too costly an investment to step into. In reality, a limited budget shouldn’t put a compromise on high-quality products. That’s not to ignore the fact that many schools are under budget pressures. However, the scope of security solutions available to the UK market means that schools are able to find solutions suited to their needs and budget.
There are a number of baseline protocols to uphold to ensure classroom security is kept at an all-time high. For example, remembering to keep doors closed and locked while rooms are in use will enable faster lockdown in emergency situations. Implementing an effective lockdown safety plan, including staff protocol and places to hide, can also help you in being prepared for critical situations. Installing hardware suited to your needs – whether mechanical, electronic or a combination – are each beneficial for everyday use as well as in emergencies.
There are some measures that don’t mitigate risk, they instead put staff and students in greater danger. It’s easy to overlook what may seem a harmless practice, but which is actually a violation of safety regulations – such as propping doors open and locking emergency exits. All entrances should aid free access and egress, not only for ease of passage but also in the event that emergency responders may be called to the site. With locking credentials, it’s also important to keep control of who can access the buildings so that unauthorised persons are on record. Electronic access control systems, for example, are designed for stricter security on who has access to a site and at which time it was accessed.
Furthermore, one of the biggest fallacies in the door hardware industry is that quality must be compromised to make room for affordability. Whilst this could have been put down to a lack of choice years and years ago, there are now products tailored to each and every need notwithstanding limitations such as budgets.
On top of this, it’s no use to switch out to a cheaper, less safe product that could ultimately cost more in the long-term if you’re to consider maintenance costs.
The myth of “one size fits all”
Every school is as diverse as the people it houses. Multiple types of credentials may be used within a school, depending on your unique needs. Particular aspects that ought to be given consideration are the severity and probability of any potential risks, the effectiveness of mitigating potential risks, the ability of staff to implement lockdown, and the school’s budget. Areas such as building entrances, for example, must balance the need for access control with accessibility and freedom of movement.