Following David Cameron’s announcement of the launch of 18 more state-funded schools recently, the numbers of community and extended schools are predicted to rise. Traka, the key and asset management specialist, believes that technology is the answer to helping schools feel confident about opening their doors to the public without lowering safety and security standards.
In the 80’s a community school was described as only being a community service if it was open. However, with the horrific actions of Thomas Hamilton and Horrett Campbell in 1996, the realisation of the dangers posed to schools became all too real and security regulations were tightened.
Present day community schools are facing a prevalent challenge of extending opening hours to allow for additional educational or recreational services, whilst preventing access to classrooms and restricted data.
According to the Department for Education’s advice on school security: “although fulfilling a public function, schools are private places. The public has no automatic right of entry.”
Key management enables schools to improve their security and site access. Traka’s automated systems have been designed to eliminate the need for the traditional key boxes, which can result in key losses, delayed room access from locating keys and vital keys being accidentally taken away from the premises. Schools’ can set-up individual access rights through Traka key management systems, which will only provide access to specified areas of the site. This restricted access allows the school to better facilitate community services without providing access to the entire property and compromising the security of premises or the safety of staff or pupils. Further to this, the intelligent database system also traces each key that is taken from the cabinet, logging who is the key holder and placing accountability on that individual.
If a school wanted to provide access to keys for a limited time (for example, supply teachers, peripatetic staff, visiting contractors, public hire), this can also be implemented via a Traka system. If the key is not returned within the specified time a notification will be sent out to the site manager or appropriate person. In addition to this, a prevention system can be applied. This stops the key holder from leaving the premises without returning the key and reduces the possibility of human error. It also reduces the possibility of an unnecessary and expensive lock refit throughout the school if a master key goes missing.
Ken Dyas, Customer Account Manager for Education Services at Traka, has said: “We are aware that opening up schools to communities is a beneficial way for them to gain extra revenue and enable the community to deepen their academic knowledge. However, this poses risks, which is why are working with educational sites to enable them to provide this service extension, while remaining safety compliant.”
Safety should and will always come first in education and through the key management, schools can have the confidence to offer a wider service to the community, whilst feeling secure in the knowledge that the pupils, staff and property are not left vulnerable.