21st September 2010
As the pressure mounts for school security to meet the Government’s strict standards, Alastair Henman, Managing Director of Zaun Ltd, explains how local authorities can tackle this head-on with perimeter fencing.
Creating a secure and safe environment for teachers to teach and pupils to learn must be an absolute priority for everyone involved in developing school buildings, from designers to headteachers, facilities managers right through to local authorities. Not only will this create the right learning environment, but it will also ensure that the high standards of security proposed in Government initiatives such as the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme are met.
Although BSF standards focus on the importance of creating secure learning environments in England’s secondary schools, schemes like this have also raised the bar across the board to implement the best security measures within all educational establishments throughout the UK.
There’s no doubt then that the key is for schools and local authorities to work together to meet these strict guidelines, as well as those of Ofsted who regularly inspect and regulate security measures. If these required standards are not met then they can be marked down on their Ofsted report for not having adequate security solutions in place.
Whether it’s for a new school project or refurbishing an existing building, perimeter fencing has provided local authority specifiers with a way to ensure children and staff are as safe as possible. It has also helped to drive down potential issues of criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, not only from outsiders but also from pupils and staff.
The association between fencing systems and the notion of ‘barricading’ pupils and staff has been made in the past. However, manufacturers have responded to this positively. As a result, there is a wide selection of fencing solutions available on the market that help to make school outdoor environments look as inviting and aesthetically pleasing as possible, whilst ensuring children and staff feel protected.
The investment in a boundary fencing system means that schools can control and, if necessary, reduce access points, as well as controlling public rights of way across sites. When finding a suitable solution, Zaun believes that close attention to detail, high-quality manufacturing and the ability to provide a first-class service offering, including all design and the management of installation work, is a must.
When selecting a suitable fencing solution, schools and local authorities want peace of mind that products perform to the highest standards and are secure by design. Industry bodies such as the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) can help manufacturers like Zaun to work towards the 1175 standard that provides a rigorous vetting process for security fencing. Once products are approved, they are given an internationally recognised ‘mark of trust’ and are listed within the LPCB’s ‘Red Book’ to highlight their effectiveness against security breaches such as burglary and vandalism. What about secure by design??
Selecting a well-designed fencing system that meets the required criteria for secure schools, both indoor and outdoor environments, is integral. Helping to keep its ground as safe and secure as possible, Ruislip High School in West London is just one example whereby Zaun has been able to task its team of technical experts to design, manufacture and manage the installation of a suitable solution throughout the whole premises.
High performance and durable boundary fencing system were installed on the schools’ grounds, with the rear of the complex having a 2.4-metre fence in response to concerns over security, while the front features 1.2-metre railings to demarcate the school’s roadside perimeter.
Additional low railings were used within the application to protect ornate gardens and shrubberies preventing pupils from taking shortcuts, as well as a tailored system for multi-use game areas (MUGAs) that required specialist sports fencing based on its ability to reduce noise from ball impacts.
When selecting the right perimeter system, another issue that needs to be considered is any planned and unplanned maintenance. Specifying and installing a high-quality solution will minimize any unnecessary expenditure for having to repair school buildings or replace damaged and stolen goods due to a lack of security measures in place.
As rising Government standards for secure schools continue to affect the market, Zaun has seen an increase in demand for bespoke fencing solutions in recent years. One example is that of Paget High School in Staffordshire. The school was keen to promote cycling to school as a healthier mode of transport. However, concerns over the protection of children’s bikes from vandal attacks and damage were something that needed to be addressed.
Zaun was able to design and install a series of resilient mesh bike sheds, which meant that each pupil would be allocated an individual locker. As a result, children will only have to pay a small charge per term to use the locker, which is then refunded at the end of the year to have secure storage. In effect, it has provided Paget High School with a long term and cost-effective solution to tackle vandalism head-on.
The changes to Government and industry standards will be ongoing and finding suitable security solutions will constantly be on the radar for local authorities. With fencing manufacturers aware of these demands, the selection of high quality conventional and bespoke systems is growing and it is helping specifiers to meet and go above and beyond the recommended expectations for secure schools.