Security Measures for a School | 10 Tips

28 April 2023

school corridor

Keeping students and staff safe is a key priority to any educational establishment – and as classrooms within the UK are expanding in size, safeguarding is becoming a more challenging problem. 

Here are 10 tips to consider when reviewing the security systems of your facility.

1. Communication is Key

What communication systems do you have in place for a crisis situation? Do you have staff mobile phones or handsets in classrooms? It's important to consider having these things in place in case of an emergency.

If mobile phones are considered a safeguarding issue in your school you could also consider alarms or even lockdown systems. These aren't just fire alarms but can be distress alarms and silent alarms which both notify, and lockdown selected doors throughout the premises to delay any crisis or attack. When picking an alarm you should consider; where will it be heard, who will be notified (internal and external), and whether it's tested on a regular basis, as some panic buttons may tell you who is being attacked but not where.

You need to think of the best way for you to communicate in an emergency; sometimes it’s a combination of various communications channels. It’s also best to take various scenarios into consideration. What's appropriate in the case of fire may not be in an aggressive intrusion attack.

2. Access control

One way to keep students and staff safe when they're on the premises is to limit the flow of people by using access control. This could be as simple as using a proximity card reader on every entrance or area that needs to be secured. For example, you can also pair up an access card or fob system with turnstiles to control who can enter the building. Access control cards/fobs are easy to make and assign which is ideal when you have lots of people needing access to a building. Access control cards can also double up as I.D. and can be used and integrated into other systems like printers, cashless vending, and sports systems just to name a few. They can take attendance of who arrived at the school at what time and who has left which means less work for teachers and saves time in the event of a fire. This is where one common card can be integrated to be able to carry out multiple tasks which can assist schools in cutting out unwanted administration tasks.

3. Clear Signage

You need to have clear signage highlighting what to do in an emergency, emergency exits and if you are monitoring by CCTV. Most of these are legal requirements which will have specific dimensions to comply with, too. These are likely to be installed when the alarm or security system is installed unless there are adequate signs already in place.

4. Perimeter Security

One of the easiest ways to protect students, staff, and property is to secure the perimeter. You should ensure that the school has no easy access points. You should consider doing perimeter checks to make sure that there aren't broken fence panels and to make sure all of the security is working and hasn't been tampered with. Adding access control and intercoms to reception areas, or adding drop arm barriers and palisade fencing are some of the most popular security tactics for educational facilities.

Palisade fencing is one of the most common ways to secure the perimeter of a school as it's one of the cheaper options, durable, and hard to climb.

Getting a security gate that requires card entry to access will make staff who need to get in early/leave late feel secure in the building and keep people and vehicles from entering without permission during school hours. However, we appreciate you may not be able to have them down at the core arrival/pick-up times


There can be hesitancy towards implementing CCTV in a school for safeguarding reasons, however, it has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve security. Before installing CCTV on school premises, you need to be clear as to why you want it. This is because you will need to notify the ICO of why you want CCTV before the installation can happen (read more here).

Some key reasons you may want to consider installing CCTV:

  • Reduce vandalism.
  • Keep pupils and staff safe.
  • Keep out unwanted visitors.
  • Monitor anti-social behaviour.
  • Reduce theft and insurance claims.
  • Maintain staff well-being and safety

The placement of cameras and their cables should be considered to reduce the possibilities of vandalism and also a failover to ensure the continuity of the system

6. Security lighting

During the winter months, it gets darker earlier, so it is a good choice to have security lighting outside. It gives reassurance to those utilising the outside areas in the dark whether they are entering the premises or leaving for the day. They can be installed along footpaths, playgrounds, or car parks to ensure everyone stays and feels safe.

Additionally, security lighting should also fall into the design considerations for CCTV implementation, e.g. flood lights that are triggered when a CCTV camera is crossed.

7. Visitor System

You should always know who is on the premises, especially visitors. The likely route for legitimate visitors would be through the reception area where you can sign them in and give them an I.D. card that can be linked to a visitor management system. These systems are commonly integrated with the access control system which allows movement to be limited to specific areas. Contractors who work at schools during holiday periods may have an I.D. card with certain access to certain areas for a limited time period as an example with complete traceability of their movements.

8. Accessing Data and Records

Your data should be accessible in everyday life but what happens if you experience a power cut, perhaps right in the middle of an emergency? Do you have access to all the student’s records and registers?

You can get an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit which means you can still work or access your records on the grounds. Alternatively, you may want to consider how to access your records externally to the building, this could be a manual process or by way of a more sophisticated backup system. Whichever way is chosen, the correct protocols must be in place for any eventuality.

9. Emergency Procedures

As with fire procedures, it is important to educate all who will be affected by an emergency situation. It is imperative to ensure that this is reviewed and all parties are trained regularly on these procedures.

10. Risk Assessments

The first thing to do when looking at security is to complete a risk assessment. It will outline the level of cover you need, help you create a plan of action and tell you what you need it to cover to keep your building, staff and pupils safe. They should be reviewed in detail when significant alterations are made to a school’s premises, for example, if an extension is built. You should also consider how to inform your staff, students and visitors about what to do in an emergency, and carry out drills and training exercises.

Looking to heighten the level of security of your premises? Discover how we work with the education sector here or book a call with us directly

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