Further Education has always looked to protect its students, staff and property, so access control and security are already vital ingredients. However, what might be less obvious is that Ofsted inspections can mark a FE college down if it has inadequate perimeter security, just as much as if it is failing in its education programme.
On a basic level, Ofsted inspectors need to see that colleges can demonstrate reasonable steps to ensure all students and staff are safe on site. This will also include monitoring visitors or volunteers as well as having adequate security arrangements for the grounds and buildings.
Demonstrating the right security
Ofsted inspectors will be looking to see that your college’s security meets the basic criteria to protect students, 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 doors and internal doors, which protect specific areas.
At the same time, whilst locks need to be secure, 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 students 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
A good security system will not only prevent intruders entering the facilities, it will also ensure students are in the right place at the right time. Access control, in conjunction with CCTV, is the perfect way to monitor attendance of specific sessions and automatically recording this for college records.
A powerful integrated security system will oversee both the tracking/time & attendance of students and the control of outside visitors – all from one central portal. This can also be directly linked to the college’s central database 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 college. 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 lecture rooms 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 students 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.
Situational security control software makes it simple to include and monitor many different systems together, from automated gates for car parks to room booking systems, integrated lockers, vending and catering payment systems. This gives a truly all-encompassing view of the college 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 college 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 students you have the duty of care for.
For more details on how TDSi’s integrated security systems can help your school meet Ofsted regulations please visit www.tdsi.coi.uk or telephone +44 (0)1202 723535.