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School security question

(26 Posts)
Minniethemoocher Tue 09-Sep-08 09:42:16

Just interested in how secure your child's school is.

DD is 5 years old, has just started Year 1 and has Special Educational Needs, we are awaiting a formal diagnosis, but severe dyslexia is suspected, along with another cogitative problem. As a result, she finds school very bewildering and confusing.

To give you an idea, last week, she followed another child out of the classroom (which has 2 doors) out into the playground, she then became disorientated in the crowd and distressed when I wasn't there to collect her. Fortunately the Teaching Assistant saw her follow this other boy and retrieved her from the playground and bought her back to me.

My big worry is that during the day, the school gates are not locked at all and anyone can walk into the school playground. To get to reception, you have to walk through the school playground.

I am worried that someone may walk-in to the school and walk-out with DD (unlikely I know, but not impossible!) OR that someone would leave the gates open and DD or other children would leave the school grounds and wander out. There is a deep lake less than 50 metres away....

Do you think that it is reasonable to expect the school gates to be locked during the school day, with an entry phone system? I am thinking of writing to the head teacher and the governors about this.

Ripeberry Tue 09-Sep-08 09:53:53

You have a very valid point, security should be stepped up!
My daughter's school is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields, but even they have an entry system.
But they also do have a right of way footpath that goes near the school so if anyone REALLY wanted to abduct a child they would just have to cross a field!
But also your school should have a locked gate for safety reasons (road dangers).
Have a word with one of the governors or even the head.
Problem is these systems are quite expensive.
Our pre-school is in the school grounds as well and we have had a quote JUST for the entry button of over £1,500!

chapstickchick Tue 09-Sep-08 10:00:09

i do understand your concerns but you cant expect the school to revolve around one childs safety? surely you thought bout this aspect before choosing a school?

The safety will have to be reviewed in light of safety for all children- until she has formal diagnosis i cant see that school can do v much - these systems cost a fortune.

seeker Tue 09-Sep-08 10:01:33

I think that the school gates should be locked during the day to deter bolters. I am actually surprised that they aren't. I would speak to the head immediately.

FAQ Tue 09-Sep-08 10:02:54

at DS2's infant school the gates are open all day - except for lunchtime and break times - when they're locked (same as your school you have to walk into the playground to get to the reception).

Hassled Tue 09-Sep-08 10:05:48

THe school has a duty of care towards its pupils and has to be seen to be ensuring their health and safety while they are on the premises. Our infant school has a main gate that is locked during school hours and a pedestrian gate with a high latch that a pupil couldn't reach. And a buzzer/entry system as well. I think speaking to the Head in the first instance, followed by a letter to the Governors if you're not happy, is well worthwhile.

seeker Tue 09-Sep-08 10:05:55

I wouldn't (as I am always saying!) be worried about abductions. But I would be worried about escapees. It wouldn't cost a lot to have an out of child-reach bolt put on the gate would it?

WigWamBam Tue 09-Sep-08 10:08:07

Chapstick, do you really think that it's only one child's safety which is the issue here? Infant schools should have gates, and gates should be locked during school time - or at least during playtimes - for the safety of all the children.

Raise the question with the Head, and if you don't get any joy then speak to the Governors.

Linnet Tue 09-Sep-08 10:09:31

At my dd's school the gates aren't locked during the day. I did worry about this slightly before dd started school but when the children are out in the playground for playtime or lunch there are adults out there with them keeping an eye on them. They make sure everyone is behaving, help children who have hurt themselves and I guess stop anyone form escaping etc does your dd's school not have these helpers?

Our school has a buzzer entry system on the doors which are locked during class time, but the gates are open at all times during the school day.

wessexgirl Tue 09-Sep-08 10:11:16

Dd1's (huge) primary school has three gates; one is locked throughout the school day with an entryphone system (as we found to our cost on her first day yesterday!); one is padlocked at the same times, and the one nearest the office is kept open.

Because it's near the office, it's visible at all times (there are at least 4 office staff, so the place is never unmanned). Also, at break and lunchtimes, a member of staff blocks the pathway to it.

I don't think a child could escape, but I DO think it would be quite easy for an unwelcome visitor to slip in through one of the side doors to the classrooms, which I don't really like the idea of.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 09-Sep-08 10:11:46

I'm amazed to hear that your school is so insecure that anyone can walk into the playground. I don't want to be alarmist but that is a clear risk to the children and you should raise it with the Head - or with the Governors - immediately.

At our school, the children gather in the morning in the front yard. They are then taken by their teachers into the school. Access to the admin offices are via the front yard but parents and visitors have to buzz for entry and if children are leaving school early for any reason, parents must wait for them by the office and a member of staff will bring the child to them. When school finishes, the gates are unlocked and parents can wait outside the classrooms but that is the only time that parents are allowed beyond the front yard/office.

Boyswillbeboys Tue 09-Sep-08 10:12:22

I am shocked that the school gates are left open. At our school the gates are opened 5 minutes before school starts and shut as soon as all parents have left, then again 5 minutes before going home time, and we are encouraged to leave asap, so they can shut the gate for the safety of those who are staying for after school clubs. There is a buzzer entry system with a CCTV to let visitors in at other times. Mind you, we are in central London.

Minniethemoocher Tue 09-Sep-08 10:15:41

Chapstick - no, I don't expect the school to revolve around one child's safety, even if that child is mine - other children could just as easily wander out of the school during playtime and I think that it is dangerous with a very deep lake only 50 metres away and open countryside.

I was only pointing out that my child is more vulnerable, due to her SEN.

Does anyone know if there are any Ofsted/Department of Education guidelines on school security?

Just in case the school think that I am just a paranoid parent and dismiss my concerns.

wessexgirl Tue 09-Sep-08 10:18:14

Ofsted do give schools ratings on 'the extent to which providers ensure (the children) stay safe', so they must have criteria. Not sure what they are, though.

SaintGeorge Tue 09-Sep-08 10:19:29

Our main school gates are usually unlocked, but there are so many other ways on to the grounds that it wouldn't make much difference anyway.

There are gates on the the KS1 playground that are chained & padlocked at break time sand lunch.

The school buildings are kept locked at all times, except for one door that only allows access to a foyer near the office.

KS2 children are allowed to move between the buildings alone, KS1 children have to be escorted.

All of the grounds within 300mtrs of the building are covered by CCTV.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 09-Sep-08 10:32:31

Some useful material on school security from TeacherNet

FAQ Tue 09-Sep-08 10:37:09

"I'm amazed to hear that your school is so insecure that anyone can walk into the playground."

In some school there's no way around this issue, if they were built 100yrs ago (like DS2's infant school) provision wasn't made for a way to get into the school that isn't via the playground (although DS2's school have at some point put in a buzzer to a door that doesn't lead into the playground for use during times when the gates are locked (playtimes), but this isn't practical for use all the time as it's quite a walk to the office (where this is a keypad to get through the inner doors of the main entrance) and with the high volume of visitors to the school it would be totally impractical for the secretary to keep walking along to the other door to let people in and out.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 09-Sep-08 10:47:40

FAQ - I know that many schools were built 100 years ago. Ours is one of them, as are most of the other schools nearby. All of them have found ways to curtail access to the playgrounds (or prevent it altogether).

I know that altering an old building and its grounds isn't straightforward but, even so, I am still amazed that some schools haven't found a way to manage this. I agree that the threat from 'stranger danger' is far smaller than media reports might make us believe, but would still be concerned if I thought that (say) opportunist burglars or disgruntled ex-partners involved in custody disputes could get into the school at will.

FAQ Tue 09-Sep-08 10:54:04

our school does - as I said the gate is locked at playtimes, and the rest of the time the inner doors are shut with a keypad lock to get in, so visitors have to wait for the receptionsit to sort them out- but even then they have to walk through part of the playground to get to the office.

Minniethemoocher Tue 09-Sep-08 12:30:27

Thank you for the link madbadanddangeroustoknow, I will have a read and incorporate the advice in my letter to the school.

I am concerned that like chapstick appears to think, the school will think that I have a personal axe to grind because of the vulnerabilty of my DD, but there are over 200 other children in the school to also consider.

islandofsodor Tue 09-Sep-08 12:54:48

I would be very, very concerned if the school agtes were lcked during the day as in an emergency evacuation vital minutes would be lost unlocking gates etc and the emergency services access would be restricted.

Saying that I don't think infant children should be let out into the playground at the end of the day and there should be a buzzer door entry system into the actual school building. At playtimes the playground should be well supervised.

I deliver stuff to approx 50 odd primary schools in the next county to me and not one of them has locked gates.

Minniethemoocher Tue 09-Sep-08 13:55:11

Well I really think that as a minimum, the gates should be locked at playtime/break when the children are out in the grounds and could readily wander outside of the school.

I do know of other schools where the gates are locked and they have a buzzer entry phone system. It would be simple to have a switch to open them quickly to allow access for emergency vehicles/evacuation.

wannaBe Tue 09-Sep-08 14:19:06

Iirc school security was only changed in this way after Dunblane. Before this virtually anyone could walk into any school, and while what happened at Dunblane was tragic beyond words, the reality is that school gates have been open for years and years and children have rarely come to any harm.

Abduction wouldn't bother me. At all. children are no more at risk of abduction now than they were 20/30/50 years ago, and it's only the media that leads us to believe that they are. The only thing that would concern me more now is traffic, and the fact that there is definitely more of that now than there was then, so if a child were to get out of the school grounds, they would be at greater risk of being hit by a car.

Our school does have fates that are seemingly everywhere, and the door to the office is outside of those gates so if you have to go in other than to pick up your child you have to be buzzed through a keypad system.

But reality is that no school wants to put their children at risk, and if they have decided not to have gates/to keep gates unlocked then they will have thoroughly thought it through, and I would imagine you won't be the first parent to have raised the issue so hopefully they should be able to give you a reasonable explanation as too why they have chosen this course of action.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 09-Sep-08 14:32:15

Minnie - you're welcome. I haven't read the guidance but guess that it will strike some sort of balance between keeping people out of the school who have no business to be there but not leaving it so heavily fortified that nobody can get out in an emergency.

Orinoco Tue 09-Sep-08 19:05:47

Message withdrawn

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