In this article we discuss why academies and schools in the UK are considering a school lockdown procedure and how to implement an effective system. We explain:
- The reasons why you would want to lock people in a school
- Whether the lockdown procedure should be combined with the fire alarm
- What to consider when developing a lockdown procedure
Why schools need a lockdown procedure
Most of the articles you will read that discuss the importance of having a school lockdown procedure will emanate from the United States where the opportunity to own a gun is much more prevalent and instances of fatal shootings have hit the headlines. As such they will be slightly more focused on protecting against fire arms offences.
The restrictions on ownership of firearms is much stricter in the UK, so arguably the risk of a ‘shooter’ in a uk school risk might less, but the awareness of and the demand for school lockdown procedures is increasing.
UK related events will include risks that can be posed by terrorists, malicious intruders, aggrieved parents or children, as well as crimes that involve other weapons such as knives, but they also include protecting people from nearby incidents such as fires and road traffic accidents.
Therefore, when considering whether to implement a school lockdown procedure it is important to be realistic about the risks for the school and its pupils. Different schools will identify different risks and the likelihood of one of these event occurring will vary by school, demographics and by location.
Combining lockdown procedure with fire alarm
All schools will have a fire alarm and so it could be tempting to use the fire alarm sounder to signal a lockdown alert. However, at Tecserv UK we would caution against this as the fire alarm is a warning to get out. The lock down is a warning to stay put and using one for both could be very confusing and lead to people taking the wrong action.
Plus, even a lockdown may require different responses!
Many schools have opted to take a two-stage lockdown alert. One to signal ‘be aware, but carry on’ and a second, but different alert to signal a ‘full lockdown’.
The response to these alerts may activate the locking of classroom doors and closure of windows/ blinds to indicate a threat in the vicinity of the school, as opposed to an immediate threat inside the school requiring more precise instruction and actions using a combination of audible and verbal sounders.
Implementing a school lockdown procedure
Pupils and staff have still got to be able to access and exit the school, so the best course of action is to have one primary access point and ensure all other entrances are monitored or supervised. This could be a physical presence of a teacher, active CCTV monitoring and use of access control systems.
Consideration also needs to be given to the fact that incidents could happen both during the school day as well as before and after school. The lockdown procedure should consider this and have a means of contacting everyone who may be affected to avoid them walking right into an incident.
Also make sure pupils, staff and visitors do not let the system down by leaving delivery gates open, not checking who’s at the door before opening it and allowing people who may not be authorised to enter in tandem.
School entrances that are fully open at busy times, should have adults on duty who are clearly visible (as a deterrent), and who are conscious and wary of people coming in and out, and where they are going.
When creating your school lockdown procedure you may also want to consider identifying parents or students that might present specific risks and any risks presented by the local community such as local gangs and events.
School Lockdown System Technology
Tecserv UK has installed fire and security systems for a number of schools, colleges, academies and universities right across the UK.
If would like help to define and develop your school lockdown procedure and advice on the most appropriate technology to install please get in touch. We have distributor agreements with most manufacturers of school lockdown equipment.