For many years, school safety was an often-overlooked component of delivering effective educational services, taken for granted in all but the most difficult of institutions. Recently though, more attention is being paid to classroom safety, partly due to increased awareness of potential dangers amongst educators and parents alike, but also due to new tools becoming available that allow us to better provide an adequate level of safety in schools. A key part of education is providing a secure working environment for students and teachers, and faced with dwindling resources and ever-greater levels of public scrutiny, more and more establishments are taking steps to try and nullify physical threats to the people they are responsible for.
Amidst an increasingly safety-conscious social backdrop, the issue of school violence has started to become more visible. The main factor behind this is rising levels of serious violent crime amongst young people, making classroom safety a priority once more. Where regular physical attacks may once have been seen as a problem confined to places like the US, the problem is now becoming widespread across not just the UK but much of Europe.
According to ONS statistics, even crimes involving weapons are showing marked year on year increases amongst young people. Classroom violence can even spill over into the outside world, with serious feuds taking place both inside and outside of school and resulting in sometimes lethal assaults.
Amidst the growing amount of violence in schools, assaults on teachers are now considered to be commonplace. NASUWT figures place one in four educators at risk of attack on a weekly basis, whilst almost half have been on the receiving end of verbal threats from their pupils. In an even more troubling trend, whilst it has become common for a student to threaten a teacher, there are increasing instances where a parent threatens a teacher.
Over one in four has reported direct threats from a parent, compared with around one in ten just several years ago. Abuse also extends onto social media, with many effected teachers receiving threatening messages outside of work hours. To combat this, many schools are now looking to improve the level of protection that they can offer to staff whilst they are on the premises.
Whilst one on one violence between students or even individual attacks on teachers have become commonplace, something that many authorities have failed to take notice of is the prevalence of serious security incidents in school. This typically involves a person or even multiple people searching for and attacking a target or even assaulting victims at random. Typically, this is related to gang activity taking place in the catchment area spilling over into the school day, where rival parties know where their target will be.
However for many, this may conjure up images of a school shooter, as just last year, two students in North Yorkshire were convicted of planning an attack on their classmates. Similarly, interpersonal conflicts that escalate to attacks involving an in-school stabbing can continue to put other pupils and members of staff at risk until the attacker can be contained.
As mentioned above, the violence taking place in schools is not just inflicted by students, but can also be perpetrated by disgruntled parents or members of the public who are otherwise looking to harm someone in the building. Alternatively, a person may be looking to rob the school and seeking to avoid confrontation, or they may be even trespassing for completely innocent reasons.
However, each of these instances still needs to be reported, logged and monitored especially if a member of staff needs to confront the person in question and ask their reasons for being on the premises. This is where lone worker protection for teachers can help immensely, with wearable devices and apps for smartphones providing both the ability to summon help at the press of a button and also let other staff members listen in on a conversation with a trespasser.
Whilst the vast majority of people trespassing on school grounds will simply be parents or scheduled visitors, some may have more sinister intentions, making it imperative to have an effective means to trigger an intruder alert in schools. A school intruder alarm system can allow for staff members to instantly send an alert to other employees warning them of a potential danger, which can be especially useful if the individual becomes aggressive and extra help is needed.
Faced with a growing challenge posed by violence coming from both inside and outside of schools, many educators in the UK are starting to turn to techniques such as the school lockdown procedure in order to limit potential harm that may come to them or their students in the event of an attack. At present, many institutions rely on basic procedures such as informing staff verbally or using a generalised alarm to initiate the closure of classrooms.
However, these techniques are often slow, lack an ability to provide up to date information to all staff and can potentially enrage a dangerous individual even further. Furthermore, staff members have to take overt actions in order to initiate these alarms, risking provoking the person to attack. As a means of circumventing these issues, it is recommended that real investment is made in a purpose-designed panic alarm system for schools, letting staff know where the threat is and what action to take in a clearly communicated manner.
Critical alarm management systems such as those provided by ANT are built for exactly this reason. The computerised system automatically logs alarms raised by staff (which can be done via a simple app) and then sends out notifications to the appropriate responders instantly. This can be taken a step further via the usage of mobile personal emergency response devices (MPERS). These are small wearable panic buttons that can be used to summon help to a specific location at the touch of a button, making them a stealthy but powerful tool for teachers confronted by an intruder.
Whilst assaults amongst pupils are a growing problem in UK, a properly designed alarm system will help not just with violent incidents, but with general health and safety in schools. Accidents and medical emergencies are a more frequent and sometimes just as dangerous occurrence, meaning that the right tools are needed in order to provide a 360 degree level of protection with the right amount of flexibility to deal with any situation.
ANT produces a wide range of safety equipment and software that integrate with both one another and existing systems in order to provide a cost effective solution for protecting employees and students alike.
Furthermore, these products are designed to integrate with training procedures without disrupting existing health and safety procedures in schools. This means that staff can continue with their duties without having to master complex new skillsets and remember convoluted procedures; just a simple smartphone app connected to an upgraded alarm system can be a massive boost to protection.
Furthermore, these tools give leaders an unprecedented ability to easily monitor situations as they arise and are dealt with (be they mundane or serious) and then alter plans and rules accordingly. For a comprehensive guide to suitable health and safety systems, visit https://www.anttelecom.co.uk/school-safety
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