School visitor policy: mainly common sense?

Security within schools is always an emotive issue, particularly given recent headline hitting events in the US.

Is your school at risk from unwanted visitors? Are your procedures adequate?

Most importantly, are staff fully briefed on your policy? Would they challenge visitors they didn’t know within the school, if they weren’t accompanied or wearing school visitor passes?

A lot of security comes down to common sense

A lot of ways to prevent unauthorised visitors comes down to common sense, which won‘t impact on an already stretched school budget:

  • Ÿ  Ensure only one main entrance is in use during school hours
  • Ÿ  Keep it locked from the outside, so visitors have to call or ring for entry
  • Ÿ  Have the entrance ‘manned’ by a receptionist or secretary
  • Ÿ  Make sure all playgrounds can only be accessed from within the school
  • Ÿ  All visitors – even parents who are known to the school – should use this main entrance and report to the receptionist/secretary.

Have a clear procedure for dealing with visitors

The easiest way to deal with visitors is to issue school visitors passes or contractor passes to all individuals, regardless of the purpose of their visit or how well known they are to the staff.

It’s important to adopt a one rule for all stance – if you break the rules for one visitor, your staff will lose faith in the procedure.

School visitor passes usually come as part of a ‘system’ that allows you to record visit date, name, host, company and vehicle information. All these details are held on a discreet bottom sheet, whilst pre-numbered passes are handed to the individuals. This creates a future reference sheet and a current fire register, which meets your health and safety obligations.

School visitor passes can be bought off the shelf, or customised to your own branding. You could choose to include specific school health and safety information for example.

Cost effective measure that won’t impact on your budget

There are, of course, many other ways to increase security within your school, from sophisticated access control systems to ID cards and biometric solutions. However not all schools want to introduce such measures, nor do they have the budget.

Our packs of school visitor passes in a system start from just £64.40 for 200 and include a writing board, wallet storage tower, pen set, wallets, clips and lanyards.

The benefits of photo ID cards

Thinking about making photo ID cards standard issue for your organisation? Badging staff with photo ID cards can play a significant factor in ensuring the security of your building, and the protection of your employees. A photo ID programme is almost always beneficial to companies with large numbers of staff, particularly if they work across multiple locations. But they also have their place in smaller enterprises too.

Identity card
Implementing photo ID cards increases security

On a simple level, photo ID cards identify the wearer, and whether they have the right to access the building. They also make it much harder for the cards to be ‘adopted’ by anyone other than the rightful owner, which automatically tightens security. They also bring a sense of community to your workforce, a benefit that can’t be underestimated.

If you’re currently considering the merits of photo ID cards, here are a few things to consider.

How will you manage the programme?

Who will be responsible for creating the cards, managing the records and dealing with the day-to-day administration? Usually this responsibility lies with HR, but if you don’t have your own HR department, give at least two people responsibility. That way, if one person is on holiday when a card is ‘forgotten’ or ‘stolen’, things won’t grind to a halt.

If you’re bringing this in for security purposes, stick to it.

Don’t make it one rule for one, one rule for another. That means senior management too, otherwise it undermines the whole programme. If the primary purpose for bringing in photo ID cards is to improve security, everyone needs to wear a badge.

Make sure you police it.

Giving all staff a Photo ID card for security purposes is only effective if it’s going to be enforced. If you have someone permanently in Reception, give them the responsibility for checking everyone is wearing a photo ID card when they enter the building. Most importantly, they should stop anyone who is not.

In some industries where security is paramount, for example in healthcare or schools, staff should be given permission to challenge anyone not wearing a badge. This secondary level of checking should reveal anyone who made it past reception unnoticed.

But I forgot my card today…

If someone forgot their pass, make sure they’re given a temporary one for the day, rather than adopt a “It’s ok Susan, I know it’s you” attitude. The receptionist might know them, but that doesn’t mean the whole company does.

Some other things you should ask yourself before you press the ‘buy’ button:

– Do you want the cards to do anything else?

Do you want your photo ID cards to double up as access control cards or cashless vending cards? We regularly supply ‘smart’ photo ID cards – we’ll be happy to advise you if you have any questions.

– Who should you choose to print your cards?

Once you’ve gathered the data together (photographs and details), look for a plastic card supplier you can trust with your information. Check their credibility. It isn’t particularly wise to choose a supplier based in China you’ve never heard of – even if they are cheap – integrity of data won’t be guaranteed. Ask questions – how will the supplier store your information? Are their staff CRB checked? All of these are sensible questions to ask to prevent identities being stolen.

– Do you want someone else to issue the cards for you?

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of administration? Some plastic card manufacturers operate a card issuance service, where the cards are sent with a personalised letter directly to employees. We have done this for a number of large organisations, please contact one of our friendly staff for more details.

–       How will you deal with new staff and changes during the year?

You don’t want to be raising new Purchase Orders and buying large packets of ID cards just because you have one new joiner. Think about investing in a plastic card printer that will allow you to create a handful of cards yourself, when you need to. Or look for a plastic card supplier that allows you to buy more than you need and ‘bank’ them with them. Anyone buying photo ID cards from us can take advantage of our ‘card bank’. Any cards that aren’t used can be drawn on as many times as you like throughout the year, at no extra cost.

Why choose The Card Network?

We have been in the Card Identity business for nearly 20 years. All our Card Bureau staff are CRB checked and we have invested in the latest technology systems to ensure the integrity of your data. Charities, healthcare institutions, schools and businesses trust us to print their photo ID cards. Our packs of 20 cards cost just £70, complete with card holders, lanyards and clips.

Send us your details and we’ll do the rest. We’ll always send you a PDF proof to approve before we print your cards.

Stepping up access control in schools: is biometrics the answer?

Biometrics information
Biometrics will increase security, but how many will opt out?

Security is always at the forefront of the school agenda, and never more so than recently. More educational establishments are embracing the many benefits presented by access control reader systems in terms of identifying and controlling who enters their buildings. In most cases this means presenting staff and pupils with access control key cards, fobs or tokens – which often double up as ID cards.

Biometrics offers more security and peace of mind   

Some institutions are now looking at increasing the level of protection offered by access control solutions, and that search inevitably leads them towards biometrics.

Installing a biometrics system is an obvious choice for schools in many ways: it negates the threat of stolen or lost tokens, it prevents the misuse of entry cards and ‘tail gaiting’ and on a simple level, does away with the ‘But I forgot my card/fob today’ scenario. In simple terms, a system employing biometrics prevents entry to anyone who doesn’t have a right to be there.

So why aren’t more schools going down the biometrics route?

The Protection of Freedoms Act

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (which comes into force in September 2013) makes that decision a great deal trickier. Under the terms of the Act, schools and colleges will need to notify and gain consent from parents if they intend to use and store their children’s biometric information. But pupils themselves will also be able to refuse to participate, even if their parents have consented.

This new legislation applies to the storing of biometric information such as fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements.

Where a pupil or parent refuses consent, the school/college will have to provide an alternative. Which means they could end up with a mix of security systems in place: not ideal for administration or equality, not to mention the bottom line.

Access control manufacturers such as TDSi see this as an opportunity for education providers rather than a threat. They regard it as an opportunity to future-proof security systems and offer real choice. They advocate a multi-format access control reader that (as the name suggests) offers multi format security options (biometric, token or pin). Doing so means there will be choice now and in the future as the security market continues to rapidly develop.

Schools and colleges will need to weigh up the pros and cons for themselves, and see if biometrics is the right route.

Read more about what TDSi think here.

School ID cards that pay for your lunch

With half-term over and the evenings drawing in, many schools and colleges are reviewing their security systems and procedures. This often leads to the consideration of school ID cards, as more educational establishments see the benefits of safeguarding staff and pupils.

But did you know that an identity card can be much more than just photographic ID?

Introduce cashless payment – no need to carry snack money around

Paying for lunch
Have students swipe for their lunch instead

Turning your school ID cards into cashless payment cards could make problems with forgotten or stolen lunch money a thing of the past. Our school ID cards can incorporate smart card technology that allows for cashless vending, so pupils don’t need to carry cash around. Parents manage the cashless account online and can top-up whenever required. This means they can also monitor what their children are eating during the day, particularly helpful for those with food allergies. It also gives parents peace of mind that their money is being spent on school meals rather than anything else.

The benefits

As well as being more convenient for everyone, this has a number of benefits above and beyond enabling faster service at tills. Most notably they can help to reduce bullying. Free meals pupils are also given exactly the same card as everyone else, which prevents differentiation.

It’s easy to print these cards in-house yourself by investing in a plastic card printer. Then all you’ll need is a stock of the right cards. We stock some of the best performing and value for money plastic card printers on the market. We also have a large selection of blank smart cards from all manufacturers, equipped with the necessary technology.

So if you’re thinking about school ID cards, think about turning them into a smart card.

Have any questions or like more information? Simply call one of our friendly staff with your requirements and we’ll be happy to help and provide a quote.

More than just school ID cards

More and more educational establishments are choosing to equip their pupils and staff with photographic ID cards to increase security onsite. Having bespoke ID cards carrying the school’s logo and branding also conveys a great impression to parents and visitors.

School ID card
ID cards can double up to be secure entry cards

But what else would you like your school ID cards to do?

As well as badging staff and pupils, ID cards can perform a number of functions specific to the school or college environment.

Turn them into an access control card

It’s easy for an ID card to also function as an access control card to allow entry to specific areas of the school. For example, only staff cards would gain entry to the staff room or resources cupboards. The Card Network can provide ID cards that integrate with your existing access control system.

Have them perform as a library card or cashless vending card

ID cards can also double up to be a contactless smart card. For example it could act as a library card and record details of when a book is taken out or returned. Or one function that is proving to be very popular with parents and teachers is that of a cashless vending card. This allows pupils and students to ‘swipe’ for their lunch or snacks rather than handing over cash.

Additional security features

Where you want to step-up security, you can also choose to add a signature panel to the cards or an encoded magnetic stripe.

Plan ahead for school ID cards needed in the future

Buying a pack of ID cards is cheaper and easier than having to buy individual cards. But what if you don’t need all of the cards in the pack? No problem. The Card Network provides a ‘card bank’ option where we hang onto whatever cards you don’t use until you need them. So if you have new pupils or staff joining throughout the year, simply send us their details and photograph and we’ll print a new card from your pack. There’s no minimum quantity and no hassle for you – all we’ll charge is a small posting fee. When your reserves are running low, we’ll let you know so you can plan ahead. Our school ID cards packs are available in packs of 10, 25, 100 & 250 and start from just £93.09 – including card holders and clips.

Branded lanyards and badge reels

Why not print your school or college’s name or logo onto customised lanyards and badge reels for more stand out? This always impresses visitors and school officials.

 

Safeguard your school with school visitor passes

It’s the new school term, have you got everything you need for the year ahead? The start of September often has schools and colleges looking at security on their premises with fresh eyes, which includes looking at school visitor passes.

If you’re an educational establishment, having adequate security measures in place to safeguard pupils and staff is paramount. Are you meeting your health & safety responsibilities and fulfilling your duty of care by having an up-to-date signing in system for visitors, parents and contractors?

 

School visitor passes
Keep track of all visitors to your premises

School visitor passes and signing-in systems are a quick and easy way of identifying visitors and recording their details – and are very inexpensive. You can buy off-the-shelf packages (often known as passes ‘in system’) which include 200 pre-numbered passes, writing board, wallet tower, pen set and visitor wallets and clips from £64.40.

The visitor passes system records the names and details of all visitors to your school or college and provides a paper pass or badge for them to wear whilst on the premises. The details form a timed and dated fire register, ensuring you meet your health & safety regulations and fulfil your duty of care. A discrete sheet keeps each visitor’s details confidential.

Customise passes to your own requirements

As well as standard visitor and contractor ‘in system’ passes, you can also design school visitor passes to include your school’s colours and logo, or incorporate specific health and safety regulations or safety and fire evacuation details. You might want to list prohibited items for example, or use different colours to highlight different access rights – useful for when contractors are on-site, and you only want them to access specific areas.

Car park pass for schools
Eliminate parking problems with car park permits

Invest in car park passes to ease parking issues

Parking is often a hot topic of debate in schools. Ensure that staff and visitors park where they should by providing car park passes. The Card Network provides custom printed car park passes (so you can incorporate your own branding) from £64.50 for 100. These are lightweight polyester cards that are designed to withstand UV and low & high temperatures.

The Card Network can customise passes to any requirement. Please contact us for a quote.