Guidelines for school fencing and gates

Schools face many challenges when it comes to creating an environment that is safe and secure but also welcoming for pupils, staff and visitors. We’ve created some guidelines to help create a balanced solution that is also sustainable, relieving pressure on tightening budgets.

What to Consider When Choosing Perimeter Fencing

It is preferable that the perimeter fencing allows clear views over the buildings and grounds from surrounding land and buildings to deter unauthorised entry and exit from the school, bullying and anti-social behaviour.

In some cases there might be a requirement to shield students from unwanted attention from outside the boundary or control the projection of noise into or from the school; these areas need to be identified as part of the risk assessment.

The height of the fence will ultimately be determined by your needs, your site, local circumstances, the function of the fencing required and the risk you are managing.

Demarcation and controlling the flow of people and vehicles:

  • Steel or timber fencing of between 1.2m and 1.6m in height
  • Security: Steel or timber fencing of between 1.8m and 2.4m in height
  • Whether of timber or steel construction, pales should be securely fixed to the frame/rails
  • Ensure all fixings employed in the panel or pale to rail construction are either welded or of galvanised steel or stainless steel with a design life to match the fence or gate

School Access Control & Gates

Wherever practical, separate access points should be provided for people and vehicles to ensure the safe flow of both to and from the school boundary.

Pedestrian Gates:


  • Pedestrian gates should be of a framed design and employ galvanised adjustable hinges and fixings mounted behind the attack face. On outward opening gates, where the hinges/brace is mounted on the attack face, fixings should be of a galvanised ‘blind’ coach bolt design
  • All pedestrian gates should be fitted with locks and fixing features should match that of the fence

Vehicular Gates:


  • Vehicular gates should be inward opening, of substantial framed construction and employ galvanised adjustable hinges and fixings mounted behind the attack face.
  • They should be fitted with a galvanised drop bolts and the facility for padlocking (manual gates) or electro-mechanical locking (automated gates) and employ mechanical/electro-mechanical devices as applicable to hold gate leaves in the open position. The gate design and fixing features should match that of the fence
  • Where automated gates are used, ensure they are CE marked and compliant with EU Directive 2006/42/EC; as important, the gates should be installed by Gate Safe Aware installers and maintained regularly for safe, reliable operation. It’s worth noting that since January 2010, eight automated gate accidents involving children have been reported in the UK, two of which were fatalities while the remainder resulted in children being trapped by the gates. Two of these incidents occurred in schools

Fencing and gates for schools with lower and standard risks:


  • Fence panels of a pale/slat design in timber or steel should be oriented vertically to avoid step-up points for climbing and able to resist being pried off/away. If of timber construction, pales should be no less than 25mm thick or in the case of steel, a wall thickness of no less than 1.5mm
  • Whether of timber or steel construction, pales should be securely fixed to the frame/rails
  • Fence panels of welded mesh design should feature small gaps between the horizontal and vertical mesh strands to resist climbing. The method of fixing between the panel and rails and posts should create a secure mechanical bond so that panels/slats cannot be easily removed and in addition should provide a linking effect where each panel and post acts with the next to resist attack by pushing and pulling
  • Ensure all fixings employed in the panel or pale to rail construction are either welded or of galvanised steel or stainless steel with a design life to match the fence or gate
  • Fence heights should be a minimum of 1.8m overall and be capable of raking or stepping to maintain its height over different ground levels without resulting in gaps underneath
  • The tops of timber fences should finish flush with their neighbouring posts and a securely fixed capping rail employed to run across the fence and posts to affect a continuous chain
  • The tops/top rail/capping of fencing and gates should be of a design able to accommodate a security topping where necessary to deter attempts to scale over into the school grounds
  • Posts should allow the construction of an unbroken panel to post chain and be of a non-brittle material. The dimensions of the timber or steel post should be matched not only to the fence height and type but also to loading factors the fence will be subject to including wind and pushing. Consider whether the posts will be used to mount other security measures such as CCTV cameras or lighting as these will need to be specified at the design stage

Adding security toppings and spikes to a school fence

For schools in higher risk areas or those with repeated issues with climbing, it may be necessary to add spikes to a school fence. There are no legal restrictions or strict rules around the installation of security toppings to school fences, but we recommend that the fence is no less than 2 metres high, in order to prevent anyone accidentally coming into contact with the spikes. Be cautious of adding them in highly visible areas such as around the entrance or the playground, as they could impact the feel of the school and create a prison-like environment. Consider using them sparingly or in areas that are less visible, but make sure that you use signs to warn people of their presence, which also act as a deterrent themselves.

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