School access control: what to consider

Schools must be safe and secure; effective access control ensures the movement of people, assets and vehicles is managed, monitored and restricted in and around education sites, minimising security risks. From gates and access points to automation and identification devices, we’ve put together some key areas to consider for effective access control for schools.


Being aware of the potential risks facing your site helps you devise a comprehensive access control strategy. Schools can attract a range of unwanted guests, from vandals to thieves and other intruders. Poorly planned or unmaintained access control systems put buildings, people and valuables at risk. To mitigate such risks, it is important for gates to be properly locked and monitored, whether by a member of staff, CCTV or other surveillance tools.

If you are not already aware of the risks on your site, we recommend that you undertake a comprehensive risk assessment, considering both the immediate and long-term use of the site. During this process it is important to understand how access points fit in with other aspects of your schools perimeter security, such as fencing, CCTV and monitoring systems.

Access points

When thinking about the access points to an educational site, consider location and number of entrances required . All access points should provide a clear and direct path to the main reception and be part of a greater, robust perimeter. Moreover, keeping the number of access points to a minimum maintains control of visitor movement.

For larger schools, one or two additional access points can alleviate potentially dangerous congestion at the start and end of the school day when students, staff and parents are entering and exiting the site . These should be locked during the day to keep students on site and prevent intruders gaining access to school grounds.

Vehicular and pedestrian traffic

Safety experts Secured by Design (SBD) recommend one entrance at the perimeter of a school site with separate vehicular and pedestrian access routes. Additionally, all visitors should be clearly directed to main reception, if pedestrians are likely to walk past the car park entrance first, it is important to ensure that signage clearly directs them towards the pedestrian entrance.

Manual and automated gates

The design, height and construction of gates must all be considered so as not to compromise the overall security of a school, whether for an automated or manual gate. While automated gates offer more control, manual gates should not be overlooked. Along with being easier to install and usually a lower cost than automated gates, they don’t rely on power, so if your site’s supply is cut off they provide a hassle-free exit. Furthermore, gates that are only used at the start and end of the day can be easily locked manually by staff.

Automated gates offer ample flexibility, including access control tools such as remote controls, keypads and keycards to increase your school’s security, plus, as they’re robust and heavy, they are incredibly challenging to force open. Automated gates also offer the option to have either fully automated gates or a hybrid of manned and automatic security, with staff able to allow visitors access via intercom or video system.

Gate control

When installing automatic gates, it is important to consider how they will be controlled. They should simultaneously offer easy access for staff but restrict access for visitors. Smart cards, swipe cards, proximity cards and PIN pads provide straightforward and quick entrance for staff, while visitor access can be controlled using an intercom or video system.

Find out more about Jacksons’ gate solutions here.

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