Student and staff safety is a primary concern for education establishments. With many options and requirements to consider, this guide has been put together to help ensure you choose the school visitor management system that is right for you.
This guide includes:
UK education establishments have a legal obligation to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of individuals whilst on their premises.
Education providers have a statutory Duty of Care to “safeguard” learners and protect staff from harm, abuse or nuisance during school hours and extra curriculum activities. Schools, colleges and universities are under constant threat from potential criminals if steps are not taken to ensure the safety and security of their people, property and premises.
Visitor management is an effective method of maintaining a high level of security within your organisation, by preventing unauthorised site access to help reduce risks including:
• Disruptions due to unexpected visitors
• Property theft and vandalism
• Potential child abduction
• Sexual predators gaining site access
A clear, easy to enforce visitor policy is a common practice implemented to ensure schools, colleges and universities are aware of the individuals on their premises. An effective visitor management system can then be used to control visitors as well as help protect staff and students from potential harm.
The most effective visitor management systems require all visitors to report to reception to verify their identity upon arrival, where they are issued a visitor badge to be worn as a form of identification whilst on the premises. They would then be required to sign out at reception prior to departure, providing a robust method of controlling exactly who is on the premises.
Issuing visitors with a badge, to be displayed on their person at all times, ensures authorised visitors are clearly identifiable whilst in the building. This allows for the easy identification of any unauthorised visitor who can be question and/or removed from the site, helping to increase security.
Visitor management solutions are available in number of forms. Which type of system is right for you will depend on a number of factors including the number of visitors you receive, the size of your site(s) and budget.
The visitor management solution best suited to your organisation will depend on a number of factors and your particular requirements. Whichever type of solution you implement, we have identified some key elements and best practices for maintaining the highest levels of security:
- Ensure all visitors report to your front desk upon arrival
- Issue all visitors with an identification badge to be worn at all times
- Ensure all visitors report to the front desk upon departure
Carrying out the above steps will ensure that all authorised visitors are identifiable whilst on site and any unauthorised individuals may be quickly identified and subsequently dealt with appropriately, enhancing your on-site security.
It is also recommended for security purposes that education establishments keep an up to date record of all visitors. Most visitor management solutions will provide this facility whether as a maintained manual log or digitally
Suggested Visitor Policy Framework
Upon Visitor Arrival
Upon arrival to your school, college or university, visitors should be presented with clear instructions as to correct procedure and where to report to. Unmonitored entrances should be kept locked and visitors required to sign-in at reception to verify their identity.
Whilst on the Premises
Once the appropriate checks are complete and authorisation has been granted, visitors should be issued with a visitors’ pass or badge, which should be displayed on their person at all times. This helps staff and students identify visitors from unauthorised individuals, helping to increase site security.
Upon Visitor Departure
Prior to visitor departure, they should be required to sign-out and return their visitor pass or badge. This allows staff to maintain accurate visitor records, prevents badges being misused and prevents any unauthorised student removal from the premises.
Visitor records play a key role in ensuring the security of your school, college or university, as well as safety of individuals on site. If an incident occurs on the premises, visitor records can be vital in helping to eliminate individuals from an investigation. Maintained visitor records also provide an up to date fire evacuation list and assurance that you are fulfilling your Duty of Care by accounting for visitors on your site should an emergency arise.
Types of Visitor Management
Manual Visitor Management Systems
Manual visitor management systems are a useful, cost-effective tool for manually controlling your visitors. Most suitable for establishments that receive a low to medium volume of visitors, these systems require visitors to fill in their details (such as Name, Time-in and Vehicle Registration) into a Visitor Book upon their arrival at your premises.
Visitors are then issued with a pass or badge, which they are required to display on their person at all times. This helps to ensure that all authorised visitors are easily identifiable whilst on site.
Manual visitor management systems can be personalised to encorporate your organisation’s name, corporate identity and logo. This helps you to portray a professional image and create that all important positive first impression.
Visitor Management Software
Visitor management software is an effective tool used by organisations that receive a medium to high number of visitors, or are based over multiple sites. Similar to manual systems, visitor management software requires data input from either key personnel situated on your front desk or visitors themselves.
Information gathered can be customised to meet your organisation’s specific requirements and appropriate records (CRB checks, for instance) can be stored digitally in a database alongside visitor records for as long as required.
As information is stored, either locally on your organisation’s servers or securely over the internet, repeat visitors can be quickly and efficiently signed-in at any site without the need to take their details again, saving time and resources. Additional information, such as signature and photograph, can also be collected digitally (with the aid of additional
hardware) and stored securely on the system, further enhancing security.
As per best practice guidelines, all visitors should be issued with a visitor badge, or pass, upon arrival at your premises and required to wear it at all times. The badge should then be returned to point of issue prior to departure. This helps organisations to effectively control their visitors and ensure individuals are instantly identifiable whilst on site.
Visitor badges are available in a number of different forms; which type of badge would best suit your organisation depends on what type of visitor management system you wish to implement, any other specific requirements you may have and your budget.
Types of Badges
Available as adhesive stickers or printed cards, these badges often simply have ‘visitor’ printed on them, enabling a basic form of identification. This economy budget solution does not provide much security as badges may be easily replicated and misused.
Handwritten Paper Passes
Manually completed by visitors themselves, paper passes provide an effective method of managing visitors whilst remaining cost-efficient. Systems can be personalised to include your branding, health and safety information and any specific visitor instructions.
Disposable Printed Badges
Used in conjunction with visitor management software, disposable paper badges can incorporate specific information such as visitor name, company and photograph. This form of photo identification is secure and printed quickly using a compatible printer.
Plastic ID Cards
Made of a durable PVC material, plastic cards provide an ideal solution to organisations requiring visitor badges to be used for a significant length of time, or on a frequent basis. For example, a contractor working on a school building project for several months may be issued with a plastic photo ID card, created using the organisation’s visitor management software system, to eliminate repetitive administration work.
Visitor badges are usually issued with a badge holder and lanyard, to be worn around the visitor’s neck; providing ID accessories is a cost effective method of ensuring identification is displayed clearly by visitors.
There are no set rules as to how a visitor badge should look however, we recommend including a number of elements to help increase security and better manage your visitors. These are as follows:
• Visitor Name
• Date/Expiry Date of the Badge
• Visitor Type (e.g. Customer, Supplier, Temporary Staff)
• Colour coded badges (to identify visitor type)
• Health and safety guidelines printed on the pass (reverse)
Badge design elements should be arranged clearly, be easily legible from a short distance and follow a set template. Following these practices will enable visitors to be easily identified and ensure badges can be produced quickly, allowing you to control visitors efficiently.