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The importance of fencing in UK schools

Brownlow Primary School received £3,000 worth of constructing on the school's perimeter fencing

Posted by Debbie Botham | February 26, 2019 | Security & safety

Last year, Brownlow Primary School in Leicestershire entered and won a national poetry competition. The grand prize was £3,000 worth of constructing on the school’s perimeter fencing. 

The resulting high-quality fencing around the school is seamless, stylish and architecturally appropriate to the establishment’s needs. The idea is that it can foster a safe learning environment for all the students and teachers who attend the school on a daily basis. 

Brownlow isn’t the only educational institution resorting to alternative funding because of dwindling educational budgets, as  The Guardian points out that schools across the country continue to feel the pinch. This means that it can be extremely challenging for educational institutions to make sure their schools are safe while also aesthetically pleasing — on top of the myriad of other concerns surrounding the education of their pupils. But why are fences so necessary for schools and how should we view them structurally? Here are some points to consider: 

Fences keep children safe from outsiders

The Independent notes that it has been more and more common for schools to be surrounded by high and forbidding fences over the past 20 years. Despite the often-intimidating appearance of these fences, they have largely been built to keep unwanted people off the premises. As far back as 1996, the Department of Education mandated these measures to safeguard children from threats like intruders, thieves and child predators.

Moreover, reports that there were over 1,000 child abductions and kidnapping offences between 2014 and 2015. School administrators are increasing security measures as there is a growing number of cases involving arson including at the prestigious Garibaldi in Mansfield school. 

Fences help keep students on school grounds during school hours 

Another function of school fencing is to keep students inside school. That's because some students do have the tendency to skip classes, especially for subjects that they do not like. The BBC reports that truancy is a big problem among UK schools and it’s on the rise. Truancy is when children miss school on a regular basis for no reason. According to the latest figures from the Department of Education, one in 10 school children are persistent absentees. Research also shows that secondary schools had a higher rate of absenteeism than primary schools. 

Installing high fences can also help a school show outsiders and parents just how dedicated they are to their students' and employees' safety and welfare

Fences act as a school's facade to outsiders and prospective students 

Installing high fences can also help a school show outsiders and parents just how dedicated they are to their students' and employees' safety and welfare. Good security measures like higher fences can make a school look attractive to parents of current and prospective students. However, it's important to note that fences have often had negative connotations because of how cold and limiting they look — which is why it's also important to look at the aesthetic value of a school's fencing.

Design standards and considerations for school fencing

For schools looking to build new or update old fencing, they need to understand that there are design and access standards that need to be followed when deciding on the best courses of action for their respective grounds. 

For starters, schools need to make sure they choose the right materials for their perimeter fences. Chain links have always been a popular choice for decades as this type of fencing is low cost and versatile. But today, it is only recommended for low-risk schools that do not need to be secure, while other schools can get more creative. There are an abundance of fence panels on Screwfix that come in all shapes and sizes. There are wood panels, wave-top lattice panels and closeboard fence panels that will keep intruders out and students in, without making the school grounds look too cold or disconnected from its surrounding environment. Ultimately, the choice depends on the school’s privacy and security needs. 

Moreover, school fences can also be designed to commemorate, promote and foster school spirit. Something as simple as painting them a certain colour or adding stylistic elements reminiscent of the school's emblem can go a long way. 

Lastly, the fences need to be correctly installed, because poorly installed fences are easier to breach and will most likely be in need of repairs and maintenance. Be sure to adhere to local building codes as well, and avoid sharp fencing components that can harm those in or out of the school perimeter.

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