Electronic sign in and visitor management systems are a relatively new phenomenon in education. They came about due to the increased need to safeguard children in schools; but since their early inception, they have evolved into much more than just a tool for protection. With no concrete guidance from Ofsted, there are a lot of schools panicking that they are not doing enough – or the right thing – when it comes to managing DBS checks.
Keeping an accurate Single Central Record (SCR) for DBS checks is an essential part of ensuring child safety, but to date, there is no national guidance on the format for the SCR. By using a sign in system as your SCR, schools can ensure that every visitor and staff member has had the necessary checks completed.
Schools also perform rolling DBS checks – every three or five years for staff, and every three months for on-site contractors. The way in which this is managed differs from school to school, and is usually built up from various legacy processes and changing guidance from Ofsted.
Because sign-in systems can manage a school’s SCR, they can also easily manage when DBS checks are due to expire and when they need to be completed electronically through notifications and alerts. This not only saves administrators a lot of time trying to track them manually, it can also remove a lot of the nerves surrounding DBS management.
It’s not just safeguarding, though, where sign in systems are having an impact; for example, when children arrive late it’s easy for them to fall through the gaps and head straight to class. Schools can utilise their sign in system to provide late passes, reasons for lateness and get photos as evidence to make sure individual attendance targets are kept well on track.
Some schools have even found that by having a sign in solution for late arriving pupils it has boosted attendance as Ann Davey, executive head teacher at Havelock Schools Trust, explains: “With the best will in the world, lateness does happen. What we’ve found though, is by having a late sign in system it’s actually helping to reduce the number of children who are late.”
The ability to manipulate and utilise this attendance information allows schools to provide instant reports, with feedback sent daily to heads of year detailing late arriving pupils, and means that attendance officers have much better access to accurate data when monitoring performance.
Accurate data, coupled with an integration into a school’s MIS, gives schools complete control when it comes to managing emergency evacuation situations. Evacuations can be slow, disorganised and inefficient; but accounting for all staff, students and visitors following an evacuation is critical. Confusion in the assembly areas can lead to delays in rescuing anyone trapped in the building, or unnecessary and dangerous search-and-rescue operations.
No longer do staff have to collect all the various books to tell them who is on-site - sign in systems can provide all this information from one location. Schools can either print a list or access it through any mobile device. This gives schools real time information as to who is on-site across multiple locations.
In schools with multiple entry points, it can be difficult for staff to come to the main reception to sign in every day, resulting in a lot of wasted time being spent wandering the corridors. Because of this, staff often forget to sign in or out, or just don’t have the time do it, as getting to class is their number one priority.
As a result, sign in information held at reception in a school often simply doesn’t correlate with who is actually on site. By utilising a school’s existing ID cards, staff can come in at whichever door is easiest for them, they just scan their card and this accurately shows that they have signed in, allowing them to immediately focus on teaching and learning.
We’ve seen a huge change in the education landscape in recent years. The formulation of multi-academy trusts (MATs) has meant there are now often several people in an organisation who work across different sites, from executive head teachers right through to facilities managers. With so many staff members in and out across multiple sites it can be hard to keep track and know exactly where they are based.
By hosting a sign in and visitor management system on a school’s own server, or virtually on the cloud, it allows communication between systems that are on separate physical networks to facilitate the sharing of data between multiple systems in real time.
Each individual school system can remain a self-contained unit, reporting various collections of data to one central database. As such, each system can then be configured in a completely individual manner, using different integrations, modules and settings specific to that site.
This MAT-centric approach gives schools greater flexibility to manage cross site reporting and means MATs can: