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TAC UK: Security not education is parents’ top priority

August 2009 by TAC UK

A detailed survey into parents perceptions of security in schools published today by TAC UK - the building management and energy services business of Schneider Electric - reveals that security, not the standard of education or attainment, is the main concern for parents of primary and secondary school pupils in the UK.
Bullying - physical, verbal and increasingly ‘cyber’ (using mobile phones &/or the internet) - school trespassers and physical attack involving knives and guns were cited as the main areas of concern by parents.

There was a significant difference between the responses of primary and secondary schoolchildren’s parents, with 11% fewer secondary schoolchildren’s parents saying they felt their child was “very safe” at school.

Looking at secondary schoolchildren parents’ responses regarding what made them “Worried” or “Very Worried”:

• 51% said cyber bullying using mobile phones or the internet made them “Worried” or “Very Worried”

• 48% said pupils carrying knives in school

• 45% said pupils threatening someone with a weapon

• 44% said pupils using a knife against someone

• 48% said drug use

• 46% said drug dealing

• 41% said alcohol use

• 31% said pupils firing a gun at someone

Other interesting findings were the proportion of parents who did not know which security measures were in place at their child’s school, and also who felt they were not provided with enough information about levels of crime and safety in school.

The most widely used security measure that parents were aware of was anti-bullying programmes at 76%, although this figure could have been expected to be higher given that in TAC UK’s 2007 survey of teachers, 83% reported the use of anti-bullying programmes in their school.

Commenting on the survey findings, TAC UK Director Richard Strode said: “It is damning that parents are more concerned about the security of their children while at school, rather than the standard of education they receive. Many schools do need to improve their security solutions, although for some the answer may simply be to fill the knowledge gap and tell parents about the security measures already in place and how effective they are.”

Neil Wilson, Headteacher at Newall Green High School in Wythenshawe, Manchester, added: “A secure and safe school environment is fundamental to our pupils being able to make the most of their education. Since we introduced CCTV cameras throughout the school grounds, corridors and classrooms, pupil attainment levels have risen and the number of incidents has fallen.

“The operating system supports everyone, staff and students. It is used both as a monitoring solution and a teacher development tool, where lessons are recorded and used in e-portfolios and as part of learning and teaching - such as a lesson recap.”

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