5 Best Practice Requirements for School Visitor Management
Ofsted doesn’t give any specific advice on how to check in your visitors other than requiring a school to have “policy and procedures for ensuring that visitors to the school are suitable and checked and monitored as appropriate”.
However, there are a number of requirements which help keep your school compliant with Health and Safety regulations and GDPR as well as presenting a professional image to your visitors (and Ofsted inspectors!). If you are using a photocopied, sign-in sheet, stickers or even a ring bound visitor book from Office Direct, you may be falling short of some of these standards.
1. Complying with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the legislation which makes sure that workers are not put into any unnecessary danger when they are at work. Enforced by the Health and Safety Executive, it places duties on employers to meet certain conditions and outlines their duty of care. This duty of care does not just relate to the employees and staff of an organisation, but also any visitors, guests, clients or contractors who are visiting the premises.
One good way of fulfilling this duty is by making visitors aware of any important health and safety information about your school. This can be printed on the reverse of your visitor ID badge and ideally signed to signify understanding.
When GDPR was first introduced there was a lot of confusion over the situation with visitor sign in and data privacy. There was a potential issue that the personal details collected in a visitor book were effectively on display to anyone in your reception area and therefore not GDPR compliant. Some electronic visitor management providers were happy to encourage the myth that the only option was to abandon a paper-based visitor book in favour of a touchscreen-based system.
However, a good visitor pass book design will protect the privacy of the people who have already signed in. So, whether you prefer a paper pass or visitor touchscreen, there will be a GDPR-safe visitor management system out there for you.
3. School Security
As part of their safeguarding policy many schools encourage pupils and staff to politely call out a stranger on the premises not wearing a valid ID badge. This means you need to be giving visitors a clearly identifiable badge and preferably one which isn’t easily replicated for potential misuse.
4. Creating a Record
Do you know how many visitors are in your school building right now?... how about yesterday?... how about 23rd July 2011? There are many situations where a school may need an accurate historic record of who was on site over a specific time period e.g. investigating a past safeguarding issue. If you don’t have a dated, numbered record you won’t be able to access this information, potentially when you really need it most.
5. Fire Evacuation
A robust visitor pass book and record will give you a roll call for evacuating the school building. A professionally laid out visitor book will clearly signal to visitors that you take safety seriously and expect them to fill in their details so you have all the information you need in the event of an emergency.
And don't forget . . .
Last but not least, your reception area is usually the first experience people have of your school. A professional visitor check-in book is an easy, inexpensive way to help make a positive first impression. You can even have it branded with your school badge and colours.