Case Study : South Hetton Primary, Durham, Visitor Management

South Hetton is a medium sized primary school based on the outskirts of Durham, with approx 300 pupils and a nursery. It is the only school in the village and its places are always in demand. It’s very much a community based school dedicated to providing a happy and secure environment for everyone.

SG World and South Hetton have enjoyed a good working relationship for many years, having provided a paper based visitor pass system and ID cards for the school staff. The local account managers like to maintain good links with customers and make sure they understand the issues schools are facing and how SG World can help. In one of these meetings Peter Cox, SG World Sales Manager, sat down with Liz Hesslewood, School Business Manager and discussed visitor management. Like most school administration staff, Liz runs a very busy schedule and was very receptive to ways of working more efficiently – she felt moving to a visitor touchscreen in the reception was potentially a good move in this direction. South Hetton has a relatively small reception which could quickly become pretty crowded when registering and badging a number of visitors at once. Obviously the school reception is usually the place where that important first impression is formed, so schools want to ensure visitors are welcomed and registered quickly and professionally.

VisIT ED is a visitor and staff touchscreen check-in system designed specifically for schools. It allows visitors to check in, producing a personalised ID badge which can be scanned on entrance and exit. The system provides a ‘one click’ report of people on site in the case of an emergency and a comprehensive reporting function to help schools track visitors. VisIT ED can also track staff and regular visitors can be pre-booked to minimise bottlenecks at reception. The touchscreen fulfils an important role in safeguarding, site health and safety and has the flexibility to display school information on screen using school colours and badges.
South Hetton are finding VisIT ED equally useful in tracking staff entrance/exit as well as visitors. The school recently invested in a new extension and the additional exit points made it tricky to keep track of staff exiting and entering the building. This is essential information to have in the event of an emergency evacuation situation, helping schools fulfil their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The school wanted an easy way to ensure the fire regulations were covered as the traditional In/Out Slide Board wasn’t being used consistently. There’s also a daily diary system in place where the teachers note all of their engagements but sometimes plans change at very short notice – maybe the school bus is delayed and in the event of an emergency there’s no central record that the class hasn’t vacated the building.

In addition to booking in visitors, VisIT ED has a number of features designed to assist schools with tracking latecomers and unauthorised absences. South Hetton were focusing on student punctuality and trying to track latecomers. Liz liked the idea of using the touchscreen to register parents arriving with latecomers to really highlight the issue and producing the paper slip as an additional takeaway reminder for repeat offenders.
“We don’t have a large problem with latecomers but we are a small school so even a small number of persistent offenders can have a negative effect on the attendance statistics. We know that this is an area Ofsted focuses on. Although a school won’t be directly penalised for its latecomers record, Ofsted do expect it to demonstrate measures designed to reduce unauthorised absence and latecomers; we feel VisitED is already contributing here as we’ve seen some promising initial results.”

We spoke to Liz during the half term break,when she explained the problem with trying to keep track of in and outs without a good system to help you.
“ It can be pretty manic in reception during the first day back after the holidays. Parents tend to drop in with questions about the new term and we also have a school trip planned to Beamish, usually you would expect the queue to come out of the door. In this situation it’s difficult to keep track of latecomers. VisIT ED lets parents sign in for the latecomer and issue a confirmation slip which the child takes into class letting the teacher know the central records have been updated.
“The parents are used to the system and like it. For example it really comes into its own on our weekly reading day when the parents come in to sit and read with the children. The pre-register function means the passes are pre-prepared and nobody needs to wait around reception to be booked in.”

With SG World, the customer service is just as important as the product. In addition to our free UK Helpdesk support, the customer gets regular check up calls after the installation just to check everything is OK. “I really appreciated the follow up phone calls, it really made us feel we were in safe hands,” said Liz.

Peter Cox commented: “I think South Hetton’s experience just goes to show that there’s no reason why smaller schools should feel that a visitor touchscreen is only suitable for larger urban schools. Over the long term, it actually proves very cost effective against a paper based solution. SG World are on hand with all of the support needed to install and maintain the system and even design screen graphics using your school logo’s and colours to really make the screen an integral part of the reception, as well as daily school life.”

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