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As a school bursar, no day is ever the same. In the morning you could be setting cash flow projections for the coming year, while the afternoon is spent seeking tenders to help implement your security policy. But while variety is the spice of life, juggling so many responsibilities can also cause a fair amount of stress.
In this blog, we discuss questions that you should be asking potential security providers to take the worry out of protecting your school, staff and pupils.
Are your security staff DBS checked?
Background checks are all part of any school’s employment policy. However, you don’t have as much control over who contractors employ. So it would be rather counter-intuitive to hire a security installer that doesn’t conduct in-depth vetting of staff. A lot of security firms also use subcontractors, which means you have less control over the types of people who enter the school grounds during site visits and installations.
Before you ask, all TSI staff are carefully vetted and we don’t outsource any work to subcontractors – all the services we provide are taken care of in-house.
Do you have experience of installing security in educational establishments like ours?
Again, it may seem like an obvious question but not every security firm has experience working in schools. And not every school security specialist has experience of working in elite schools which have listed buildings.
Listed and heritage buildings provide unique challenges to security providers (and extra stress to bursars!) so it’s important to make sure the firm you commission has worked on a number of similar projects in the past.
Kate Scott, Sales Manager for TSI, says: “A firm that has experience installing security in an educational establishment will be able to advise the bursar on exactly what is needed to meet insurers requirements – whether that’s safes for pupils to store expensive goods or alarms to protect the school premises- but also avoid unnecessary costs.
“If your buildings are listed it’s important that your security firm has expertise in ensuring that the equipment blends in and doesn’t have any impact on the building’s appearance or cause structural damage.”
Do you understand the insurers’ exact requirements?
Obviously, as a Bursar you have a solid background in finance but, even for finance professionals, insurance jargon can be difficult to understand. The best security firms will have project managers who are well versed in the “language” of insurance, who can liaise with your insurance provider.
Kate, who has decades of insurance experience, says: “Apparently we speak a different language in the insurance world! So you need a security firm that understands the individual requirements set by the insurer to create the most appropriate solution. The better property is protected, the lower the risk to the insurer and that can result in lower premiums.”
What security service does your firm actually provide?
Security is a broad term and can include everything from access control to intruder alarms, fire protection and CCTV. However not every provider will offer the entire range of services themselves. Bursars often have the frustrating experience of having to find several different suppliers to provide an overall solution. This obviously adds complications at every stage of implementing and maintaining a security system.
Kate says: “It’s important to ask if your provider can do everything under one roof – so if anything goes wrong you’re just going to one person. It’s much easier if it’s one company that’s doing it all, rather than sourcing one company for fire protection, another for CCTV and then another to provide a monitoring service.
“At TSI we cover it all – creating a system that is bespoke to your school, meets your insurers’ needs and helps to keep your premium costs down. We also provide annual maintenance checks. We actually contact you to arrange it, so you don’t have to worry about remembering when it’s due.”
Get the right answers
If your security provider doesn’t give the right answers to these questions, then it’s definitely time to look elsewhere. Security is a growing issue for schools and any breach can have serious consequences, whether that’s reputational damage or much worse.