Highlights from the first Twitter #EdFinChat of 2020

The first Twitter #EdFinChat discussion of 2020 was focused on the vitally important subject of keeping pupils and staff safe and site security, co-hosted by Paul Timm PSP, a School Security Consultant, Author and Keynote Speaker. The chat questions shared in advance covered school and district culture, professional development for students and staff, teamwork, communication systems, collaboration with agencies and partners, physical security measures and systems and ending with the opportunity to ask the expert.

It was a great discussion with lots of useful ideas and good practice shared.

R J Gravel started by sharing “We are consistently having conversations with our students and staff, and encouraging all of our community members to share ideas that might help make our schools safer. Our “See Something, Say Something” campaign has been instrumental in creating a culture of safety. #EdFinChat”. It sounds like a great way to involve the whole school community in site safety.

Communication to all staff of safety procedures and processes is essential. Staff training days are an ideal time to share reminders or new initiatives, but always remember to update those who are not there. Paul Timm shared a useful tip “Please remember to tell teachers & staff what measures you are putting in place. Keep your education about those measures concise. Encourage them to make a personal investment in school safety.

In my experience regular safety practice drills followed by a debrief with key staff to share what went well and what could be better or needs improving work well. Chris Wildman shared an important tip on making sure everyone receives vital information: “Also remembering to include substitute teachers in the training!” – it is easy to miss someone. It is worth considering keeping a log with dates of when each member of staff (employed or contracted) has completed essential training.

Paul Timm tweeted “High School students (and maybe Middle School students) should also be on your parent notification systems. They are frequently away from the building for vocational purposes and athletic events.

I replied querying whether this was a practice used by UK schools and Paul replied with a useful follow up “Be careful, Hayley. The answer is a qualified yes. I like to make sure they are helping with social media mass notification. Use collaboration + consensus in how much they will be involved.” It is a strategy worth considering but requires carefully thinking through.

R J Gravel share an interesting idea which would work well for large or complex sites, “This summer we co-sponsored a scavenger hunt with all shifts of both the police and fire departments in Glenview. The exercise allowed all safety personnel to become familiar with our school footprint.” This is a great way for those that need to know the site, to learn it in a fun and community orientated way.

Pete Sullivan shared a useful insight “One thing I have learned from experts like @SchoolSecurity is that physical barriers like vestibules are only as effective as the systems and procedures you have in place to limit access while screening visitors.” This is an important concept to consider in school safety procedures and testing – are your procedures effective enough to ensure the physical barriers can do what they are designed for?

We should focus on ensuring streamlined communication and effective access controls and practices. As Paul Timm tweeted “Most real vulnerabilities involve issues with communication systems and access control measures/practices. Focus on those two areas and you are headed in the right direction!” If you look at your potential risks and pressure points, can you remove or reduce them?

These are just a few highlights that were shared in the chat. If you would like to read more search the #EdFinChat hashtag on Twitter.

The team will be back on 6 February 2020 for the next discussion which will focus on strategic decision-making using data.

It is brilliant to have the opportunity to share knowledge and practice internationally, why not spare an hour and join in the next chat, because as school business professionals you are the light bringers, the up-lifters and those who can shake up the game to shift the world around you, together we can #bethechange