Swakeleys are a high achievening secondary school with a modern approach, where behaviour and discipline are good and values of tolerance and respect are promoted. A focus on high quality teaching earned them an 'Outstanding' grade from Ofsted in 2013 and helps them to ensure lessons are engaging, interactive and fun. These high standards reach across all aspects of school life including the way visitors are managed.
Helen Manwaring is the School Business Manager. She knows first-hand of what is required to support the smooth operation of a busy school like Swakeleys on a daily basis.
"We found that our previous carbonised visitor management books didn’t always pick up very light handwriting, or people pushed too heavily onto the paper," Helen explains. "Sometimes visitors picked up the wrong pass, too. We operate from a small but busy reception area, so it was difficult when large groups of visitors arrived in the building."
Helen had a meeting with SG World Sales Executive Alexander Alleyne, where VisIT ED was discussed. VisIT ED is a visitor and staff touchscreen check-in system designed specifically for schools, allowing visitors to check in, producing a personalised ID badge which can also 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 queues 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. Swakeleys’ decided that VisIT ED was the best option for them and are very pleased with how it is working with their school.
Helen explains: "Moving to the touch screen option has facilitated us an awful lot. It means that we can now pre-book our visitors and they’re always ready to log in and go to their destination in the school. We know exactly who they’re visiting, we get a photo of them and they are all easily recognisable, thanks to the printed lanyard with the photo included."
Swakeleys are proud of their achievements and work hard to create a good first impression and a warm welcome for school visitors.
"Our VisIT ED system – with the touchscreen, small printer and set of lanyards in our reception – looks very professional and gives a polished look to the area," Helen says. "Our own personalised screen is very ‘Swakeleys’, a nice image that greets our visitors. It is very quick and easy to use," Helen continues. "Visitors see themselves pre-booked onto the system and all they then have to do is type in their first initial onto the screen and pop the printed pass into their lanyard.
"VisIT ED is hitting the big names in education!" Helen continues. "We’ve been successful in securing the building of a new school and have had members of the Department of Education visit the site. They have been very impressed with the product and asked where it is from. They’re frequent visitors and are quite impressed that their names always pop-up on the screen as pre-booked."
VisIT ED assists with a number of other crucial aspects, including meeting Health and Safety legislation and managing contractors. Helen explains: "We regularly have work undertaken on our current building which contains some asbestos. Having our own health and safety regulations included and the reporting feature for contractors is very useful for us. VisIT is helping with our safeguarding and risk management, certainly with the photo that the touchscreen takes of the visitor on their arrival. Straight away, you have a descriptive of each visitor on site.
"VisIT ED is invaluable to us in the event of a fire," Helen continues. "We’ve had three fire evacuations since it was installed, which the fire log works brilliantly for. It keeps a list on the computer of all visitors on-site, which prints very quickly, meaning less worry while the alarms are sounding. With use of the fire log you can see where they went and where they’re supposed to be."
Helen reveals that VisIT ED is assisting Swakeleys’ receptionists and is making everyone’s working lives much easier.
"VisIT ED is doing double the job and is quicker and easier to manage," Helen says. "Our students are regularly assigned the task of helping with visitors and the simple-to-use features help them to do this. The meeting host receives an email when the visitor arrives which works brilliantly, especially for staff like me who do several tasks at once or if they’re working on the other side of the building and can’t see that their visitor has arrived."
The electronic VisIT ED visitor management system has been a worthwhile investment to Swakeleys.
"VisIT ED is inevitably more costly to set up than paper visitor management systems, however the benefits and image given to us far outweigh this." Helen explains. "It’s stopping our receptionists from being taken away from other jobs and pass printer is very economical – it uses a small amount of ink to print the passes and we haven’t had to replace it yet, even though we’ve had a fair few visitors since it was installed."
What does the future of VisIT ED look like at Swakeleys?
"VisIT ED is in its infancy at Swakeleys but is working marvellously to-date," Helen explains. "It offers fantastic opportunities so we are exploring the system even further to see what else it can offer us, especially when we take it to our new building. We hope to link it to our pass-activated access systems across the site. It moves with us – as we develop, so does the system.
Helen reveals that Swakeleys are very happy to recommend SG World to any school.
"SG World staff are very friendly, very accommodating and we loved working with Alex. He followed up our installation with calls to make sure we were happy and that we didn’t have any problems."
"We’ve found VisIT ED to be very, very useful. It’s certainly made our lives a lot easier and we’ve already recommended VisIT ED to other schools during our local borough meeting. We think that other schools should be keeping their site secure the same way we are, with VisIT ED."