From minimising fire safety problems to helping students’ health and wellbeing, lockers are increasingly being used in schools across the UK. Not only are they practical, they are also aesthetically pleasing. Andy Millward, Link 51’ Sales Director looks at the benefits of replacing the cloakroom pegs in favour of more modern storage solutions.
With space at a premium in many schools, the introduction of lockers has been hugely beneficial as headteachers look to maintain high standards of safety.
Health & Safety
Annual fire inspections are carried out in schools to make sure that procedures are in place to maximise the safety of both the pupils and staff. And while fire officers look for evidence that proper records are kept and training is up to date, it will call the headteacher and the school governing body to task if it sees obstructions in corridors that could impede exit in an emergency.
Ensuring that fire escape routes remain unobstructed at all times is a key concern for fire safety officers because any hindrances could cause significant delays if the school has to be evacuated quickly.
Beaver Road Primary School, in Didsbury, Manchester, acted very quickly when a routine fire inspection raised concerns about the numbers of bags and coats along its corridors because of their potential to cause trip hazards and obstructions if the pupils had to be evacuated quickly.
Headteacher, David How, called Link 51 to deliver an in depth design and planning assessment to ensure that lockers would not only be suitable for the needs of the pupils, all of whom are under the age of 11, but would also cater for the restricted school layout.
Ease traffic congestion
Ensuring free flow of pedestrian traffic is essential when designing locker systems in all buildings, and schools are no exception. As in the case of Beaver Road Primary and St Catherine’s School, Twickenham, both of which are housed in old buildings that had limited available space, expert designers were able to alter the specifications to create a bespoke run of lockers that actually helped to reduce bottlenecks in corridors.
Personal safety is another sound reason for locker installation. According to Ofcom’s research documentChildren and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes (October 2012) smartphone ownership among children – primarily those aged 12 to 15 – rose 28% in 2011, while of the use of other high-tech mobile devices, i.e. Tablets is also increasing. As students are likely to take some of these high value gadgets to school, they have to be kept safe while they are in lessons. While unsecure cloakrooms could be a target for thieves, and carrying the items around in blazers or bags might not be a practical option, lockers provide added on-site security.
A number of secondary schools have also confirmed that because their lockers were sited along well-used corridors – and not in dark cloakrooms or hidden away from public view – bullying is now less likely to occur.
Despite all the gadgetry that pupils love to have, they still have the burden of carrying heavy folders and books for their daily lessons. Lockers allow students to store these bulky, heavy items safely during the school day.
The weight of school bags has long been a concern of parents and professionals such as musculoskeletal experts and physiotherapists. A survey by BackCare in 2012 revealed that some pupils carry bags that are up to 20% of their body weight, which means that lockers can certainly help to ease the burden during the school day.
Productive Learning Environments
Academic research by the University of Salford also revealed that good storage solutions in schools contribute towards an effective learning environment. Its 2012 study found that taking such factors as classroom orientation, natural light, temperature, storage facilities, and colour, all helped towards pupils’ successful learning.
Andy Millward is the Sales Director at Link 51, the UK’s largest manufacturer of lockers, locker accessories and cupboardswith more than 30 years’ experience in the education sector. Andy comments: “Having provided lockers to schools across the UK for so many years, we are proud to be able to help improve our childrens’ school environment. Often schools delay the decision to install due to the perceived cost of locker schemes; however a correctly specified scheme provides a really cost effective way of improving one’s environment and learning outcomes.”
For further information or to arrange a free Locker site survey, please telephone 08000 733 300.