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Protecting your investment in classroom equipment

James Symons, CEO of LocknCharge, tells us why schools should do everything they can to protect the technology they invest in

Posted by Hannah Vickers | April 11, 2017 | Technology

With technology forming such an integral part of 21st Century education, schools could find themselves at a serious disadvantage if they were to be left without the equipment they are now relying on every single day. So many schools now have classrooms filled with tablets and other ICT equipment, and it’s that which, unfortunately, makes them increasingly attractive to thieves. 

According to BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association), computer technology has been significant in the drive to raising standards in schools. It reports that many schools are moving tentatively towards a system in which each child has his or her own device, and whilst some are opting for a BYOD (bring your own device) scheme, many are choosing to go ‘one-to-one’ with tablets and investing in devices for the whole school. 

So, we know that kitting out classrooms with tablets and other devices is undoubtedly beneficial where educational outcomes are concerned; it’s great to see that schools are investing their budgets in the technology that is proven to enhance creativity and increase engagement. The bit that remains a challenge is that so many of them still aren’t recognising the importance of protecting these products and devices to make sure they’re safe from theft, which is a real problem in schools. 

Having devices stolen isn’t just an inconvenience - in addition to the fact that it causes difficulties for teachers and pupils who may be left without IT resources, it could also affect a school’s insurance premiums, which could increase as a result of the claim for the loss. That’s not forgetting the serious consequences of a school’s data falling in to the wrong hands.

As negative as it sounds, schools do need to prepare for the worst

As negative as it sounds, schools do need to prepare for the worst. A school that uses tablets every single day, for example, would be faced with a real problem if they were suddenly stolen; budgets are tight and simply replacing them isn’t likely to be an option. Here are a few examples of recent school burglaries that prove it is happening:

  • More than £5000 worth of iPad Minis have been stolen from a number of high schools in Edinburgh over the past two years. Laptops costing four-figure sums were also stolen from primary and secondary schools across the Scottish Capital, putting additional pressure on schools struggling that are already struggling with budgets. The figures were released by the city council under freedom of information legislation. Many of the schools that were victims of the break-ins and thefts have had to be reimbursed from the city council’s central budget, because they aren’t able to replace the equipment from their own individual funds.
  • A large quantity of tablets were also stolen from Witton Church Walk CE Aided Primary School in Northwich back in March. This burglary was the second in the space of a month at this particular school; the combined value of the technology stolen from both breakins totalled around £10,000.
  • Back in May, at Grange Primary in Kettering, thieves broke into one of the classrooms and removed a cabinet containing ten iPads.

Piling devices into a cabinet and locking it is no longer safe enough; the cabinet itself also needs to be protected

All three of these cases confirm why piling devices into a cabinet and locking it is no longer safe enough; the cabinet itself also needs to be protected. They demonstrate why no matter how strategic an investment or policy on the particular technologies or devices, there’s no use having them if they aren’t secure. It’s for this reason that so many schools are now investing as much in security solutions as they are in the technology itself; but what should you be looking for when considering these solutions?   

  • Make sure the lid or door is made with heavy-duty material with limited pry points, remember that lots of materials can be easily broken into. You need to be able to close it then lock it with hardened locks. When using a cart, ensure it has a two-point locking system as this makes it resistant to hands and tools! 
  • It may sound obvious, but if you’re using a cart with wheels, ensure the cart cannot be wheeled away. You need to be able to keep it in one location with a heavy duty anchor kit securing it to a floor or wall. 
  • Nothing is as telling as a storage solution that’s proven to be secure during a break-in. Ask the provider to give examples of any situations they know of involving break-ins and whether or not the solution has been secure and prevented theft.

We mustn’t forget the significant financial investment that’s involved in purchasing the latest and most innovative technologies for use in teaching and learning. No matter how strategic an investment or policy on the particular technologies or devices, there’s no use having them if they aren’t secure. 

It’s not realistic to say that we’ll ever stop the threat of thieves attempting to break-in to schools with the aim of stealing equipment, but there are solutions and measures that can be used to help protect the investment. More than one million devices are currently protected using our storage and charging solutions, so we’ve definitely learnt a thing or two along the way about what works and what doesn’t! 

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