Most schools will have a post-mounted sign located near the school gates, a secondary welcome sign close to the main entrance and sometimes further directional signs for visitors. When deciding where those signs should go and how they should look, this is what to bear in mind.
When we arrive on site we’ll sometimes find that there’s a large fence or hedge in the way. It sounds obvious, but visibility is key. With welcome signs, it should be clear where people are actually being welcomed to, and where they should proceed to from there. If the school entrance is some distance from the school building, it may be worth installing a finger post directional sign indicating specific areas.
Yes, if it’s in soil or grass, we’ll smile. If it’s in concrete we might not smile as much, but we can perform an underground site survey to ensure there are no services underneath and dig the holes required for installing the sign. Main signs will usually take around two hours to install onto a soft surface, and typically double that when mounting into concrete.
We don’t supply many white signs. Ours are mostly designed in darker reds, blues and greens with lighter coloured text – a combination that’s more legible to people who are partially sighted. The majority of our signs also include a border around the edge. This is informed by guidance originally issued by the College of Optometrists, stating that information contained within borders is read and retained more easily. There’s also the benefit that brighter colours are generally more childfriendly than stark, black and white signs.
Only include information which will stay the same on main sign panels, such as the school’s name and logo. Details that could easily change, such as a main phone number or the headteacher’s name, should be placed on a secondary slip beneath the main sign, as replacing that will be considerably cheaper than changing the main sign itself.
I can recall a school in Essex some years ago which was in Special Measures at the time. Every year for three years they had a new principal. Each time, egos would take over and they’d install new signage throughout the whole school – it was a complete waste of money.
Schools tend to supply us with their own artwork, having previously used it to develop and promote their identity. However, a crest designed to look good on a sheet of A4 paper may not necessarily scale to an eight by four feet sign – the quality has to be good. We’ll sometimes need to tidy up a graphic that we’ve been supplied, but that’s included in the price and we’ll often give schools their revised artwork so they can use it for other purposes.
Our signs are all applied with a surface film that makes graffiti easier to remove and protects them from UV exposure. In our experience, signs are less at risk from vandalism than they are from fading over time. To keep them looking good, send your site manager out once a year with a bucket of soapy water, and your sign will continue to look as good as new.
This is perhaps the biggest consideration of all. As a company, we ensure that radius corners are included on all of our signs. We’re aware of companies that still produce signs with 90° angles which we frown upon, as it’s not unheard of for some signs to be positioned at children’s head or shoulder height.
Mark Harman is the managing director of Signs4Schools