Ensuring your mobile devices are safe and secure from unwanted attention and potential theft is an important consideration for any school leader. Leaders should remind staff regularly about basic security measures, such as not leaving devices unattended without appropriate security measures in place.
‘Appropriate security measures’ in this case may include lockable cabinets, which can provide physical security against unwanted attention. I can personally recommend the range of Mobile Device Lockers from Zioxi (see zioxi.co.uk), which we use at The Prince of Wales School to keep our Chromebook and iPad provision safe and secure.
On rare occasions, I’ll notice an item left unattended before a public letting is about to commence. When that happens, I’ll normally retain the item in my safe keeping until a colleague reports that it’s missing – which typically leads to a lesson being learnt! Encouraging all staff to hold each other to account in similar ways can be really helpful here. We all have those moments when we forget things.
Physical security is your first line of defence, preventing direct access and/or intruders from circumventing your IT security. The IT equipment in your school, including any servers, workstations, backup tapes, recovery diskettes, original software packages and so forth, should be kept in a safe place that’s guarded against unauthorized access. Where possible, you should also define those areas of the school where there are different physical security requirements.
Property marking and inventory taking are further important measures for preventing physical loss. Property markings should be properly painted on all major hardware items, such as desktop base units, monitors, notebook computers, printers, scanners, projectors, removable storage devices and so forth. I’ve used the property marking resources available from Selecta DNA (selectadna.co.uk) for a number of years, and have always been impressed by its customer service and ongoing support and advice.
However you choose to keep it, a log for recording and maintaining your IT equipment inventory list is essential. Your log should record the location, as well as the status of all equipment, indicating whether it’s ‘in use’, ‘on loan’, ‘under repair’ or possibly ‘discarded’.
If any parts are missing, or there seem to be any discrepancies, you should investigate immediately. One product I’ve used to support me with this in the past is School Asset Manager (schoolassetmanager.com) – a simple to use system with an accompanying mobile app which, while initially expensive when compared with a DIY solution, can deliver clear cost benefits over time.
Keeping your devices safe is about more than simply security, though. It lets your pupils and staff know that you value the school’s technology as an essential resource; something you want to protect not just because of its monetary value, but its educational value too.
Which brings me to my final point – that if you want to protect your devices from theft, damage (both accidental and deliberate) and from going ‘lost’ or ‘missing’, make the very maximum use of them for educational benefit.
Gary Spracklen is headteacher at The Prince of Wales School, Dorchester, a former Digital Educator of the Year and member of the government’s Educational Technology Action Group.