Bespoke perimeter protection at newly renovated Chichester Free School

Introduction / Challenge

In 2010, the UK’s coalition Government introduced free schools, which, in response to demand from local communities, would see the opening of non-profit-making, independently run, state-funded schools. Today there are over 475[1] free schools across the UK, and Chichester Free School is one that is growing from strength to strength. The school put the finishing touches to its new campus ready for opening at the start of term in September 2018. A robust perimeter protection system was an important part of the development, in order to keep students and staff safe and secure. The system, however, had to be designed to blend in with the school’s design – a converted mid-18th Century convent in a rural setting.

CFS needed specialist skills to deliver the secure perimeter solution. It enlisted the experts at Heras, one of the leading perimeter security specialists in the UK. Following an initial scoping meeting and review of architect drawings, Heras designed a bespoke perimeter protection system that would meet the school’s criteria.

The solution consisted of a secure 2.4 meter high outer boundary built using Heras Tangorail, self-raking railing systems, which follow the ground contours and provide optimum site safety and security. Within the railing boundary, Heras installed three gates along the road to allow for vehicle and pedestrian entrance and exit, so students could be dropped off and collected safely. A sliding Safeglide 2 gate meets the necessary regulations to allow access to fire trucks in case of emergency as well as secure vehicle access to the service yard at the rear of the site for goods deliveries for example. The sliding gate included Zenith SR1, a single panel of welded steel mesh to provide the necessary level of security while keeping children’s fingers out and protect against opportunist vandalism. The gate was also specially clad with timber to better blend with the rural surroundings – making it the first of its kind.

Inside the boundary an existing perimeter wall provides another level of security. Within the wall, Heras designed, manufactured and installed three bespoke Tangorail Gates, that meet RoSPA guidelines and one of which is a quantum self-closer. These are opened in the mornings and afternoons when students arrive and depart. At all other times, visitors would report to reception via a secure gate leading to the a reception for check and sign-in. The gates include intercom access control, which allows visitors to buzz a manned reception to release the mag locks and allow entry. Finger sensors allow teachers to pass through rapidly. Heras also installed picket fencing to segregate areas within the school grounds.

Because Heras owned the entire process, from design and manufacture of its own materials and to installation, CFS was able to meet its deadline for finishing works and handover before the beginning of a new school year.

Pupil safety is a top priority for CFS and the installation of the Heras perimeter protection solution has been designed with this at its core. It prevents students running out into road, allows controlled flow of people and vehicles all the while blending in as much as possible to the school’s beautiful surroundings.

[1] According to the Government’s Department of Education,