Christ’s Hospital School has a long history. It first opened its doors to 380 pupils in November 1552, at that time located in Newgate Street, London. King Edward VI became the school’s patron and founder, thanks to his efforts to ensure charitable measures were put in place to provide clothing, lodging, and learning for London’s poorest.
In 1902 a new site was acquired in Horsham, where the prestigious school is now located, having been deconstructed and rebuilt from the old London site. Christ’s Hospital is widely known in the UK for its outstanding education principle and its diverse breadth of pupils. It is the mission of Christ’s Hospital to continue to enable those from a diverse range of backgrounds to come together and thrive.
In 2022 the school needed to replace their security system with a new solution that would be simple to manage and maintain the security of the site, staff, and pupils. Vistec Systems Ltd, an integrated security systems provider based in Crawley, West Sussex, met the challenge head on. David Kennedy, Housekeeping and Security Manager at Christ’s Hospital, was very pleased to work with Vistec due to their reliability and excellent service.
The school currently has around 900 students, over 95% of which board. With 18 boarding houses on site, all requiring different access permissions, as well as the school buildings, dining hall, and other common areas. It was imperative that the school’s new security system was able to manage a huge number of doors and users, whilst still providing a simple, user-friendly experience.
James Brookes, Operations Manager at Vistec, said: “I’ve been working with Paxton systems for over 12 years, and as soon as I heard the requirements for Christ’s Hospital, I knew that Net2 would be the right solution.”
Net2 is Paxton’s flagship, networked access control solution, designed to make the management of any site straightforward. Easy to use and with a range of features, it moves beyond the basics of controlling the flow of people around a building, offering benefits such as building control and system integration. The Net2 system is easily scalable, making it perfectly suited to the school’s needs.
James continues: “There were a few challenges to contend with for this installation, including the need to use existing cabling, limited space for hardware storage, and most difficult… time! We needed to install over 280 readers and all the supporting Net2 plus access control units in only six weeks whilst the students were on their summer holidays. Thanks to the ease of the Net2 system to install, and the occasional help from Paxton’s Technical Support team, we were able to deliver!”
David, who is responsible for the security decisions made at the school, has experience with Net2 from a previous job, and was pleased with the proposal to use it again at Christ’s Hospital. He said: “I knew Net2 would be a great choice to manage a site of this size, and this time we got to install the Net2 Marine Readers. I’d seen them installed when collecting my wife from work, and I just thought I had to have them. They’re visually appealing, but also provide a clear, lit indication of where the door is, and whether access has been granted or denied. I can’t speak more highly of them.”
Christ’s Hospital’s new security system provides simple read in/read out access on all doors, helping to maintain the security of the site and its staff and students. As every user needs to present their access token to get in and out of a building, the Net2 software can provide exhaustive reporting on how many people are on-site, in any given building, and even pinpoint the location of specific users in an emergency.
The school also has an ingenious alert system to ensure the students’ safety; the security team will get notification if students leave their dorms out of hours. After a set time, should a student present their Net2 token to a reader to exit the building, an alert will be flagged in the system and the security team will know who is trying to leave the site (and from which building they’ll be trying to exit).
To further support the school’s unique requirements, several keypad readers have also been installed on the external doors of relevant buildings, to allow access and egress to temporary students who board over the Easter and Summer holidays. Students will be issued PINs instead of tokens, which may otherwise be lost or not returned. The use of PINs instead of physical tokens in this instance saves time, admin, and money for the school when the students depart at the end of their term.
James from Vistec adds: “To overcome the challenge of the limited space, we used the Net2 plus 1 door controller in the PCB-only format and installed several of them in a single Haydon PSU cabinet to minimise the amount of wall space required for the installation. This is another reason why Net2 was the best option for this site; its flexibility allows us to make it work to our advantage.”
The Net2 system has been in use since September 2022, and the school report very few teething problems. All staff, students, and system administrators are pleased with how easy Net2 access control is to use and have fully gotten to grips with all the features. There are now plans to further extend the already vast system to secure all the internal doors on the higher floors of the boarding houses.