St Francis C of E Primary School in Swindon has just installed a new ‘child-friendly’ class change and PA system to help the smooth running of the school and improve safety for staff and students.

“We previously used a hand bell to announce breaks, but this was far from ideal” said school business manager Gabby Clark. “St Francis is a primary school, so we don’t change classes, but the lunch and break times are different for each group of children. We needed a system that could communicate distinct announcements at the right time to each of the different groups of children.”

Hertfordshire-based Bodet Ltd installed a Harmonys automated bell system which runs across the IT network using Power Over Ethernet (POE) to power the system, so it requires minimal additional wiring. The central control unit stores 16 different melody sounds to announce specific events such as start and end of school as well as mid morning and lunchtime breaks. “Announcing the start of school is useful as it lets parents know that school has started and they can leave.” added Mrs Clark.

As each speaker has its own IP address, groups of sounders can be zoned, restricting alerts and announcements to specific areas within the school. “The zoning facility is a real benefit to us.” added Mrs Clark. “It means that we can make general announcements to the whole school, or we can send specific melodies or announcements just to the KS1 or the KS2 pupils. Each of the children and staff in the groups recognise their own sounds, so they know it applies to them, and it works very well”

The school also added a microphone and emergency button which integrates with the Harmonys system, and allows verbal announcements to be broadcast live throughout the school or recorded for storing on the main control unit.

“In an emergency we have a fire bell which alerts the staff and children to evacuate the premises. However, if a situation arises which requires the school to go into lockdown, there was no way we could communicate it quickly, which could compromise the safety of the school.” said Mrs Clark. “Now we can create specific announcements which tell staff and students clearly what they need to do. It’s been useful to locate staff members if they’re needed urgently, or to remind them of a meeting. Fortunately we haven’t had to use it in an emergency yet, but it’s reassuring knowing it’s there if such a situation should arise.”

ends