Many of today’s schools are large, densely populated campuses where significant numbers of people are constantly moving around and where there is more and more important information to be displayed. In environments like these, getting the message across in the most effective way is absolutely critical and great signage is the key to doing this successfully. In this post, we’ll look at the widening use of signs and how they are benefitting schools.
Creating the right first impression
The good use of school signage begins outside the building. It starts with an external sign that presents the school to those in the wider community and to staff, students and visitors who enter the premises. This is the sign that depicts the school brand – its values, its status and its identity – and sets the tone of what people should expect at the school. A well-designed school sign doesn’t just have impact; it forges a perception of what your school is like. These signs, which can incorporate your logo and motto and be designed using school colours, can be mounted on posts, affixed to walls and fences or even be created from cut out 2D or 3D letters that are attached in prominent places at the entrance and illuminated for 24-hour display.
Banners are another common form of signage seen at the school’s exterior and are used for a variety of reasons, such as to promote events like open evenings, summer fairs and drama productions or to advertise your successes, as many schools do with outstanding Ofsted inspections or fantastic exam results. Made from robust materials, these highly versatile signs can incorporate everything from the latest graphics to eye-catching photographic images and are easily affixed to railings and fences. They are also reusable and can be rolled up and stored for safekeeping or transportation.
Taking the confusion out of campus design
Modern schools, especially larger secondaries, often have more than one building for people to find. For new students and staff and for visitors, it can often be confusing where things are. External wayfinding signs provide a simple yet effective solution combining helpful fingerpost signs, that point people in the right direction, with reassuring building signs that identify each separate location. With these latter signs in place, people know when they have arrived at the right building without having to go inside to check. External wall signs with directional arrows can also be incorporated into this navigational system.
Internally, schools are never the easiest buildings to find your way around. With a sprawling network of endless corridors, often repeated over several storeys, it’s not only hard to get to where you’re going; it can be easy to get completely lost. For newcomers, a single wrong turn can take them to places that make it impossible to find their bearings, which is not good in environments that look unfavourably on the lateness of teachers and pupils alike.
Improved punctuality and the benefits that come from it can all be achieved from ensuring that the external wayfinding system mentioned above continues indoors. Good school wayfinding can include ceiling hung corridor signs, signs at corridor junctions and stairwells, directional wall signs, departmental entrance signs and the obligatory door signage. These can be created affordably in acrylic or even Foamex and easily attached to the structural features. They can also be colour coded and be used for branding purposes by including the school or even the department logo.
Over the last few years, it has become popular for schools to use signage to reinforce their values throughout the building. Some schools use large and prominent signs to depict important keywords, e.g., tolerance, respect and responsibility, while others create signs listing their main school rules for placement in classrooms or display excerpts from their core value statements to put in places like assembly halls. These important signs serve as a continual visual reminder to all members of the school community of the expectations on students and staff with regard to how they conduct themselves when in the building.
Health and safety
Health and safety are paramount in any working environment but one can argue that they are even more important when the majority of people in the building are minors. Children’s natural tendency to play around can put them at risk of harming themselves and others, especially in subject areas where potentially dangerous equipment is being used, such as in technology, science and PE. Prominent signage can reinforce important health and safety rules and lessen the risk of injury.
At the same time, schools have certain signs that they are legally required to display and maintain, such as those which identify the location of fire extinguishers, emergency exits and mustering points. Often the type of health and safety sign used, its location, mode of display (e.g. whether it needs illumination) and maintenance are prescribed by legislation.
School signage plays a number of important roles, from helping to promote the school and its brand to keeping staff and students safe. There is a wide selection of signage options available to carry out these functions, many available in a range of colours, sizes, shapes, designs and materials. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find the right combination of signage options to improve your school.
For more information, visit our Schools Signs page.