On school grounds, maintaining the safety of the students gathered inside the buildings and outside on the spaces around them is paramount. It should not be easy for trespassers to gain entrance into school properties and freely interact with students. Otherwise, dangerous individuals may attempt to negatively influence or even take away children or teens. Fencing is a structure that can function to this end. By creating a barrier that is more difficult for people to cross, a school can keep criminals out while also clearly defining the extent of the school’s outside area for students. Naturally, fencing should follow certain design principles to be effective in this context. This also means that there are several considerations to make when planning on adding a fence or fences to a school. Below, we’ll discuss the role of school fencing in improving security, as well as those factors that you should reflect on when erecting it.

Fulfilling the Principles of CPTED with Fencing

The acronym CPTED stands for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. It is an approach to designing public spaces that aims to make them into safe environments for the people who use them. There are three principles that CPTED includes, which are territoriality, natural surveillance, and access control. Meeting all these principles with a school fence should lead to a layout that positively affects the property and the students therein.


Territoriality describes the idea of showing ownership of a space through its physical features. In this case, physical features are the buildings, outdoor structures, landscaping, and signage that a school has. Fencing creates territoriality by bordering the premises of the school grounds and/or certain areas, such as playgrounds and sports courts and fields. Its presence makes it clear to outsiders where they should not go. Moreover, it can help to create a greater feeling of community for the students who attend the school when maintained well. Students will be able to more easily take ownership of the space because the fence defines it clearly.

Natural Surveillance

While fencing in residential neighborhoods may serve to establish greater privacy for their inhabitants, it should not obscure anything in schools. For these educational institutions, it is important to uphold natural surveillance, which means that fence design upholds the maximum amount of visibility possible. Doing so will enable surveillance systems and staff to keep an eye on the school and students without obstruction. Due to this, fencing options that are see-through are preferable over those that consist of solid material. If there are any locations at a school that are already hidden from view, you can also use fencing to block and control entry into them for the sake of natural surveillance.

Access Control

This leads to the next principle of CPTED – access control. Access control takes into account where a school has its outer structures and doors. Their placement should allow for staff to remain aware of every person who seeks to gain entry. Security fencing and gates should enable access control by limiting where people may enter and exit the school grounds. With a limited number of gates in specific regions of the fence, monitoring people who come should become much more manageable. At the same time, the positioning of those gates should make it possible for students and staff to leave the school should one point become inaccessible in an emergency.

Different Types of Fencing for Schools

When it comes to the fence itself, there are different materials and styles to choose from. As you weigh which type may be most ideal for your school, you’ll likely need to strike a balance between attractiveness and efficaciousness. Thinking about the first component will ensure that the school feels welcoming and bright for students, while keeping the second in mind will keep the fence useful for security.

Wooden Fencing

Wood’s virtue lies in its attractiveness and versatility. Whether a school decides to leave it in its natural color or paint it, wooden fencing can appear softer and more natural than the other materials. It is also possible to cut wood into ideal shapes that give enough space for the upkeep of visibility while allowing it to serve as a good barrier.

Despite these strengths, wood may not be suitable for many schools. This is because it requires more maintenance than other fences. Wood needs periodic sealing to protect it from moisture. It can also deteriorate due to sunlight and insects. Even with a thoughtful design, wood fences also tend to provide less visibility when compared to other fence types, since their pickets must be thick enough to remain stable and sturdy. They’re most fitting for instances where a school’s security needs are not high.

Chain-Link Fencing

Chain-link fencing is durable, see-through, low-maintenance, and affordable. Its wire and rail components have surface treatments (often galvanization) that makes them resistant to rust. You can have a company like Durham Fence & Guardrail easily install chain-link fences around your school and expect them to last a long time without breaking down. They should be about five to seven feet in height to work well, though.

The main drawback of chain-link fencing is that it can be somewhat easy to get past. People may climb over it or push their way through the bottom of the chain net. To mitigate these weaknesses, a school could use a tension wire instead of a rail for the fence’s top, making it hard to scale. Putting a solid rail along the bottom along with a concrete strip underground will also prevent people from passing under it.

Metal Fencing

What distinguishes metal fencing from chain-link fencing is that it is comprised of solid metal pieces that manufacturers weld together. Consequently, would-be intruders cannot bend or cut it like they might with a chain-link fence. The metal that they use may specifically be steel, aluminum, or iron. There are several variations of metal fencing as well. Some are similar to chain-link in that they possess wire, but the manufacturers meld their individual metal strands so that they become fixed in place. A common form of metal fencing that Durham Fence & Guardrail offers is ornamental fencing. This school fencing is perfect for improving security because it is resilient to damage and wear, is difficult to climb, and does not limit visibility. On top of all this, ornamental fencing is aesthetically pleasing, which is helpful for schools as they aim to create a positive and safe learning environment.

Improving Security