The CP Riverside School in Nottingham provides alternative education focusing on the importance of making and recognising positive changes, as well as demonstrating constructive behaviours. It caters to children between the ages of 13 and 16 who struggle to enjoy, engage with or succeed in mainstream education due to a variety of reasons, such as mental health issues, learning difficulties or anxieties associated with large groups. The school’s specialist staff support and nurture these individuals through their GCSEs and into higher education or apprenticeships.

The challenges of a distracting environment

One important aspect of life for students at CP Riverside School is that they must hand in their mobile phones each morning when they arrive. “This is because once a student causes a distraction in a classroom with a phone, it’s very difficult to redirect attention back to the teacher, and an entire 45-minute lesson can effectively be lost,” explained Business Manager Mark Starling. “Previously, we simply had to request that all students hand in their phones, trusting that they would do so. However, the main issue was that we couldn’t definitively prove a student had a phone on them, and some went as far as providing a ‘decoy’ handset instead of their actual mobile phone, making the policy even harder to enforce.”

A solution in pole position

School staff decided there must be an easier and more effective way to police this rule, and so began searching for a portable metal detector system that would meet their needs. However, one of their main concerns was over the complexity of this type of equipment in its day-to-day operation. Mark continued: “We needed an easy to use, low maintenance system suitable for high traffic environments, and soon discovered Todd Research’s TR360 Search Pole. This system is ideally suited to our needs, and is capable of screening 50-60 individuals per minute to detect mobile phones whether they are switched on or off. Crucially, it is easy to move and use, and requires very little maintenance.”

A new school of thought leads to an ideal outcome

This new ‘secret weapon’ was put into full time operation at the beginning of September 2021, and has helped improve discipline around mobile phone use in the
school. Mark commented: “Compliance with the rules has increased, and the practice of handing in ‘decoy’ phones has largely been foiled, as individuals found with one phone simply have to go past the metal detector a second time. Some students thought they had found a new way around this, by coming into school late, after the TR360 had been put away. However, the unit is so portable and quick to set up that we can simply move it to where it is needed, and even the most resourceful students have now discovered they can’t outsmart the equipment. As a result, the TR360 is now fulfilling its originally anticipated role as a deterrent, with most students respecting the rules and handing in their phones when arriving at school. This is helping to minimise distractions during lessons, creating a happier, more productive and fulfilling environment for staff, students and parents alike.”