Lanyards Define Us

If you don’t have a lanyard then you are effectively a no-one, a loser or a drop-out.

Lanyards show that you belong and they advertise to the world at large that you are part of something.

Schools never used to have lanyards, pretty much like every other organisation didn’t. But then suddenly they were everywhere and now they are compulsory visible id markers and let everyone know that are important even if you aren’t.

Lanyards are like military dog tags and serve to show you are part of the unit even if your unit is just one. Yes, a colleague of mine is self-employed and he wears a lanyard because without it he feels naked, alone and vulnerable.

Lanyards show you belong to a community and if you are the community then wear a lanyard.

Lanyards are not just a tribal thing either. They are to show your status because along with your name and a photo they will broadcast what it is you ‘do’. Some people are very proud of what they ‘do’ and who they are because their job defines them. Their job is their identity so they want you to be able to see their lanyard card. Others are less fussed and turn theirs around so it can’t be seen.

Lanyards extend status even further by giving you access to buildings and doors that other people aren’t allowed in. Your card can be placed in front of a reader and you’re in.

Corporate lanyards will display the name of the organisation and so it doesn’t take much working out who it is your work for. Unless of course you are a bit of a rebel and you choose to wear your own lanyard (probably a football team) and attach your id card to the bottom of it. Slack managers who don’t stop this behaviour send out the wrong message.

Lanyards aren’t supposed to be fashionable so you can stamp your own personality on them – they are for the organisation to stamp its identity on you. You are a brand. A real rebel though doesn’t wear a lanyard around their neck, they have it hanging out of a back pocket.

The School Lanyard

So what about schools? In lots of secondary schools and almost all colleges, lanyards are the norm for students. But in primary, you won’t see many children wearing them because teachers complain they are something else to fiddle and fidget with.

But the lanyard and id card really is a big thing children. They love lanyards and they are desperate to wear yours if you are a teacher. That can be awkward because once you let one have a go they all want to wear your lanyard.

I have actually seen two children share one lanyard and that’s when the teacher concerned realised something….why not give every child a lanyard with an id card and they can have their photo taken and display a class responsibility or class job. On the back of the card we could write the 5 golden school rules along with the school motto. Some could contain medical information (although we draw the line at putting SEN status and Pupil Premium).

Genius stuff. And it worked. Children took great pride in their lanyards and they wore them all the time which were especially useful for school trips. Okay playtimes were a bit wild so they were taken off for breaks and PE lessons and anything that involved operating machinery but otherwise, lanyards were worn as the successor to stickers.

Children like wearing lanyards the same as adults do because it shows they belong to the school community and they are part of a family. They are part of the school’s culture and so are a great opportunity to show you are a representative of the school. They contribute towards a school’s spirit and values. Children’s lanyards are a bit gimmicky perhaps but they do work and instil a sense of ‘being’ and contribute to wellbeing in the process.

Lots of schools now invest in lanyards and colour code them to differentiate between staff, pupils and visitors, e.g. blue for staff, green for pupils and red for visitors.

These are practical and contribute to safeguarding. For example, a red lanyard wearer signals to the school that you are a visitor and must not be in any part of the school on your own. You might adopt another colour for ‘work experience’ or for parents. Not too many though or it gets confusing.

Yes, lanyards are great, except when it comes to eating and they end up diving into a bowl of soup as you sit down.


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