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10 May 2017

The Changing Face of Web Security in Independent Schools

Independent Schools in the UK face endless challenges to ensure pupils get the best educational experience.

Over recent years there has been an increased number of both minor and high profile safeguarding incidents within Education, but specifically in independent schools.

One high profile case described how boarding school students ordered legal highs after finding a loophole in their filtering system.

Such incidents and the introduction of the Prevent Duty and Keeping Children Safe in Education legislation has resulted in a shift in focus from security to safeguarding features.

Independents face the added challenge of providing a home-like experience for students whilst still maintaining a duty of care.

A flexible solution is imperative to ensure pupils can access social media on evenings and weekends, but restrict access during the school day.

Unlike state schools, Independents usually cater for students at all stages of education therefore having a granular solution is vital to be able to provide students with age-appropriate access.

The use of personal devices within the classroom is also rising, therefore having a web filter that supports mobile devices and enforces the appropriate filtering rules is vital.

There is also the challenge of high expectations from parents who expect the school to have the best solutions in place.

How Smoothwall can help Independent Schools

Safeguarding Smoothwall is the only provider that is focused on meeting the evolving needs within UK Education. To meet the shift towards safeguarding, in early 2016 we launched the Safeguarding Reporting Suite as an additional feature of our SWG product.

As part of this, all breaches are categorised in terms of the level of severity and the seven safeguarding risks identified by the Internet Watch Foundation.  The suite comprises of:

  • An easy to use portal allowing you to view user activity in real-time.
  • A reporting tool allowing you to schedule easily read and presentable PDF reports to various members of staff, removing the element of manual labour.
  • An alert tool to automatically notify the designated safeguarding lead of any safeguarding breaches.

Reporting in this way enables you to act if a high-risk incident does occur, as well as generating meaningful analysis of any search terms entered and URLs accessed.

For more information on our Safeguarding Suite, read our whitepaper here.


The number of UK schools considering adopting a BYOD scheme has risen from 22% in 2014 to 26% in 2016 (RM Education, 2016).

However BYOD can pose as a challenge for web filters as schools don’t have administrator control of the device. Smoothwall’s specialists have developed a range of BYOD and mobile options to ensure schools have as much control over usage as possible.

Our granular filtering provides you with the tools to give different levels of access and control based on the time of day, helping to provide a home-like experience for boarding students whilst still maintaining a duty of care.

Smoothwall developed the Connect Filter to ensure that the usage of school owned devices can be monitored when on a different network, i.e. at home, giving you control of all scenarios at all times, even personal usage at weekends.

Granular Filtering

Smoothwall’s granular filtering allows policies to be built based upon various categories including user group, content category, time and location.

This means that for a class learning about drug abuse, all relevant content can be accessed by that class whilst still being restricted for the rest of the school.

Kevin Smith, Systems Manager from Torquay Boys’ Grammar School commented

“Smoothwall gives you the ability to apply different filtering rules to different age groups in a superbly simple format. For me it’s an extremely useful product for me to have.”

Click here to find out more about TBGS’s experience of Smoothwall.

To find out more about the challenges Independent schools face, visit the Northern Education Technology Conference on 15th May 2017 hosted by the Independent Schools Portal, and remember to quote ‘SMOOTHWALL’ at the checkout to receive 25% off your ticket!

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