Pupils learning in a classroom

Baines School – Smoothwall Filter Case Study

What’s the background?

Founded in 1717, Baines School is a voluntary aided, non-selective comprehensive school for pupils from ages 11 to 18 based in Lancashire. The school carries a proud tradition and its key academic values – excellence, hard work and self-discipline – are embodied in the school motto “Nil Sine Labore” translated to Nothing Without Effort.

Network Manager Ric Charlton looks after the needs of approximately 1300 users, including pupils and staff, who access the Internet using various types of devices, both onsite and offsite. Internet and WAN access is via a 100Mbit fibre-optic connection, provided by Cumbria and Lancashire Education Online (CLEO).

What was the challenge?

The existing firewall hardware was suffering from poor performance and their content filtering was not flexible enough to fulfil their needs. They needed a better way of preventing pupil’s using proxies, as well as online gaming sites, which they were visiting during lessons. Ric said the pupils were also becoming increasingly resourceful at finding ways to bypass the filter, resulting in disciplinary action for several pupils for the use of proxy sites. The school needed a more robust solution that still offered good value for money.

How Smoothwall helped

With a need for both firewall and content filtering, Ric ordered Smoothwall Filter on a trial basis and quickly realised that it would fix their firewall and content filtering problems in one, reducing the chance of distractions (and network threats) so lessons could become more productive. Ric also liked the ease with which filtering rules could be edited and reporting functions could be customised so he could keep a close eye on the school’s network – as well as the pupils themselves. He was also particularly pleased with the Smoothwall Filter’s competitive cost of ownership.

Ric says their new firewall has allowed them to publish their Zimbra Collaboration Server’s services and Citrix XenApp Secure Gateway to the Internet, whilst also providing excellent content filtering. Online game use at Baines School is now negligible and they have only had one proxy bypass site make its way through the filter in a year (and the owners of this proxy had gone to great lengths to hide its use!). In conclusion, Ric says he is pleased with the appliance’s reliability and says Baines School now has a much more futureproof solution.

“The UTM-1000 was not only cheaper than the software-only costs of other filtering solutions but the ongoing maintenance costs are equally good value. So far it has proved very reliable and is more than powerful enough for our needs, both now and in the foreseeable future.”

So far it has proved very reliable and is more than powerful enough for our needs, both now and in the foreseeable future.

Ric Charlton
Baines School
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