Choosing a web filter

How to choose the right web filter for your school, college or MAT

It’s no longer an isolated choice

Today’s school environment demands that filtering be part of a broader conversation around safeguarding and student protection.

Sometimes a web filter will come part of a suite of education focused safeguarding solutions and there can be cost savings by purchasing this way. If not, it’s important to consider the other products your web filter must work closely with in order to be effective.

Close relatives of web filtering

The core “team” around your web filter will often come from the same vendor. These products must work closely together in order to provide best value: 

Digital Monitoring - Web filtering can be closely allied to digital monitoring. Filters can often block these tools from working correctly, or overlap with monitoring, leading to excessive alerting.

Classroom Management – Frequently employed to allow teachers to monitor student behaviour and focus, classroom management tools sometimes include ineffective filtering controls. Better to align your classroom tool with the web filter, and pay once for that feature.

Integrations

Systems that are distinct from the web filter’s core role, but should still be considered as potential allies:

Safeguard Record Keeping – The easier it is to get data into your record keeping platform, the better your outcomes will be. The worst option for record keeping is pencil and paper, but a surprising number of schools use this approach. It’s key to ensure your record keeping system can work with your filter and monitor products and can easily accept output from them. For example, attaching a filter log export.

Active DirectoryAll web filters should integrate with your AD. Ensure you choose a filter that can get user and group level integration from AD.

Google Directory & Google Classroom  –GSuite is growing in popularity in UK education, with some schools moving entirely to Google products. Ensure your filter vendor has access to GSuite information. If Google is a strategy for your school, be sure to ask your vendor about their Google expansion plans in the future.

If you have a question or would like to learn more about any of Smoothwall’s digital safeguarding solutions, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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