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Dean Close School – Smoothwall Filter Case Study

What’s the background?

Founded in 1886, Dean Close School is a co-educational day and boarding school in Cheltenham providing continuity of education for pupils aged 3 to 18.

The school is renowned for focusing on individual development and provides extensive learning facilities including the latest technology in its computer labs to help nurture each pupils’ talents.

Steve Colwill heads the IT support team along with his deputy Cavan Hamilton, Technical Support Technician; together they are responsible for managing the school’s IT systems and Internet provision for 900 pupils and 450 staff across three schools: pre-preparatory, prep and senior.

What was the challenge?

Two years ago Dean Close used a well-known firewall with a URL filtering module add-on. Cavan, explains how they lost confidence in the product when Google HTTPS searches became mandatory: “The risk of student exposure to inappropriate content through Google searches was a massive concern because the previous product wasn’t able to read the content contained in secure searches.”

To prevent anything unsavoury reaching their students, the IT Team needed a complete rethink. Blocking the Google domain entirely was out of the question, as was relying on SafeSearch. Dean Close needed a reliable web filter that could inspect the content of secure HTTPS searches dynamically, as well as having BYOD capabilities.

How Smoothwall helped

After evaluating alternative web filters, Dean Close decided to choose a Smoothwall Filter S8 with content-awareness, Deep URL Analysis and high processing capability.

Knowing that their users are now protected against potentially harmful material originating in search results gave the IT Team peace of mind from a safeguarding perspective and a renewed sense of confidence in the product.

Once the issue with Google HTTPS was resolved, attention moved to implementing the planned BYOD scheme. Cavan didn’t expect the BYOD rollout to be easy due to the complex nature of their existing IT setup, and the variety of different devices including Androids, Macs and iPads, requiring access, but the capability of the product coupled with the talented Smoothwall engineers, helped ensure that there was a smooth transition to filtered single-sign-on BYOD access: “Users only need to log in once because Smoothwall remembers their details and authenticates them against our Microsoft Active Directory.”

Users only need to log in once because Smoothwall remembers their details and authenticates them against our Microsoft Active Directory.

Steve Colwill
Dean Close School
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