The Council wanted an ‘out of the box’ solution with the opportunity to tailor it for each school. They knew that while schools were increasingly utilising web-based products for learning, they were doing it to varying degrees and the ability to customise and service each school individually was key.
John explains: “Every one of our schools is different and flexible controls were important for us. We wanted the ability to create as many groups as needed. Not all our schools permit YouTube for example. Some have ‘out-of-school clubs while others don’t. It was a varied mix of requirements.”
Once the decision to purchase Smoothwall was confirmed, the Council wasted no time in getting the installation underway. They set a tight timeframe of 2 months to install 230 boxes. Smoothwall assigned two senior leaders to project manage, who visited frequently and had weekly conference calls with John and his team. Smoothwall gave the Council a template for all schools to use but which could be customised.
Continued John: “Smoothwall allocated the resource needed to meet our deadline. We had two on-site engineers during proof of concept. Once we had perfected the installation and configuration ourselves we had a direct line to a dedicated engineer throughout. We met our deadline. It was superb teamwork on both sides.”
Not all plain sailing
Going into their second year the team began to exceed the tolerance levels of some hardware and it began to fail. John knew he could depend on the Smoothwall Team. An engineer was assigned and in partnership with the Durham Schools Team developed a swap out strategy that would see the failing hardware replaced in the shortest time.
John goes on to say: “We fixed the issue with minimal downtime for our customers. You can tell how good a company is from how they deal with difficulties and Smoothwall exceeded our expectations. They are an extension of our team. Their door is always open.”
Durham County Council ICT School Services have a stable of happy schools when it comes to filtering. As each school’s direct contract comes to an end they now purchase through the Council contract and benefit from their bulk buying discounts.
Schools also benefit from detailed reporting. Where previously, when a report was needed, schools had to request a time period from the previous solution which could result in a spreadsheet of tens of thousands of IP addresses not targeted to any user.
Explains John: “Now we give the power to the school. Each DSL has access to the reports and alerts they need and are appropriate. Our schools are over the moon with their reporting.”
The Council are keen to build on their filtering success with Smoothwall Monitor and help their schools develop robust digital safeguard cultures.
Asked whether funding would be a concern, John was emphatic: “You just have to compare the cost of Monitor Managed Service over 3 years with the cost of a senior person looking through the alerts everyday to realise how affordable it really is.”
He concludes: “I can’t speak highly enough of Smoothwall. From our side, it’s been a breath of fresh air, a fantastic product for our customers. We’ll be with it for many more years and look forward to new releases and hopefully feeding into them.”
For Durham County Council ICT School Services Smoothwall Filter provides a solution that is:
- Tailored to their requirements
See it for yourself in action. Book a free, no-obligation demo of Smoothwall Filter with one of our product specialists, and see how you can achieve similar results in your school, college or MAT.