Flexible Web Filtering Policy – Who, What, Where, When 

How a flexible web filtering policy provides a premium solution for independent schools  

Independent schools often have complex needs when it comes to Internet access and digital safeguarding – it’s typical to have a broad range of age groups of students from across the world, a diverse mix of different device types, students with 24/7 WiFi access from their own devices and a fine balance to strike between the freedom to learn and the duty of care to protect their wellbeing.  

The web filtering policy controls within Smoothwall Filter help Independent schools achieve these aims in an intuitive, flexible and powerful policy system. 

In the field of safeguarding, these needs are more pronounced than others. Many of the tools we use in safeguarding aren’t even present in the corporate world, and the concepts and ideas don’t follow through. A corporate web filter, for example might be there to ensure productivity by denying the major social networks, or head off a lawsuit by keeping porn from office PCs. However, it’s likely to serve other functions like preventing leaks of sensitive information and is often chosen on how little impact it will have on day to day operations.   

There are a number ofeducationfocussed vendors – some of whom offer a strong, premium web filter and safeguarding offering, and others who have added these features to a broader set of tools like classroom management. It’s important to set these apart so we know we are doing best for the young people in our care.  

All Smoothwall filter policies consist of four elements – Who, What, Where and When

    • Who – typically schools will implement filtering based on age group, with content restricted more heavily for youngerpupils.  Staff may still have filtering applied, but with a much less restrictive policy. These groups can come from existing authentication systems such as Microsoft Active Directory and Google G Suite. It is also possible to apply filtering policies to individual users if required.
    • What – Smoothwall Filter’s powerful dynamic content analysis engine powers <x> categorieswhich gives the ability to apply policies using constantly updated definitions.  Schools can also create their own categories to apply rules such as walled gardens – which may be used during exams, prep or isolation to limit users to a specific list of websites only.  These rules may also be delegated to staff, who may be granted the ability to edit specific portions of the filtering policy.
    • Where – a school’s network is vast and likely covers classrooms, dining areas, sports facilities and boarding houses. The ability to apply different filtering policies based on the physical location of a user can give powerful controls to the school, such as allowing access to games only from specific places. 
    • When – not all Independent schools will have boarders, but the need to differentiate filtering policies depending on the time of day can still be required – break times, after-school activities and clubs may require different rules to the main school day.  Quota controls can also be used to implement digital wellbeing controls – such as limiting students to 30 minutes of social media per day, and only between certain hours and from specific locations. 

If you have a question or would like to arrange a demonstration of the UK’s No.1 Web Filter, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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