School teacher talking to pupils

Shropshire Council – Smoothwall Filter Case Study

What’s the background?

Shropshire is situated in the West Midlands region and is the largest inland county in England. It is one of the most rural and sparsely populated counties, which brings challenges to the Council’s ICT service which delivers its support.

The ICT department operates from the council’s main office and protects in excess of 30,000 pupils across 139 schools and 12 academies. Pupils in Shropshire schools range from reception to sixth form, and there’s even one all through school. This meant that the chosen product had to cope with the policy demands of these differing age groups.

What was the challenge?

In 2010, Shropshire Council had a managed filtering service that supported all Shropshire schools and libraries, although it was nearing the end of its contract. The Council took this opportunity to review the service and started to look for a solution that better fitted its needs. Site-specific filtering and detailed reporting were key.

It had become standard for secondary schools to employ their own network managers who could look after individual filtering requirements. However, the majority of smaller schools required a system that the Shropshire Council support team could manage on their behalf.

Increased Internet use was causing bandwidth problems, and this was placing pressure on their existing web filter provider. Shropshire Council opted for Smoothwall to protect their network because it ticked all of the boxes. Some of the key attractions were: customisable web filtering, comprehensive reporting and excellent value for money.

How Smoothwall helped

Smoothwall Filter was deployed as a hybrid model so that all network users’ requirements were catered for. This involved a combination of centrally deployed software, as well as a series of local on-site deployments for schools that required greater control of their own filtering. The Internet performance issues were also dealt with on-site by the Smoothwall engineers who installed two load balancers at the central cluster.

The team was impressed, especially with the ease of implementation across multiple and varied sites. According to Shropshire Council, the solution was installed with hardly any downtime, meaning no disruption for users. Since installing Smoothwall, Shropshire Council have seen a huge improvement in Internet performance and reliability, user feedback has been excellent, with the granular reporting getting top marks!

User feedback has been excellent, with the granular reporting getting top marks!

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