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University Academy Keighley – Smoothwall Monitor (Managed Service) Case Study

What’s the background?

University Academy Keighley (UAK) is a mixed secondary school and sixth form located in Keighley, West Yorkshire. Catering for 650 students in total, UAK offers a wide range of study programmes including GCSEs, BTECs and A-Levels.

Darren Harvey-Hill, Operations and Business Manager at UAK, explained the variety of devices requiring a monitoring solution, “upon enrolment at UAK, each student receives a Chromebook device which can be taken home on evenings and weekends. We also have 250 desktop computers as well as 140 Chromebooks for staff, taking the total number of school-owned devices to 1000.”

What was the challenge?

Darren explained why the school was looking for a new monitoring solution, “my predecessor originally signed for a different solution to be deployed across all school-owned devices, however he left prior to the roll-out. I took over this role and initially rolled the solution on to the Windows devices without issue. Unfortunately, as soon as we applied it to the Chromebooks, it caused loss of functionality across all platforms – our Windows devices were crashing, we experienced email lagging, delays in screen functionality and in some cases, individual machines would shut down, it was a complete nightmare!”

Explaining how UAK came across Smoothwall Monitor, Darren said, “we already have Smoothwall Filter through Bradford Learning Network and after explaining our issues with the current monitoring solution, they recommended Smoothwall Monitor – Managed Service. Initially we deployed it to the Windows machines, and once this proved successful, we then extended it to onto the Chromebooks. Within the first 10 days of using it, the functionality lost across all platforms was nil, there was no alteration in service, no dropped services and no lagging, but the information gathered in this short time period was phenomenal!”

How Smoothwall helped

Darren explained their main hopes for the monitoring solution, “I can see what websites students are attempting to access through Smoothwall Filter, however it involves me physically logging into the portal and checking the reports. Whereas with Smoothwall Monitor – Managed Service, it monitors anything typed, and I receive automatic alerts for anything of concern via email or telephone depending on the severity of the incident. This allows us to involve our safeguarding team and address the issue as soon as possible.”

Discussing the success of Smoothwall Monitor, Darren commented, “it has flagged up incidents that we believe have been resolved, but have actually still been ongoing in the background. Although the students aren’t interacting face to face, Smoothwall Monitor has shown they are interacting online and are arranging inappropriate activity outside of school, so we’ve been able to involve both our Safeguarding and Safer Police teams. Having access to the screenshots is fantastic, it’s physical evidence that students or parents can’t deny!“

“The alert rating and categorisation of each alert has been extremely useful for us, as it allows our Safeguarding team to quickly prioritise incidents and deal with the most serious concern as quickly as possible. They are no longer spending a significant amount of time each day analysing and ranking each case in order to act appropriately.”

Darren explained how Smoothwall Monitor has helped identify inappropriate use of a Chromebook whilst off-site, “one student was absent from school and during the day, I received a telephone call from the Smoothwall team informing me of a level 5 incident this individual was misusing their device whilst absent from school. Using the portal, I was immediately able to view their recent activity, including any screenshots taken. This was particularly helpful because not only could I see the words and phrases that flagged the alert, but also the desktop background and other activity occurring at that time, for example how many people they’re chatting to. At this stage, I was able to contact our IT team and disable the device so the user wasn’t able to carry on misusing it whilst not in school. We then invited their parents into the school to address the issue.”

“When discussing any incidents with parents, having the clear evidence from the portal is absolutely fantastic! No one is able to deny anything as the screenshots are physical evidence that include the student’s name and the action, it’s superb!”

When asked of Smoothwall Monitor advantages over other monitoring solutions, Darren commented, “the ability to access the screenshots, the speed of identifying an issue and the additional contact method for serious incidents all set Smoothwall Monitor above its competitors. In relation to 7 months stress and pain from our previous provider which failed to deliver what they had stated it would do, Smoothwall Monitor – Managed Service knocks it out of the park!”

When discussing any incidents with parents, having the clear evidence from Smoothwall Monitor - Managed Service is absolutely fantastic! No one is able to deny anything as the screenshots are physical evidence that include the student’s name and the action, it’s superb!

Darren Harvey-Hill
University Academy Keighley

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