It was vital the school provided students with access to social media to help communicate with families overseas, therefore they needed a web filtering solution which was flexible and that could be adapted to suite the needs of the different age groups.
Smoothwall Filter solution allowed the school to provide an improved online experience for both day and boarding students, allowing restrictions to be applied to social media during school hours whilst allowing it in the evenings and early mornings.
What’s the background?
Rye St Antony is an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 3-18 years and day boys 3-11 years. Established as a lay Catholic Foundation in 1930, the school is situated in 12-acres of stunning woodland only 1 mile from the centre of Oxford. Rye offers excellent teaching facilities and delivers consistently high academic achievement and pastoral care. Rye is rated in all areas as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and ‘Excellent’ by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
With 350 pupils, the school network consists of 220 desktop computers and 20 iPads, as well as 250 mobile devices through the BYOD scheme. The school’s IT requirements are looked after by Drew Pocock, Network Manager.
What was the Challenge?
Their previous web filtering solution wasn’t providing them with the flexibility they needed within a boarding school. Drew commented, “We could only set time based filters in 15 minute increments, however as a boarding school with prep sessions we needed more flexibility.”
It was also necessary that the filtering could be adapted for each age group. Drew explained that it is vital to provide students with access to social media to allow them to communicate with their family and friends overseas. However he also stressed the importance of being able to block sites for certain age groups, “we need to ensure we are complying with the age restrictions of each site and doing this within our previous product was more than complicated.”
How Smoothwall helped
After becoming aware of Smoothwall 6 years ago through EduGeek, Drew signed up to a trial edition and within 2 hours was convinced it was the product for Rye. Implementing Smoothwall Filter allowed the school to provide an improved online experience for both day and boarding students, enabling restrictions to be applied to social media during school hours whilst allowing it in the evenings and early mornings.
When the boarding pupils asked about using their own devices with the school’s internet connection, Smoothwall already had all the features needed to introduce a BYOD scheme. This had the added advantage of utilising the safeguarding feature, ensuring that the students received a safer internet experience with the appropriate filtering, which is not possible on individual 3G/4G data packages.
Smoothwall’s accurate categorisation has reduced the amount of time needed to allow and block sites. Furthermore, Designated Safeguarding Leads have access to the safeguarding reports. This has become ever more important since the Government introduced the new Keeping Children Safe in Education legislation in September 2016. Commenting on the safeguarding feature, Drew said, “It’s definitely my favourite feature from Smoothwall, for me it helps settle my mind that we have appropriate filtering and monitoring available that meet the new guidelines across all devices.”
Smoothwall’s granularity was just what we were looking for and then we found we could reduce our costs, it was quite clear it was a good choice.
“In the early days it was purely price and performance we were looking for, but the product is constantly evolving to meet our needs.”
Drew Pocock, Network Manager
In the early days it was purely price and performance we were looking for, but the product is constantly evolving to meet our needs.