A Cost Guide to Digital Monitoring in Education

3 minute read
By Smoothwall

If your school, college, or MAT is considering digital monitoring in order to improve safeguarding one of your first questions is likely to be how much will it cost.

Since every school, college, or MAT is different, with different sized populations, it’s impossible to say exactly what the cost should be. However, we can provide a ball park, and there are some key considerations to bear in mind and some questions to ask your vendor to ensure you get the best price possible. We’ve outlined some key tips below.

Price structuring

Most vendors charge a few pounds per student per year.

Some vendors, though not all, charge for staff too. Your organisation will need to decide whether to include staff in the user count. Many Smoothwall customers are working towards creating transparent digital safety cultures across their school, college, or MAT communities and as such include staff and sometimes even Governors within their monitoring cohort.

Another consideration is whether to include the youngest users. You may take the stance that whatever their age, if they have a device they need to be protected. We know from our own data that mental health is affecting youngsters as young as five and monitoring can be an important means of finding those children who may be suffering in silence.

Compare like for like

When considering the price of more than one vendor check that you are comparing like for like. For example:

  • Are the services fully moderated or self-service? In other words, is there a specialist team of people checking and grading the alerts, removing false positives, and alerting you to those you need to be aware of? (Fully moderated). Or will you be expected to go through the alerts yourselves, and make staffing provisions to do so? (Self-service).
  • If fully moderated will all notifications appear inside the dashboard – requiring a DSL or staff member to keep checking in, or will you be emailed or phoned for more serious alerts – allowing you to focus on other things?
  • Is the service school hours only or 24/7? It’s worth remembering how much time pupils spend online in the evenings and at weekends. We would always recommend 24/7 protection.
  • Does the fee include training on the solution itself and support during the technical deployment stage?
  • Does the fee include staff, are they extra, or are they free of charge?


Some vendors will offer discounts the more users you have, although do bear in mind that the more users there are, the more trained moderators the vendor will need to monitor the alerts, so there could be limitations around this.

There are likely no discounts for simply being a school since these solutions are designed for schools and not used in other sectors.

If the vendor is an education specialist, they may have other safeguarding technology solutions and there could be discounts if you are an existing customer or if you intend to purchase other solutions. E.g. Web filtering, record management, and others.

Charging frequency

Check whether the vendor charges annually or every 3 or 5 years and decide whether this is right for your organisation and if not, whether there is flexibility around this.

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