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The Importance of Flexible Policy Controls in School Web Filtering

3 minute read
By Smoothwall

Who, what, where and when

Larger schools, inner city schools and MATS often have complex needs when it comes to internet access and digital safeguarding.

It’s typical to have students that span a broad range of ages, nationalities, and who have a diverse mix of device types. Also students with 24/7 Wi-Fi access from their own devices. It’s a fine balance between giving students the freedom to learn as part of a good education and the duty of care to protect their wellbeing.

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

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


Typically schools will implement filtering based on age group, with content restricted more heavily for younger pupils. 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 GSuite.

It is also possible to apply filtering policies to individual users if required.


Smoothwall Filter’s powerful dynamic content analysis engine powers 200+ categories which gives the ability to apply policies using constantly updated definitions.

Schools can also create their own categories to apply rules, such as walled gardens. These may be used during exams, prep or can be used to limit users to a specific list of websites only. These rules may also be delegated to staff, who are granted the ability to edit specific portions of the filtering policy.


A school’s network is vast and likely covers classrooms, dining areas, sports facilities and for independent schools – boarding houses. The ability to apply differing 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.


The need to differentiate filtering policies depending on time of day is required by most schools. 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 social media per day, and only between certain hours and from specific locations. A premium filter lets you build policies that match the structure and rules of your school. Your school should not have to adapt to meet a filter’s rules.

In addition to flexible policy controls, you need to consider how the way your web filter is deployed could impact your digital safeguarding information. On-premise, cloud and hybrid solutions are all an option, but which is best for you?

Find out in our free whitepaper, where we detail the pros and cons of each approach.

Further reading

You may also be interested in other articles from our ‘Filtering Imperatives’ series:

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