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The Challenges Independent Schools Face When Choosing a Web Filter

4 minute read
By Smoothwall

Independent Schools in the UK face endless challenges to ensure pupils get the best educational experience.

Over recent years there has been an increased number of both minor and high profile safeguarding incidents within Education, but specifically in independent schools. One high profile case described how boarding school students ordered legal highs after finding a loophole in their filtering system. Such incidents and the DfE placing more emphasis on safeguarding in legislation such as KCSIE, has resulted in a shift in focus for web filtering requirements in Independent schools from security to safeguarding.

Independents face the added challenge of providing a home-like experience for students whilst still maintaining a duty of care. A flexible solution is imperative to ensure pupils can access social media on evenings and weekends but restrict access during the school day. Unlike state schools, Independents usually cater for students at all stages of education, therefore, having a granular solution is vital to be able to provide students with age-appropriate access. The use of personal devices within the classroom is also rising, therefore having a web filter that supports mobile devices and enforces the appropriate filtering rules is vital. There is also the challenge of high expectations from parents who expect the school to have the best solutions in place.

How Smoothwall can help Independent Schools


Research shows that nearly 1 in 3 UK secondary schools (29%) have considered adopting a BYOD scheme and the number is continuing to rise. However, BYOD can pose as a challenge for school web filters as they don’t have administrator control of devices. To allow schools to provide all users with safe and protected internet access, Smoothwall’s engineers have developed a range of BYOD and mobile options that gives schools as much control over usage as possible. Smoothwall’s granular filtering provides you with the tools to give different levels of access and control based on the time of day, helping to provide a home-like experience for boarding students whilst still maintaining a duty of care.

Smoothwall developed the Connect Filter to ensure that the usage of school owned devices can be proactively monitored when on a different network, i.e. at home, giving you control of all scenarios at all times, even personal usage at weekends. Smoothwall’s new cloud filter also ensures devices are fully protected when they aren’t on-site.

Granular web filtering

Smoothwall’s granular filtering allows policies to be built using various categories including user group, content category, time, quota and location. This means that for a class learning about drug abuse, all relevant content can be accessed by that class whilst still being restricted for the rest of the school. Building a ruleset based on quotas is also useful for schools that want to encourage students that have free time, whilst not allowing them to access social media and gaming for the entire of the school day.

Kevin Smith, Systems Manager from Torquay Boys’ Grammar School commented “Smoothwall gives you the ability to apply different filtering rules to different age groups in a superbly simple format. For me it’s an extremely useful product for me to have.”


Smoothwall Filter also includes a safeguarding reporting suite which notifies you of breaches in terms of severity and the seven safeguarding risks, including radicalisation, suicide and self-harm, that are identified by the Internet Watch Foundation. The suite comprises of:

  • An easy to use portal allowing you to view web traffic by user in real-time.
  • A reporting tool which allows you to schedule easy to read and presentable PDF reports to various members of staff, removing the element of manual labour.
  • An alert tool to automatically notify the designated safeguarding lead of any safeguarding breaches.

It’s important to remember that this reporting only covers web activity. For further information about Smoothwall’s full digital monitoring solution that reviews all keystrokes and screen views in real-time, alerting your DSL to any concerning activity, click here.

What next?

If you would like to arrange a free no-obligation demonstration to understand how Smoothwall Filter can be effective in your school, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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