Advice For Schools Choosing A Filtering Provider

When it comes to choosing your school’s Internet Service Provider, one of the biggest considerations is filtering. 

With so much of our lives now dependent on being connected to the online world, schools have a responsibility to safeguard children from accessing potentially harmful and inappropriate online material. But young people also need to learn how to use the internet safely, and of course that includes what to do when they come across inappropriate content. Being too prohibitive about what they can access does little to build the resilience they need to develop as they grow up.

What you need

No filtering system can be 100% effective, 100% of the time. It needs to be supported by good teaching and learning and effective supervision (amongst other things). You also need to ensure that what you are buying is fit for purpose and satisfies the relevant guidance, like Keeping Children Safe in Education.

As a minimum, when considering filtering systems, schools need to ensure that access to illegal content is blocked.

Specifically this means ensuring that filtering systems:

  • Block access to materials on the Child Abuse Images and Content (CAIC) list, provided by the IWF; and
  • Block access to materials on the police assessed list of unlawful terrorist content, produced on behalf of the Home Office (re: the Prevent Duty).

What else?

You need to look for a system that will manage access to inappropriate content, such as drug and substance abuse, extremism, self-harm and malware.

The DfE requires schools to have an "appropriate level" of filtering provision, which the UK Safer Internet Centre defines here. SWGfL also provides an Assisted Monitoring Service to help schools using monitoring solutions ensure learner behaviour is well managed.

Take control

Whatever filtering system you choose, you need to ensure its features allow you to set certain controls. From time of data, to the particular needs of different users and groups, it needs to provide you, the school, with control to permit and deny access as well as a reporting mechanism.

With a SWGfL Service, you get Essential Safety as a default provision, and can choose which filtering solution to deploy on top of it. Essential Safety blocks anything on the Child Abuse Images and Content (CAIC) list and ‘the police assessed list of unlawful terrorist content, produced on behalf of the Home Office’.

This service is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and SWGfL works in a unique way with the regional police forces to detect and progress any attempts to access CAIC listed materials. 

RM SafetyNet

When adding customisable filtering, most schools opt for RM SafetyNet, because it has been developed specifically with schools in mind. It’s affordable, easy to use, and is fully hosted in UK datacentres. The advantage of this is that you are not reliant on an on-site device that requires maintenance, and can fail. It also means there’s no complex training required in order to operate the system, saving you an additional, potentially costly overhead.

RM SafetyNet is fully resilient, so you don’t have to worry that it might stop working, saving you any further costs of having a backup service.

Other benefits include:

  • Easy to use admin interface
  • User Based Filtering (UBF) available to all sites, providing greater flexibility and control
  • Enables time-based policies, group rules and negates the need for staff proxies
  • Active Adapt instantly scans  content and identifies ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ material.

Best of all, RM SafetyNet offers primary and secondary schools, and Multi Academy Trusts, with a filtering service that is affordable and meets with the latest DfE guidance.

There are lots of different aspects to consider when choosing the right filtering system for you. Filtering will be personal to each school and will depend on:

  • How many users there are,
  • How the internet is used in your setting,
  • Your budget, and
  • Whether the school is federated or part of a MAT. 

Before you make that important and potentially expensive decision, as to what filtering system is right for you, we would love for you to give us a call. Our friendly and dedicated Schools Internet Services team are on hand to discuss the various options available to you. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Find your Filtering Solution

Email sis@swgfl.org.uk or Tel: 0345 6013203.

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