Filtering and Monitoring

Get guidance, resources and tools to support your organistion with filtering and monitoring 

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In July 2023, the UK Safer Internet Centre on behalf of the Department for Education carried out a series of webinars to inform and support organisations across England with their filtering and monitoring responsibilities. This was to prepare and inform schools around the new changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education (September 2023) as well the new filtering and monitoring standards introduced in early 2023. This page includes all recordings of the webinars along with supporting information, guidance, services and tools to support organisations within this field. 

  1. Recorded webinars
  2. Supporting resources 
  3. Department for Education
  4. UK Safer Internet Centre 
  5. SWGfL
  6. Frequently asked questions
  7. Other services and support

Recorded Webinars

Supporting Resources

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the main points to take away from these sessions?

  1. Assign roles and responsibilities
  2. Conduct a review of your filtering and monitoring provision
  3. Check that your filtering and monitoring systems are working as you expect
  4. Keep a record of your review and checks

Do we need a filtering system in place if we already have a monitoring system?

In short, yes.  Both the Prevent duty and Keeping Children Safe in Education includes this expectation.  KCSiE includes that schools and colleges should “ensure their school or college has appropriate filtering and monitoring systems in place and regularly review their effectiveness.” 

Does this relate to school owned devices outside of school for both staff and students? 

For all school owned devices, we would suggest that filtering and monitoring applies both inside and outside school and for all users (staff and children).  Users should be accordingly clearly notified 

Will a whitelisting only approach meet the standards? 

As far back as 2010, Ofsted concluded that “Pupils in the schools that had ‘managed’ systems had better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe than those in schools with ‘locked down’ systems. Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools used locked down systems because they were not given enough opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves”.  This said, there could be specific instances that may warrant a ‘wall garden’ approach (ie only able to access specific websites), for example an identified risk to a particularly vulnerable individual.  

Our filtering system is very technical and is only understood by our IT staff. What should we be asking of our provider? 

If you are not able to understand the reports generated by your filtering (or monitoring) system, you should  

  1. Have the provider explain the reports 

  1. Explore training opportunities 

  1. Amend the reports so you can understand them 

Do the filtering and monitoring requirements apply to children and young people in settings other than schools as part of their e-safety responsibilities?  

Keeping Children Safe in Education details the organisations in England who must have regard to the statutory guidance.  For other organisations (in England) who work with children and provide technology and online access, we would encourage the same standards to be adopted 

Should a monitoring system monitor what is being looked at on the internet only or should it be able to monitor 'keystrokes' in any application? 

Typically technology based monitoring systems (for example those listed Monitoring providers responses - UK Safer Internet Centre) monitor devices including keystroke as well as what is displayed on screens.  If unsure, it is best to ask your provider the extent to which your system monitors devices.  It is also important to know which type of device (windows, ios, android etc) the monitoring system operates on and if any particular installation requirements. 

What is your advice regarding student's personal phones that have internet access. how can we monitor this when they are not connected to the school networks? 

Managing personal devices starts with the school policy.  Please see SWGfL’s published article that supports schools and colleges in Managing a BYOD policy | SWGfL.   

How can a school system manage VPN content? 

VPN (Virtual Private Networks) are a technology that has been developed to protect the privacy of users.  This can circumvent filtering systems.  SWGfL published Everything You Need to Know About VPNs | SWGfL that explains more. 

In 2018, UK Safer Internet Centre included aspects related to circumvention in the definitions of ‘appropriate filtering’; the extent and ability of filtering systems ‘to identify and manage technologies and techniques used to circumvent the system, specifically VPN, proxy services and DNS over HTTPS.’  Providers were invited to detail how their system manages this within their Provider Responses - UK Safer Internet Centre

If monitoring isn't possible on Apple devices unless you're using a specialist browser and doesn't monitor other apps. I'm told this applies to all monitoring solutions. What should we do in this instance?  

Mobile devices operate differently to laptops/computers and correspondingly Filtering and Monitoring systems, typically operate differently too.  It goes without saying that filtering or monitoring systems incorrectly configured (or incapable) of filtering or monitoring mobile devices, will be ineffective.  In March 2023  UKSIC calls on mobile manufacturers to do more to help schools with filtering and monitoring devices - UK Safer Internet Centre. 

It is imperative that filtering and monitoring provision is reviewed, with system checks conducted and documented (Standard 2), to satisfy yourself that your filtering and monitoring systems are operating as you expect.  

If i'm a governor, proprietor or trustee, what questions should I be asking my designated safeguarding lead?

These questions are for Governors, proprietors and trustees to seek assurance that filtering and monitoring standards are being met. Download the resource below to get the full information.

Download Resource 

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