Safeguarding students is an educational institution's number one priority. Making sure inappropriate or unsafe content isn’t accessed by students on educational networks or on-site can be increasingly difficult. Web filtering allows for a safer, kinder, and more inclusive space for students to learn and grow whilst not being too restricted in the way they’re able to use the internet.
How Multi Academy Trusts Use Web Filtering
Multi Academy Trusts require a uniform approach to their policy that applies consistently across all academies and locations. This means that every site follows the same ruleset and has equal security, filtering, safeguarding and rulesets no matter their location.
Benefits of a Refined Web Filtering Policy for MATs
There is a wealth of benefits to having a refined web filtering policy across all locations.
Having a universal filtering system across all academies means problem solving becomes much more straight forward for IT staff and administrators. If all networks and devices are uniform, this often means a lot of the problems that arise can be solved in a similar manner. While not the case every time, it can make life easier, and problem solving much smoother. This can reduce the time it takes to get over hurdles and get back to focusing on what’s important, which is education.
Low Maintenance Costs
Likewise, a universal system means less time solving issues, which requires a reduced administration team. It also requires less training as all software, programs and devices are the same (or at least similar). This means that staff across all sites are trained on the same systems and therefore are able to work together to solve problems faster, reducing additional costs for things like outsourcing and training.
Consistent Results Across Academies
A one stop system means there’s less confusion when it comes to individual reports, especially if there’s been a specific incident that requires investigation. It also means that every site follows the exact same legal and regulatory standards. The UK Government expects all educational bodies to meet a set of specific digital and technology standards across all schools and colleges. A universal system means no site is left behind or lagging when it comes to meeting the requirements expected of them.
Challenges of Web Filtering for MATs
There are a variety of challenges that come with implementing a web filter across different sites, as not all locations will have exactly the same requirements, amongst other challenges.
Existing School Technology
Not all sites have the same technology, which can make having a filter that works across all academies fairly challenging. It can also cause issues as not all equipment may be of the same quality, or be up to the same standards. Academies may also have a variety of different staff with different training and backgrounds that may not all be up to the same standard or qualifications as each other.
Creating and Implementation of Policies and Systems Across Schools
Not all academies require exactly the same rules as another, which can make a uniform approach challenging. For instance, different locations may have different opening and closing hours. If a filter is set to work around a specific schedule, this can be difficult if one location is open longer or shorter than another. It can also be a challenge to have the same ruleset for students and teachers if across the same network, this is where having individual changes based on specific circumstances can make the scenario more flexible, while keeping certain rulesets strict. For instance, a filter for older students may not need to be as strict as those for younger students. Also certain subjects and studies may require research into fields that are appear inappropriate or unnecessary for other students.
Making Technological and Organisational Change Simple
Applying web filtering across Multi Academy Trusts is designed to make the whole system, faster, easier, securer and overall, more reliable. Every location within a trust having a uniform approach to filtering means less (ideally no) mistakes are made. The goal is to ensure all students are safeguarded against the dangers of the internet, educational and persona; data is kept secure and the risk of behaviour such as cyberbullying is kept to a minimum and stamped out wherever it is found.