Grange P-12 College is a Government co-educational school founded on the values of respect, learning and working together. Established in 1993 as a secondary college, it expanded in 1997 to include a primary school.
Based in Hopper Crossing in Victoria, 30 minutes southwest of Melbourne CBD, Grange P-12 College is split over two campuses; primary and secondary. It has 200 staff and around 1600-1650 students ranging from prep to year 12, with 1:1 technology being used in the classroom from grade three.
Boris Grujic is the IT and Infrastructure Manager at Grange P-12 and is responsible for overseeing and assisting the members of the IT team who work together to ensure connectivity for teachers and students across the school community.
Before implementing Smoothwall, the school was using a product called TMG2010, Microsoft Management Gateway to manage their network and firewall. This system functioned well when first implemented. However, when Microsoft discontinued the firewall and product support, updates were below expectation and/or discontinued, particularly to category filters. “We found that our students were visiting inappropriate websites every now and again due to the category filters not doing their job. We found ourselves constantly chasing our tails trying to ensure that they were using the internet in a safe and non-risk capacity,” Mr Grujic noted. “We wanted a product that meant that we were able to ensure that any students accessing the internet were doing so safely and without risk of being exposed to inappropriate content.”
The students at Grange P-12 College use a range of different devices for their studies both in and outside the school environment, including the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) service. As such, the IT team needed to find a solution that worked for onsite and offsite devices – allowing for the fact that students as young as eight are using devices – to ensure that there was no risk of any student being exposed to unsuitable or potentially damaging content, either at school or at home.
Mr Grujic was also keen to find a solution that enabled him to monitor and cap internet traffic on certain websites during certain times of the day (ie class time) as a means of discouragement.
Where Mr Grujic had found that all other commercial web gateway / firewall solutions offered a one-size-fits-all approach, Smoothwall had a specific education alignment, which suited the school’s requirements. “I found out about Smoothwall through a consulting company we use called Honeylight Consulting. The Honeylight team came out and installed the solution onsite. It took less than a day to get the system up and running and properly configured. Honeylight did a fantastic job and their support was second to none.”
Another key requirement for the filtering product was that it had to offer a comfortable mix of effectiveness and ease of use. “We didn’t want to impose so much security that teaching staff had to focus more on tech support than on actual teaching. The goal for us was to have a product that provided clarity, security and transparency, all at the same time – which Smoothwall demonstrated brilliantly in our initial trial.”
I found Smoothwall to be very focused toward education. This was the main selling point for us. Smoothwall provides us with the ability to establish different settings between different groups of users. For example, students at the primary campus cannot access the same websites as students at the senior campus. Students at the senior campus can access YouTube which is bandwidth throttled during class, whilst primary school students cannot, full stop.Boris GrujicIT and Infrastructure Manager
Smoothwall is a great product that would benefit both primary and high schools, but most definitely high schools. In fact, any school that has significant priority on the use of technology in education should consider this product. I’d recommend Smoothwall to any school that takes their IT seriously!Boris GrujicIT and Infrastructure Manager
Mr Grujic initially trialled Smoothwall after enquiring about another firewall service. After a short trial period of just two months, he knew it was the best product for the school.
Mr Grujic had used almost every product on the market and knew Smoothwall was best suited to their situation. “Though a lot of other solutions have the same features, Smoothwall came out ahead when the time for the evaluation ended; most predominately, because it was built for an environment like ours (education) and the product’s unique features made that clear.”
Smoothwall’s web filtering system has stopped the teachers having to monitor what students are searching constantly and has freed up more time for student support, instead of behaviour management.
“Smoothwall has very specific and in-depth reports which allow us to intercept potentially dangerous situations that students may find themselves in. For instance, Smoothwall can include category detection such as self-harm, pornography, drugs, radicalisation and more” Mr Grujic advised.
Smoothwall is also transparent; students do not know that their activity is being monitored and ‘protected’. Smoothwall has provided Mr Grujic, his team and the teaching community with the capacity to monitor certain students and groups of students who may or may not be searching inappropriate content. “In some cases, the system has enabled us to alert our wellbeing staff to proactively intercept self-harm,” Mr Grujic noted. “While Smoothwall has helped us to catch some incidents, fortunately none of them have amounted to anything serious. The purpose of having Smoothwall however is that if this does ever happen, the capability that the system provides allows us to intercept and be proactive, instead of having an incident occur and us reacting in retrospect,” he added.
Real-time, content aware web filtering technologies combined with next generation firewall give you The Web You Want. Developed in the UK.