e-SAFETY – IMPROVEMENTS TO FILTERING ON THE LANCASHIRE GRID FOR
Over recent months there has been an increase in the number of instances reported where
pupils have been able to circumvent the Smartfilter system used to filter websites on the
Lancashire Grid for Learning (LGfL) service by the use of “proxy-bypass” services. Pupils
have been accessing proxy-bypass websites that are not blocked by the Smartfilter system
and then re-directing to other websites with the potential to access inappropriate content
that would normally be blocked by the LGfL system.
The Smartfilter system works by maintaining a list of websites under approximately 90
different categories such as gambling, pornography, terrorism, extreme political groups,
social networking, hacking etc. These categories can then be blocked or unblocked
depending on the level of filtering required.
The Internet is constantly changing and despite the best endeavours of the providers of
Smartfilter there will always be a significant number of websites that remain unclassified.
To date the content of these unclassified websites has been available within schools as
they have not yet been placed in one of the categories. We are now in a position to block
all unclassified content and have been trialling this with a number of schools over recent
weeks to discover the impact this has on the filtering service.
I am pleased to be able to report that the schools involved in the trial felt that the changes
resulted in a much improved filtering service and as a result we intend to implement this
change across the whole of the LGfL service with effect from Monday 2nd February 2009.
There may be a small number of websites with genuine educational potential that are
unclassified and will therefore be blocked once these changes have been made. If this
does happen please ask your staff to contact us using the online form that appears on the
blocked site notification page. The website will be manually added as an exception to
allow access in future.