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Internet Related/Filtering/Firewall Thread, Internet Filtering - Staff Access to Controversial categories in Technical; We've been in discussion with SMT regarding reviewing our filtering arrangements as we're coming under increasing pressure from teaching departments ...
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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    Internet Filtering - Staff Access to Controversial categories

    We've been in discussion with SMT regarding reviewing our filtering arrangements as we're coming under increasing pressure from teaching departments to allow them access to categories such as :-

    1) Social Networking (Twitter,LinkedIn,etc.)

    2) Blogging/Personal Pages/Forums (Wordpress,blogspot,etc)

    3) Webmail (Hotmail,Gmail,etc)

    4) File Sharing (Dropbox,skydrive,etc.)

    We'd be interested to know whether your school makes website categories such as the ones above available to staff?

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    What type of school are you? How old are the students?

    And how do the teachers wish to use these sites... for personal use?.. in the classroom?

    Are your staff aware of the pitfalls of using personal accounts when social networking with students? Does your school have guidelines on this?

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    From a non managerial role I don't see the problem with allowing it, yes there are issues but not issues that should result in it being blocked.

    We don't block any of that for staff, all we block for staff is adult/inappropriate and phishing/malware/dangerous type categories.

    Of course if you allow staff on to social networking and personal email your leadership need to lay out in concrete the expectations of staff and they draw the line. Sitting in the staff room sending a few emails or checking facebook a few times is a different story to sitting in a lesson and doing the same. There is a story floating around somewhere about a female teacher who was sending steamy messages to her partner in a lesson not realising she had the projector on and the whole class was watching. She didn't last long... So things like that are obviously an issue but that's what the staff handbooks and staff policies are for.

    The only issues I can see with filesharing are security and inappropriate/illegal files. Again the legality and morality is one for leadership to lay out to staff, security should be handled by your existing systems so it isn't an issue. Also make sure that illegal/inappropriate downloads are featured in your AUP.

    Forums and blogs are an absolutely amazing resource in any job, we are on one right now so again I see no need to block them. Provided you block adult/illegal etc.. categories with your filtering then the forums that staff can get to should all be safe, so again from leadership's point of view make sure that staff understand that they are not permitted to post as a representative of their employer and not to post anything that in any way could affect the school.

    A lot of the issues are mostly down to giving staff responsibility and trust. Provided that leadership can provide a clear set of policies and rules and show that they will enforce them strongly then staff should keep themselves in line.

    That's my two pence anyway.

    EDIT: Here we have strict policies as well as the staff handbook which cover things like facebook and representing the school, preventing staff getting into awkward situations with students (IE giving out personal contact details) and sheets made by staff for staff on hoe to make facebook more private and what not.

    I would say that our staff are professional in the way they use computers and there haven't been any issues to my knowledge that are a result of staff accessing these sites within the school but it does depend on your staff and how likely they are to push boundaries.
    Last edited by shadowx; 4th October 2012 at 04:56 PM.

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    flyinghaggis (5th October 2012)

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    We leave access to all of those open for both staff and students, the teachers and students are expected to actually manage themselves and their students though rather than put off all responsibility on the technology like they usually prefer to.

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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    What type of school are you? How old are the students?

    And how do the teachers wish to use these sites... for personal use?.. in the classroom?

    Are your staff aware of the pitfalls of using personal accounts when social networking with students? Does your school have guidelines on this?
    We're a combined primary/Secondary school and our pupils range from 5-18. In terms of the above sites they're only really looking at what staff should be given acess to at the moment. I'd imagine staff are planning on using the sites (wordpress,etc) in front of pupils in class.

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    1) Social Networking (Twitter,LinkedIn,etc.) -Banned though welfare officers have access

    2) Blogging/Personal Pages/Forums (Wordpress,blogspot,etc) -allowed sort of, in that it has to be school related.

    3) Webmail (Hotmail,Gmail,etc) -Allowed

    4) File Sharing (Dropbox,skydrive,etc.) -Allowed but I can think of only two staff members that use it and that includes me now.

    Although some are banned it states in our policy you can access them through are personal device that isn't using the school system(wifi) as long as you aren't spending all day on it. As is already mentioned no contact with students through any personal accounts.

    Edit: Sorry should have stated this is the staff policy. And that 4 as @elsiegee40 said never sensitive information.
    Last edited by kernewek-sam; 4th October 2012 at 06:20 PM. Reason: add info

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    Quote Originally Posted by flyinghaggis View Post
    We're a combined primary/Secondary school and our pupils range from 5-18. In terms of the above sites they're only really looking at what staff should be given acess to at the moment. I'd imagine staff are planning on using the sites (wordpress,etc) in front of pupils in class.
    [

    1) Social Networking (Twitter,LinkedIn,etc.)
    You don't need to be told that the minimum age for using these sites is 13 in most cases, 18 in some. Use in front of pupils younger than this is inappropriate. Use with pupils 'of age' is fine as long as the school trains staff. On no account should staff ever use their own personal accounts with students. Accounts set up purely for school use and monitored by the school is the only way forward. Thought needs to be put into when use is appropriate and how the school will ensure that this is so.

    Many schools block social networking simply to keep the little darlings on task. I am aware that they can still get to these sites on their iPhones, however most schools usually have disciplinary procedures in place concerning use of phones in school.
    At my school (age 0-11) the youngsters are not allowed to bring phones, cameras. MP3 players, etc into school. Staff are not allowed to have them switched on in the classroom.

    2) Blogging/Personal Pages/Forums (Wordpress,blogspot,etc)
    see point 1

    3) Webmail (Hotmail,Gmail,etc)
    For personal use only. Staff must never share personal email accounts with students.

    4) File Sharing (Dropbox,skydrive,etc.)
    Not backed up by the school. No sensitive information should ever be stored. however, it can be useful for staff and students alike to share documents between school and home... How do you drum into staff that this is not the place to keep the draft reports?

    We'd be interested to know whether your school makes website categories such as the ones above available to staff?

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    flyinghaggis (5th October 2012)

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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    Not backed up by the school. No sensitive information should ever be stored. however, it can be useful for staff and students alike to share documents between school and home... How do you drum into staff that this is not the place to keep the draft reports?
    I think this is the key question. How much responsibility do management want to devolve to staff in terms of giving them access to sites like the above that will contian potentially unsuitable material and allow staff to upload confidential/sensitive information. The worry I have is that we can tell staff to be careful what they view infront of the pupils, what websites they use, and what information they upload/write on file sharing/blogging sites but from a technical point of view there's no way we can actively police or enforce these rules.

    I'm concerned that if we allow/endorse staff to use sites like the ones above then we literally won't know if they're being mis-used until something goes wrong.

    All comes down to risk vs flexibility at the end of the day I guess...
    Last edited by flyinghaggis; 5th October 2012 at 09:49 AM.

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    For staff we dont block any of those, we only filter out adult sites for staff. We are currently looking at unblocking most of that for the majority of pupils too.

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    flyinghaggis (8th October 2012)

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    All requests for unfiltered access go through the head, staff are added to the unfiltered group on her say-so. We have unfiltered sixth form logins for psychology and games development for which we export an activity log every 24hrs just in case. The users all have to sign a code of conduct which includes not using social media for non-work purposes. They are able to access downloads, but the software restriction policy prevents them from opening anything executable. The password is changed by the teacher to a randomly generated one after every lesson to prevent the students from using it out of lessons.

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    The only thing I would add to the cracking advice given is that when adults take more control of the technology and services they use you have to bump up the training about acceptable use and get more information into your policies (eg file sharing services and data protection), as well as ensuring that these are backed up by the contract of employment.

    Highlight the priorities of safeguarding, protecting professional reputations, the reputation of the school and ensuring work/life balance.

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    I'd add data protection to that list @GrumbleDook

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    flyinghaggis (8th October 2012), GrumbleDook (8th October 2012)

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    flyinghaggis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Highlight the priorities of safeguarding, protecting professional reputations, the reputation of the school and ensuring work/life balance.
    More and more I'm thinking that it's definitely something management will need to go through with a fine tooth comb as opening up internet acess to the level some staff have requested has some pretty far reaching legal/political implications that is beyond the scope of what can be adequately filtered by purely technical methods.

    Does anyone have any details (acts,laws,guidelines) of what our legal obligations as a school are when it comes to filtering internet access for staff? I'd previously have went to Becta's website but with them now gone is there anywhere else that would have that kind of information published to save having to start trawling the .gov sites and reading through individual acts?
    Last edited by flyinghaggis; 8th October 2012 at 01:23 PM.

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    kernewek-sam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyinghaggis View Post
    More and more I'm thinking that it's definitely something management will need to go through with a fine tooth comb as opening up internet acess to the level some staff have requested has some pretty far reaching legal/political implications that is beyond the scope of what can be adequately filtered by purely technical methods.

    Does anyone have any details (acts,laws,guidelines) of what our legal obligations as a school are when it comes to filtering internet access for staff? I'd previously have went to Becta's website but with them now gone is there anywhere else that would have that kind of information published to save having to start trawling the .gov sites and reading through individual acts?
    Kent Trust Web: Children's Safeguards Home http://www.eiskent.co.uk/UserFiles/f...rch%202012.pdf
    Are these any help?

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    Various primary schools, all with same LEA filter (currently).

    1) Only ones that have slipped through the net. TBH, if staff want to access such sites surely they should be doing it on their own time/devices? I could see a case for use in certain lessons (so they could be unblocked for those lessons), but otherwise my gut feeling is that it's probably best to keep 'em off limits. Of course, staff will claim that they NEED Facebook ALL THE TIME. For work. Honestly.

    2) Some sites blocked (Wordpress) but not others. Despite the dubious nature of some such sites, I don't see this as so much of a problem/time suck.

    3) Some allowed/some banned. I'd suggest that these are again best accessed on own time/device.

    4) Amazingly not banned (apart from the more dubious/less copyright respecting ones). Some members of the council are actually recommending Dropbox as a way to send files (often of a sensitive nature)! My feeling is that this is a bit of a security hole, as some members of staff will store confidential data on there.

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