Have you checked with your provider/local authority to see if there are different proxies you can use which will automatically give different filtering levels? (eg SWGfL in our case)
That's how we do it - that way we can lock down the filtering in the school to protect the little angels and also my network, but the teachers can still access the things they need.
Our LA provides one filter for all schools, and schools are happy for them to take the responsibility. The question of differing levels of access in schools is constantly raised, and the above, together with Ric's idea, and our own which is that staff have complete protection from accusation, as it's a more sensitive issue for adults that work in schools.
LA staff have different filtering that blocks shopping sites during working hours. School kids & staff can shop all they like! :)
Sorry, there is an exception, school techs have far more relaxed filtering, and could download any suitable and legal to do so material in preparation for lessons.
I like the slight on RM techs :) Watch out for the RM elite who will swoop in now and make you respect them!
Schools usually set their own policies. Perhaps the single-tier filtering system was set by the senior leadership team?
Originally Posted by b_m
It might not be a case of not knowing how to administer it "properly" (we only have one level of filtering - are you saying we're not doing it "properly"?) - it may be a case of not having the money/equipment/software to allow staff and students to have separate filtering levels.
Are you basing your assertion that he hasn't got a clue on the fact that he runs an RM network?
Originally Posted by b_m
You appear to have taken some offence and I can only apologise if this is the case.
Originally Posted by webman
Our SLT have very little clue with ICT- they are guided by our network manager who is very good at using technical words. Whats the expression, Bulls... baffles .......?
My assertions that he hasn't a clue is his general demeanour. Raising a support ticket for the smallest of issues, not being able to diagnose permissions errors with a users account without the RM "Healthcheck" tool and then, if that doesn't work, using the RM "profile reset". Without these buttons he really would be lost!
He's still of the opinion that giving pupils 50MB of space should be sufficient for 5 years, and has been known to question GCSE photography students over the number of (obviously work related) photographs stored in their user area. Some of our OCR National students have had audio and video files deleted whilst working on units 22 and 23. And before you ask, he is fully aware of the course content.
My initial question was related to what is the "norm" in schools with regards to internet access. I expressed that I was raising the query because I was concerned as to how up to date our NM's knowledge was. That was my reasoning for mentioning RM, nothing more, so please don't lets turn this into a debate on the validity of using RM in schools.
That's fine, just had to ask :)
This is quite a long reply, and in some places quite critical of some of the elements of your posts, but I hope you are able to see it's meant to be a useful / alternate perspective of the situation which may help you....
I am curious. Have you sat down with your Network Manager and asked for a more in depth explanation? Has existing protocol been something that Leadership have discussed, or just something that has been inherited?
The reason I ask is that your posts seem to heavily suggest you doubt the ability of the Network Manager in your new school, whereas in reality it could just be a case that your previous schools have discussed alternative filtering provisions, and your new school hasn't (which would be a Leadership issue not the Network Manager alone). So maybe your automatic assumption of your new colleague is a little unfair?
In any case, I can see both sides of this situation - Iíve dealt with similar teacher requests for relaxed filtering (see *1), but I've also investigated strategic solutions which may offer improved modular filtering because I have been personally unhappy with existing provisions (see *2).
*1 - The general perception Iíve had to overcome in the past is that the filtering system acts as a barrier between the teacher and their ability to deliver a quality lesson - which is a completely unacceptable claim! In all instances Iíve come across another solution was available, or the initial request was unstable in the first place (e.g. providing access to a YouTube video where unsuitable comments were seen under the video and links to suggested content were not acceptable!)
*2 - I have been lucky (or unlucky!) enough to agree with you on a restrictive filtering solution, but also be in the position to change it! In my circumstances the restrictive solution was RM SafetyNet Plus. It does a good job, but isn't modular. There are many alternatives out there which can either sit on top of it, or be used in its place - but these all have cost implications (and a lot aren't minor cost implications either!)
The solution I am likely to implement (unless something else comes along which Iíve not seen yet!) is Impero.
I guess in summary I would advise sitting down with your Network Manager informally. Ask if anyone has explored alternatives before, and make him aware (if he isn't already) that decent alternatives exist. If he is happy to go off and research then leave him to it for you. If he isn't, or says he has and it was previously turned down, then discuss it with other department heads, and then Leadership - make them aware there are better alternatives, but that they will require an investment which in turn should improve teaching and learning + make network management easier. :)
Thanks for the time you had obviously put into your reply.
You may remember that I initially posted asking what was the "norm" in schools- this was so I can actually sit with the NM and have an informed conversation as to where our access was in comparision to other schools nationally. Our school is quite some way behind in terms of ICT use and understanding and i'm hoping to be able to address this with the support of the NM, but obviously needed to get a clearer picture of where others are at the moment.
I wouldn't say that I doubt the abilities of our NM, but I do doubt how up to date he his with his knowledge, both of "modern" teaching (such as digital video) and also the way that technologies are moving. He knows his way around the RM management console impeccably, but would doubt whether he would be able to set up a vanilla installation, which, as budgets get squeezed tighter, is becoming an increasingly preferred way of running things, therefore saving on the annual costs. In the scenario I am experiencing, I feel he has accepted that all users have the same level of internet filtering, and "that's the way it is"- his knowledge is not up to date enough to challenge the view and understand that there *are* other ways of it being done.
Obviously if you fall behind on your knowledge of how ICT supports teaching and learning then it becomes very hard to support it effectively.
I fully take your point that there are normally other solutions to problems caused by filtering. I accept and understand that Youtube videos can be downloaded at home. However, I am trying to raise the level of ICT as a tool for teaching, and some of our staff are, quite literally, years behind. Some of our staff still hand write reports, one has DVD's copied onto VHS because she can't understand how to rewind the DVD disk at the end of the lesson (yes, it's true!!). I can point staff in the direction of some useful, ready made resources on sites like youtube (again, your comments over inappropriate associated content are noted, and understood, and the use of external sites must always be carefully vetted), but if the staff also have to download some sort of youtube flv downloader, download the video, copy it to USB stick then remember to bring it in, it's like putting up barriers to them using ICT as an effective tool- barriers that will stop them "having a go". It's also much harder and more likely to cause problems then being able to show them how to put the link to the video onto a powerpoint!
I get frustrated by it- not just our NM but by the way that ICT is "used" in our school. A french teacher will book an ICT suite and spend 3 lessons making a poster in french, then have the whole class print in glorious technicolour, jam the printer on the first printout and just leave it for someone else (normally me it would seem!) to sort the printer out during my next lesson in the room and end up with 30 french posters!! We have spent a fortune on projectors in nearly all rooms and interactive whiteboards in most, but they just seem to be useful to hang the christmas decorations off! I'm trying to signpost to staff easy ways that they can access ICT resources to add interest in their lessons without paying the ransom that companies like Boardworks expect. A situation like I am currently experiencing seems to do nothing to help....
That scenario sounds very familiar! I'd guess that filtering is probably not at the top of your list after hearing all of that! Just one of many things on the "to do" list?
Out of interest, what part of the UK (actually, I'm only assuming UK!) are you in?
I might have missed it earlier in the thread but, what is your position at the school? Are you a Teacher of ICT or the Head of ICT? Does line management of the Network Manager fall to you?
We mainly use the same filtering for staff and students.
I used to be a bit more relaxed with staff accounts until after telling members of staff time and time again it is not allowed for students to use staff accounts some people just didnt think it was important.
Hi again Mark,
I'm not HoD, but also above the role of a teacher- so a teacher with a responsibility if that makes sense. My background is technical before I did teacher training.
My logic is that by removing some of the barriers to using ICT and actually making it a valuable tool in the classroom, staff will actually want to use it, rather then feeling that they are being told they have to use it so just using it to tick a box.
This hopefully will then increase confidence in ICT and have other knocks ons e.g. people word processing their reports!!
Not identifying area too much but southern England.
There's a fair chance that if you are in South England, that you will be in a similar sitation to me - i.e. on the SWGfL and using RM SafetyNet Plus.
Unfortunately, that means you have the same limitations I currently do - i.e. have filtering on for all, or turn portions of it off for all (no group filtering available etc!)
The school you described coming from will either have turned it off for all, been outside of that ISP or invested in third party software to allow internal customisation.
I will your thread up with too much more conversation so that people keep contributing to it(!), but if you want to PM me about anything (maybe find out what i've looked at so far, get an indication of prices etc) then feel free.
That should stand you in better stead with your ICT team. Have you gone to your line manager and explained that you feel the NM is useless? Are there other techs at the school who actually do some work?
Originally Posted by b_m
Ask the SLT to run a training session once a month after school. I did that and the staff use the whiteboards alot more! You would be surprised if you got them to use the whiteboard software, they will produce good lessons without the need to go to your ICT rooms!
Originally Posted by b_m
I know how you feel about this! If it is any consolation, when I came to our school, the HOD and the technician were about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Since I have been here I turned the whole department around, and in our old ofstead report we got a "satisfactory" for ICT, in the most recent one we got an "excellent", which the SLT put pretty much at my door! :)
Originally Posted by b_m
Students are pretty restricted, staff can go on pretty much anything
It differs greatly between the schools here, the ISP involved (EMBC) does the filtering and that is set by the main contact at the school. Typically all webmail, youtube, social sites are blocked by default but you can access them by logging into the EMBC portal.
To go back a few posts about RM and incompetent local managers - I will agree that things should be investigated thoroughly before raising tickets (as previously mentioned) but one thing you get with RM that you won't with many other solutions is a *huge* support base and a lot of different people you can go to for help. Considering just how easy making changes to networks is on RM systems (i.e. CC3/4) I would question that managers abilities a bit further, especially considering the comprehensive knowledgebase on offer there.
Personally though, going back to the filtering, I've been asked a couple of times to allow youtube "across the board" - something I've had to refuse to do on a "duty of care" basis but have been easily able to allow/block sites locally between different user levels via CC3/4/AD.
At the county level there are filters in place for the different age groups and for staff. However, we point all staff at the student one for the same reason that others discuss, which is that it makes it easier for staff to know which sites students will be able to access when they provide links etc.
The only exception to this is youtube, which similar to others, has been opened up to staff to allow access to "educational" clips on it but is still blocked for students.