What is content filtering and how does it safeguard and enhance education for students?
Keeping students safe from the internet is paramount in any school safeguarding policies, with legislation requiring schools to have an appropriate filtering and monitoring service. Schools need to ensure they have a system in place.
Finding the balance between over-blocking and protecting students from harmful content can be difficult. Content filtering is a filtering system that can find the balance between blocking and not reducing learning resources. We will look at what content filtering is, how much control you have with the system and why content filtering is essential for education and safeguarding.
What is Content Filtering?
Content filtering protects students from inappropriate content by defining what is and is not appropriate content on the schools’ network. Schools have the authority to set the parameters of what content is accessible and content that is harmful.
Content filtering differs from URL filtering in one key way. URL filtering stops students from accessing inappropriate websites, whereas Content Filtering will block inappropriate content on the web page but allow the student to access the webpage to view the non-harmful content. URL and Content filtering are complementary systems. Together they offer complete and reliable control over student internet access.
Two of the most common types of Content Filtering
- Network-Based Filters – Filters from a network level
- Browser-Based Filters – Filters from a browser level
How much control do you have?
As previously mentioned, Schools can set what content is accessible and what is inappropriate. The filtering system does the rest in real-time, analysing the content, categorising the measures, and reporting student activity. Schools can group students, which is effective for learning because some content would be deemed inappropriate for early year students, but the content might be a learning resource for older students.
Why is content filtering essential for education and safeguarding?
Content filtering can be a helpful solution for safeguarding and educational purposes, having the control to block inappropriate content on a web page while allowing access to valuable resources for students to learn. A real-world example can be a history website that can have inappropriate pictures of weapons. The content filter will block the images, but pupils can still access the website information.
Content filtering will block harmful content or links on web pages that could carry malware, reducing the risk of a cyberattack on the schools’ network and safeguarding staff and pupils’ personal records.
In addition, filtering systems are a must for Schools. ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE) obliges schools to ensure appropriate filtering systems are in place for schools. UKSIC have produced guidance to what is appropriate filtering. But the important point is that it is part of legislation for schools to have a filtering system in place.
To summarise, content filtering is an essential part of a school’s safeguarding strategy. Not only does it mean your school adheres to legislation and protect students from harmful content. It allows pupils to surf the internet safely without limiting their access to helpful learning resources.