The Schools Broadband Programme provides an integrated set of services to schools which includes broadband connectivity, hosted services including content filtering, security services including anti-virus control and a centralised firewall.
These services are managed by the Schools Broadband Team which includes PDST Technology in Education working closely with the Department of Education and Skills and HEAnet.
The Broadband Service Desk is the single point of contact for schools in relation to the Schools Broadband Programme.
Broadband Service Desk
The Broadband Service Desk is the central point of contact providing schools with information, advice and technical support in relation to the Schools Broadband Programme.
To contact the Broadband Service Desk call 1800 33 44 66 or email us at email@example.com
Content Filtering Overview
Content filtering is an essential element of the Schools Broadband Programme. The purpose of Content filtering is to ensure (in so far as possible) that inappropriate websites and content are not accessible from within schools. Within the content filtering service provided, schools are given a choice of six different levels of content filtering so that they can choose a level that best meets their particular situation, age group of students etc. Schools can choose from these six levels, and the chosen level of content filtering is implemented by the Schools Broadband team for the school. If schools subsequently want to change the level that is applied, they can do so by a formal written communication from the school to the Schools Broadband Service Desk, which is the single point of contact for all schools in relation to schools broadband. Content filtering systems classify websites into different ‘categories’, and these categories are used to control which category of website is allowed for schools on the different filtering levels. Level one is the most restrictive (as outlined below), while level six is the ‘widest’ level available as it allows access to websites such as youtube, personal blogging and social networking. The six levels are summarised below, all six levels block access to inappropriate material in categories such as pornography, violence etc.,
This content filtering level allows access to a specific list of educational and related websites and other websites commonly used by schools. Level 1 is used by a very small number of schools, as it is generally perceived as being a little too restrictive by most schools.
This level allows access to a wide range (i.e. millions) of educational and other websites but it blocks websites belonging to the ‘games’ category.
This level is currently used by a majority of schools. It allows access to millions of websites including games but blocks ‘YouTube’, and blocks access to websites belonging to the ‘personal websites’ category and websites such as Facebook belonging to the ‘Social Networking’ category.
This level allows access to the same websites as Level 3, but allows access to ‘YouTube’, which has become widely used in schools for teaching and learning in the last few years.
This level allows access to the same websites as Level 4, but allows access to ‘personal websites category’, and other similar types of websites, such as blogs.
This is the widest level of content filtering available. This level allows access to the same websites as Level 5, but allows access to Social Networking sites, such as ‘facebook’, and other similar social networking web sites.
The Content Filtering System
The Schools Broadband Network operates the filtering solution provided by Palo Alto Networks which is a hosted services designed to provide Web URL filtering for schools, libraries, government agencies and enterprise businesses of all sizes.
Websites are put into categories, which in turn are divided across the filtering levels. Access to a website depends upon on its category, and the filtering level that a school has applied for.
Despite having millions of websites categorised it is possible that a website may be uncategorised or may have been categorised incorrectly. Where this is the case it is possible to suggest a category for this website to the filtering system.
Website categories within filtering levels
The following link provides details of the categories of websites / URLs that are ‘allowed’ or ‘blocked’ for each of the 6 levels of Content Filtering 2023 PAN DB Categories
Check a website category
Use the following link to check the category of a website Palo Alto Networks Category Lookup. The system is automated and usually responds within 24 hours. Once the website is categorised, and assuming it does not come under the blocked categories, it should be possible to view the website on the Schools Broadband Network.
How to change your school filtering level
Schools wishing to change their filtering level can download and return the Content Filtering Level (CFL) Form
Requesting a 2nd filtering level for a school
A school may elect to have a different filtering level applied to a limited number of devices within the school. This is implemented by applying a different filtering level to a range of IP addresses allocated to the school. To use this different filtering level a device is configured to use one of the IP addresses from the range assigned to the 2nd filtering level. Click here for further information on split-level content filtering. Schools wishing to have a 2nd filtering level should download and return the Split Level Content Filtering (SLCF) Form.
Adult Content Filtering
The ‘Adult Content Filtering Level’ is a setting that can be enabled, typically for a couple of hours to facilitate teacher training events in a school. Certain content categories e.g. ‘Pornography’ and ‘Malware’ will still be blocked during these periods. Schools wishing to avail of this filtering level need to download and return the Adult Content Filtering Application Form to the Broadband Service Desk one week in advance of when the service is required.