Wellington’s Seatoun school was among the last of 2,450+ schools to be upgraded to the “Managed Network”, which provides 825,000-plus students, teachers and school staff across New Zealand with smart and safe internet for teaching and learning.
Principal John Western told Minister of Education Chris Hipkins at a small event marking the rollout’s completion that it’s reassuring to be able to let parents and the wider community know their kids are safer when using the internet at school.
“We have worried about a safe learning environment forever – and certainly after the events in Christchurch, it only brought home how easy things can go wrong for people to access things on the internet,” he says.
“I believe we have a duty of care to make sure the experience is as safe as possible for our young learners. So that means we need to have some confidence that they won’t inadvertently go to the wrong place or see the wrong thing.”
The nationwide rollout of the new technology was completed today by Crown company Network for Learning (N4L).The new solution has already prevented millions of malicious online threats and inappropriate websites from reaching New Zealand schools and their students.
In May, N4L blocked more than 4 million cyber security threats and also prevented more than 3 million attempts to gain unauthorised access to school systems. In the same month, N4L filtering tools have stopped more than 399 million attempts to access inappropriate content.
“We’ve used N4L for a long time and we have some scripting and certificates on all our devices to ensure we are even filtering Google images,” says Western.
N4L CEO Larrie Moore attended the event at Seatoun School and says he is pleased with the rollout. But the company’s job is far from complete, he says.
“Running the country’s largest Managed Network with more than 825,000 people using our services every day, comes with enormous responsibility.
“Safety and security is a top priority for our company and there will always be work to do behind the scenes, with our government and technology partners, to keep the internet a fantastic, positive, safe place for learning.”
Moore says that technology is not a silver bullet – that responsible digital citizenship is also needed for a safe online experience.
He credits the success of the rollout, which averaged 225 schools every month, by working closely with the Ministry of Education, the schools’ local technology partners, and the company’s key technology partner, Spark, as well as global cybersecurity company Fortinet, which supplies the enterprise-grade firewall and web filtering solution that went into every school.