About Shoeburyness High School
Shoeburyness High School is a large secondary school located in Essex, United Kingdom, which has around 1500 pupils aged between 11- 18 and 156 teaching staff. The school is a member of the Southend Excellence Cluster that has access to a wider variety of services, resources and expertise benefiting staff, pupils and parents. While Shoeburyness High School is committed to achieving a high level of academic success, the school also places great importance in the social and emotional wellbeing of students in order to provide the best learning environment. The school has a zero tolerance attitude towards bullying and disruptive behaviour.
Some years ago, the school started providing each pupil with an email account on their Microsoft Exchange Server to allow them to communicate with other students and staff. However, it was important to the school to ensure acceptable use of the system in the same way as the school ensures acceptable behaviour in the classroom.
In practice this was proving to be a difficult task: some students were being exposed to inappropriate spam mails, and others were sending emails with offensive language or unsuitable attachments to other students. The school realised that they needed to find a way to control their students’ email use. Kirk Sheehan, Director of Learning Technologies at Shoeburyness High School, took on the task to search for a solution that could automatically detect and block emails with inappropriate words.
After searching the Internet for a suitable product, Kirk discovered Policy Patrol. The school had never used anything like this before and the school board was therefore keen to see the benefits. Kirk downloaded a trial version of Policy Patrol and was very impressed with its varied functions and multiple benefits. Kirk says: “We actually found that Policy Patrol could do much more than we originally thought, not only filtering out inappropriate words, but also automatically notifying staff and warning & restricting abusers. This meant that Policy Patrol considerably reduced the amount of time needed to administer and monitor our student’s accounts”.
Kirk configured Policy Patrol for Exchange to detect unacceptable language in their students’ emails and automatically ban subsequent breaches of policy. The school uses the Policy Patrol notification system to inform students if they have breached the email policies by using unacceptable language, and informs year managers of the detected abuse. Policy Patrol also informs staff when students’ emails contain words that indicate potential social or emotional problems. In addition, Policy Patrol prevents students from emailing certain attachments such as MP3 games and videos, avoiding distractions and possibly unapproved content.
“We found that Policy Patrol could do much more than we originally thought, not only filtering out inappropriate words, but also automatically notifying staff and warning & restricting abusers. This meant that Policy Patrol considerably reduced the amount of time needed to administer and monitor our student’s accounts”.
Kirk Sheehan, Director of Learning Technologies, Shoeburyness High School
Policy Patrol’s intelligent spam filters prevent spam messages from ending up in students’ and staff’s mailboxes, saving much needed time for school staff and saving unsuspecting students from offensive and sometimes even dangerous content. Finally, Policy Patrol acts as an early warning system for the school, alerting staff to areas of concern amongst pupils, such as drug abuse, bullying, under-age pregnancy/sexual activity, self-harm and vandalism. All of the students know that the system is looking for keywords and phrases so they do not feel that their privacy is in any way being violated. Policy Patrol allows staff to follow an email thread and act upon it if deemed necessary in order to get the whole story.
With Policy Patrol, Shoeburyness High School can now ensure acceptable use of their Exchange Server email system by blocking spam, monitoring students’ emails, alerting staff to potential problems and automatically restricting the email privileges of re-offenders.
Policy Patrol has allowed Shoeburyness High School to regain control over their email system. The school was so impressed with Policy Patrol that their Head Teacher discussed Policy Patrol at a meeting with other Head Teachers of Southend. Kirk was subsequently asked to talk about all aspects of computer security whereupon Policy Patrol was highlighted as the one application that solved a series of age-old problems within schools.
Kirk: “Policy Patrol is much more than just a word filter, it is an email control system. It saves the ICT Support Team a huge amount of work and informs staff of serious emotional and physical student issues. As a school we have a duty of care for our students. Policy Patrol has alerted us at an early stage to problems that could have gone unnoticed or taken longer to discover. It has enabled us to intervene and ensure students receive appropriate help and advice at a very early stage. All of this is a bonus to what we actually purchased the product for in the first place!”