The Warwickshire ICT Development Service provides active real-time monitoring to over 200 primary schools and 16 secondary schools. They are a trade subscription service that schools can subscribe to in order to satisfy both the DfE and PREVENT Online Safety requirements. By monitoring events in real-time, the service can pick up and act on concerns immediately giving schools peace of mind that no incidents will slip through the net. Steve Holley, Esafety Systems Engineer, from Warwickshire ICT development service talks about over 10 years of experience of using FD Monitor, (formerly Futures Cloud and PCE).
How long have you been in your role?
I have over 10 years experience working with Future Digital’s software.
What age ranges do you cover?
We have two key areas: In primary schools we provide active monitoring. In secondary schools we provide a mixture. Some schools use the software directly and some with us providing active monitoring.
Why do schools need online monitoring?
The Keeping Children Safe In Education (KCSIE) published in 2016, requires schools to have an effective filtering and monitoring service within schools. There are also the obligations under ‘PREVENT’, which means schools must actively monitor for extremist activity.
How has FD Monitor helped students to keep safe in the schools you monitor?
FD Monitor is powerful monitoring software that allows our monitoring team to identify potential violations. Any inappropriate text or phrases will trigger the system to take a screenshot of the violation that is then stored and can be investigated further. Warwickshire Local Authority is the first authority in the country to rollout FD Monitor and monitor violations on a large scale.
What impact does the software have in schools?
Primary: In primary schools the monitoring activities tend to be mainly identifying miss-use and traffic from inappropriate words. However, sometimes more serious issues are uncovered.
Secondary: In secondary schools the main traffic potentially is from students suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts. It is important for these types of alerts that we are able to contact schools in real time.
You are monitoring several schools at a time. How easy is it to achieve with Future Digital?
FD Monitor is critical in our ability to monitor several schools at once. Our analysts can easily see priority captures using the pre-graded system.
Explain the process as to how your system works.
We monitor schools’ consoles throughout the day. FD Monitor creates pre-graded captures, identifying highlighted concerns from pupil activity in our schools. We generate an instant report and analysis. We then go through the pre-graded capture and then have our own severity grading system. After this we contact the schools in a timeframe dependant on severity. Occasionally we are highly concerned and need to contact them immediately. We have also sometimes had to engage with third parties including the police and Warwickshire Safeguarding.
Have you found the support effective at Future Digital?
The support we receive from Future Digital is both efficient and prompt.
Have you looked at other solutions?
Other software solutions can look hi-tech in demo, but I have found once putting them into use, they are not as effective as they do not enable you to act upon the information quickly.
What stands out for you with FD Monitor?
FD Monitor really scores on the console it has recently updated to. It is very clear and easy to act upon very quickly. It’s pre-grading is also very intelligent and reduces the false positives you find in other software. I have monitored using Future Digital’s products for years but the console change has made a massive difference. Now looking in real-time we have lots more information and significant captures we can deal with.
Have you ever found schools leave FD Monitor
To be honest, we retain all our customers year-on-year, its not a case of anyone leaving!
If you were to give a summary of FD Monitor, what would you say?
FD Monitor enables the ICT Development Service to deliver our gold standard E-Safety monitoring.
When showing the software to other safeguarding leads, what reaction have you found?
When showing the software in action, safeguarding leads have been very impressed.