Schools and their students benefiting from improved security and safety features

Our nationwide upgrade has now reached more than 1,500 schools!

This means more than 60% of schools have now received the new hardware that is designed to keep teachers and students safer when using the internet.

The rollout of this hardware is on track, with all schools scheduled to receive the new technology by the end of June. This would not have been possible without the many technology partners across the country who are helping us.

Here’s what schools are saying about the upgrade:

“Love when people turn up when they say they’re going to and do what they say they’re going to do – Ka Pai N4L.” – Caroline Bush, Principal, St Joseph’s School (Orakei)

“Prior to the FortiGate, teachers were complaining about the speed of the internet, but since the upgrade, no one has groaned or moaned to me, so that must be good.” – Andrea Joyce, Principal, Tisbury School

“We did have an issue where not everything was working smoothly the next day, however this was dealt with quickly and efficiently.” – Diane Bates, Principal, Oruaiti School

“The safety and wellbeing of our students is of a huge priority for us, so having access to the tools and technology to keep our students safe online, at no extra cost to our school, is super important. The transition to N4L’s new security system was very smooth, and I am very happy with the end result.”  – Chris Jarnet, Principal, Ngaruawahia High School

Chris Jarnet, Principal, Ngaruawahia High School

What’s part of your upgrade

Improved filtering and firewall services.
The new hardware is designed by Fortinet, a company leading the way in network security for governments, businesses and education providers. We’ve worked closely with their team, and the team at Spark, to make sure schools are getting an industry leading security solution specifically designed to meet the needs of New Zealand schools.

As well as improved filtering, the new FortiGate hardware also offers a brand new firewall, which is able to understand the content of traffic leaving and entering every school’s network…it’s set to change the game and means your school is now better protected against bad traffic.

Note – If your school is still paying for FortiGate, or another third party solution, you can talk through what this means for you with your N4L Relationship Manager – simply email the team at with your name, school, contact number and a good time to call and the Relationship Manager who looks after your school will be in touch.

Better ways to manage the use of VPNs.
No matter where users are, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) let users safely access networks through an encrypted connection. But VPNs can also be used by students to bypass a school’s web filtering or security. When a new unwanted VPN is discovered at one school,our network automatically blocks that same VPN across the Managed Network, which means it can’t be used by students at other schools either.

The cyber security rollout is the first phase of a wider upgrade to N4L’s Managed Network, and gives schools  more advanced web filtering tools to keep students safer online; and will better equip schools to block the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) used by students attempting to bypass web filtering.

We want your feedback!
A few days after your school is upgraded, your school will receive a survey to help us assess your upgrade experience. The survey is emailed to the name of the contact person at your school associated with the upgrade.

We encourage you to fill in the survey as this really helps us improve our services. We’ve had more than 500 schools complete the survey so far and 92.2% of responses have indicated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the transition. This is good news but we can always do better, and your feedback is super important to us!

We also monitor the health of every school’s connection, which includes bandwidth and usage – so if we think a school’s internet is being affected in any way, we’ll work with the school to upgrade their connection.

What’s coming – smarter reporting
We know many of you are looking for an easy way to access insightful reports on your students’ online behaviour, such as what apps they use, how much bandwidth they use, what sites they visit etc.  

While we currently have a couple of standard ‘out of the box’ reports available, we’ve been working closely alongside schools, and the sector, to understand exactly what information is useful. This will help to inform a smarter reporting solution – we’ll keep you posted.

N4L will also be rolling out new reporting tools to help schools better understand and manage student internet use, including how much bandwidth they are using; which apps are using this bandwidth; and potential breaches of the school’s internet use policy.

Self-service tools to help you make your own changes
It goes without saying that having the chance to make your own filtering and firewall changes is important. Right now, we’re working on a self-service tool called FortiPortal that will provide you the ability to do this. We’re in the middle of running some tests – and plan to have it ready for schools for Term 3.

More bandwidth
We don’t believe bandwidth (speed) should be a barrier to learning, and we’re currently working with our partners to look at how schools can have easier access to more bandwidth when needed.

Our research shows that New Zealand is in a unique position as one of the only countries in the world where the government is investing in a nationwide broadband programme that not only connects every school to fast, reliable and uncapped internet; but is also funding robust security for schools.

We are super excited to be helping schools get the best possible internet for their learning and we will continue to work on new features that will help you make the most of your digital connections.