Last year on Safer Internet Day we highlighted how we help create a safer and more secure online learning environment for schools and kura across Aotearoa.

12 months on, the world has drastically changed. Through two lockdowns, virtual classrooms and online testing, learning from home has become the ‘new normal’ for ākonga throughout New Zealand. With so much change happening in such a short space of time, we were keen to ensure one thing remained the same: ākonga would be protected while learning online, both inside the kura gates and out.

We help protect ākonga at school by providing Safe & Secure Internet. Strengthening a school’s defence from the worst of the web, this multi-layered protection starts with the school’s Managed Network connection and includes access to Web Filtering, Firewall, DDoS Protection and DNS Threat Protection.

And it’s this last layer that has provided the technology to build our tool for keeping ākonga safe while learning at home; Switch on Safety.

The Switch on Safety filter is simply applied by changing the DNS settings on a student’s device. This blocks unsafe websites such as those with scams, malicious software and inappropriate content, and our filtering technology automatically adds unsafe websites as they arise.

Parents can apply this free filter to their children’s devices and schools can put it on any device they send home with students. Introduced for the first day of Term 2 2020, the filter had been downloaded by 25,028 households to one or more of their children’s devices by the end of the Term, with blocks on 2.8 million unsafe websites and just under 500,000 online threats.

Principals, including Bream Bay College’s Wayne Buckland, have advised their parent communities of the importance of the filter.

“It’s not about whether you trust your kids or not, it’s about stopping that world that’s out there which is trying to get on your devices and steal information and do things which are inappropriate.” 

Together for a better internet
While Switch on Safety will protect ākonga from the majority of threats, safety can’t be provided by this technology alone. We all have a part to play, schools included, to ensure students create a healthy online environment through digital citizenship. We also work closely with partners CERT NZ and Netsafe to ensure a well-rounded approach to supporting online safety and education. 

With the start of a new school year upon us, now is a good time to take advantage of the free resources on offer from these partners. CERT NZ have outlined some key steps to make your school’s online environment safer and more secure, while Netsafe provides a range of online safety education resources for both educators and parents, ensuring ākonga are not only safer at school, but safer at home.

Click here for a Switch on Safety flyer that can be shared with whānau.