WatchGuard helps Portsmouth Grammar School pupils work safely through 1.5 metre walls

  • Posted by Fran Cator
  • January 20, 2016 3:46 PM GMT

Ubiquitous Wifi and strong security provides safe online learning

20 January 2016: WatchGuard has successfully overcome 1.5 metre, rock-solid walls at Portsmouth Grammar School to deliver strong Wifi in over 300 rooms while maintaining robust protection, keeping pupils, staff and visitors safe online and ensuring private data is secure. This has allowed the school to offer an innovative digital educational experience by encouraging pupils to bring their own tablets, smartphones and other connected mobile devices into the classrooms.

Founded in 1732, Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) provides education for boys and girls, from nursery up to sixth form and is based in a former army barracks. While the impregnable, flint-filled school walls were once ideal for withstanding enemy artillery attacks, they are also good at blocking radio signals, making WiFi access across the campus a major challenge. Even with network access points in every room, the thickness of the walls would hamper connectivity.

However, WatchGuard came up with a solution, creating a network of 150 WatchGuard AP100, AP102 and AP200 Wireless Access Points across the school, with one located in every other room. This approach reduced the cost of deployment while delivering a full WiFi signal across every part of the campus. The Access Points are connected to a WatchGuard’s XTM 860 network security appliance that authenticates a user as soon as they are on the school grounds, removing the need for laborious login pages. Guests can also join the network automatically if they have a password provided by the IT department. Online and email security is also provided by WatchGuard’s Unified Threat Management (UTM) suite running on the XTM 860, which offers a complete cyber security defence package, including Anti-Virus, Intrusion Prevention, WebBlocker, SpamBlocker, Application Control and Packet Filtering. Importantly, the school can use WatchGuard’s WebBlocker service to control which websites pupils can access.

WatchGuard’s powerful Fireware® operating system is the first in the industry with true consolidation of wired and wireless management in a single integrated view. This provides a real-time, single-pane-of-glass interface for analysing wireless coverage, evaluating traffic and channel conflicts, as well as identifying and plugging network vulnerabilities for both wired and wireless networks.

The improved security and connectivity provided by WatchGuard has enabled Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) to further enhance its digital capabilities.

“Thanks to WatchGuard, our pupils’ devices are securely, consistently and easily connected to the school network,” said Tim Howlett, head of IT at Portsmouth Grammar School. “What’s more, the WatchGuard solution has enabled the school to introduce new technologies with confidence, knowing they will be secure, while it is reassuring to know that our more adventurous pupils aren’t able to hack into the network!”

“Secure, ubiquitous wireless is a must have for any school wanting to harness the latest technology and services to deliver a rich online educational experience, said to Jonathan Whitley, Northern Europe sales director at WatchGuard Technologies. “While the historic building occupied by Portsmouth Grammar School presented a unique set of challenges, the combination of WatchGuard Access Points and XTM network security appliance made it possible to deliver reliable connectivity and security at far less cost compared to other solutions.”

WatchGuard will be featuring its range of UTM devices and wireless access points on Stand E400 at BETT, from 20-23 January, Excel London