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Photo by Rachel Mortimer

What is a VPN?

Rachel Mortimer —

Our students often try to use a VPN at school to bypass the controls we have in place because we use N4L and Linewize which contain filters.

This article was published last year but it is certainly still an issue for staff when attempting to engage our students in lessons. Our cybersafety hub has an article for parents to understand what a VPN is. They are not necessarily a 'bad' thing but when used by students in a school, they are normally to circumvent the blocks and filters we have in place.

Our blocks are in place for two reasons; to help our students focus on their learning more easily and when content is not appropriate for an underage audience. We block gaming,  shopping, live sports sites and during school time, Youtube. (The teacher has the ability to unblock Youtube when using for educational reasons). We find these distract our students from their learning. Linewize automatically blocks or flags searches or sites that refer to adult material, hate speech or are prejudiced and self-harm type sites. The AI of the computers to detect these types of searches is not always accurate and we will be working on ways to ensure that students can still access websites that are helpful for their learning.

We want to support our students to engage in safe choices and using a VPN does not align with our core values of respect and truth. Two of our core values include respect and truth and we hope that our students respect the lessons that teachers have prepared and do not feel the need to hide online to 'do their own thing' that we may not endorse during school time. Being on a VPN increases secrecy and reduces the trusting relationship between teacher and student. We appreciate your support as we help our students learn to navigate their digital space in a constructive way.