Grant Johnson has been the Director of IT at Rugby School Group since late 2018. The Group consists of two schools and international partners. Grant was tasked with improving the Group’s IT infrastructure security and all aspects of security and safeguarding technology.
Considering cybersecurity is a growing concern for all organisations, especially involving children, Grant wanted to ensure all the necessary protocols and processes were in place. Knowing Adam Brigham’s (MSP Lab) reputation within the Education industry, Grant knew the school would be in very capable hands and contacted MSP Lab immediately.
What Were The Challenges That Led To Contacting MSP Lab?
Rugby School put the security and safety of their pupils first and wanted to ensure they had a partner who could help them make sure that they were doing everything possible to secure the school’s systems. This included providing comprehensive filtering for their pupils and reporting for the schools Designation Safeguard Leads (DSL).
Rugby School’s IT Services department wanted to ensure that they provided highly available and robust systems for the school leadership team to use and monitor and keep the network secure. In many cases the safeguarding reporting had fallen down to the IT Departments in the sector, Grant was keen to ensure that this would not be the case for Rugby school.
There was a void that required filling and that’s when Grant stepped in to find solutions including:
- Replacement of Next-Generation Firewalls
- Increased Network Security with easy visibility and reporting
- A robust and highly available solution
- Flexible and customisable web filtering solution
- Detailed safeguarding reports of pupil activity, to comply with “Keeping Children Safe in Education”
“Adam helped work out how to manage the team, coach them as well as doing some work around strategy, audit and really understand the lay of the land. Then to start building relationships and understanding how the school operated with suppliers and the partnerships that were in place. They together identified some ‘quick wins’, including ‘low hanging fruit from a cost perspective and also ability perspective.”
How Did MSP Lab Help Find The Right Solutions?
Grant and MSP Lab had numerous discussions about how to further optimise the IT infrastructure, especially since Rugby School had just merged with a prep school, Bilton Grange. That meant it was time to consolidate and the first order of business was to replace their firewalls. At the time, they had four systems in place which MSP Lab reduced down to one.
They helped create a more streamlined and secure system by providing the school with Fortinet Next-Generation firewalls and Fastvue Reporting which included the following:
- 2 x Fortigate 600E
- 1 x Fortigate 100F
- 2 x FortiSwitch WAN Switches
- FortiAnalyzer as a Service
- FortiManager as a Service
- Fastvue Reporter
Finding The Best Suppliers And Vendors
MSP Lab helped the school forge better relationships with vendors and suppliers such as HPE, Aruba and Fortinet among others. As MSP Lab is relatively vendor agnostic, they won’t recommend someone based solely on personal preference but rather the vendor’s reputation and ability. This is not always the case with all IT consultancy businesses, which is one of the many things that sets MSP Lab apart.
MSP Lab effectively acted as the school’s consultants facilitating the entire process, scoring vendors in the right way, and finding the most suitable partners for the school. It was a multi-vendor approach and they achieved a significant amount of work from a commercial perspective, setting up meetings and briefings with the IT team.
End To End Project Management
Their approach was based on transparency telling the school exactly what the plan of action was and keeping them updated throughout. This involved implementing the necessary processes and making sure the school could manage with the available resources.
They developed a phased project approach to make sure they could implement every step without significant disruption to the school. MSP Lab helped identify patterns of behaviour, especially those that might be destructive or impact school operations.
Understanding The Data
Grant has been in education for 16 years and knows first-hand that safeguarding reporting has always been very difficult. The information used to be hard to read but now, the school’s safeguarding leads can more easily understand all the data as it’s summarised in layman’s terms.
While there’s always scope to do more, MSP Lab has given Rugby School what it didn’t have before – ‘greater visibility as to the actions of their students and staff’. With the help of MSP Lab, Rugby School is now more confident that they are protecting their children from a security perspective.
With the main project completed, Rugby School is now learning how to best utilise the systems and processes but they’re not alone. MSP Lab continues to assist with advice and guidance.
MSP Lab designed and co-created a bespoke web filtering package using their years of experience for Rugby School. In summary the school’s protection is different for every year group and uses technology such as:
- Category, DNS and Content aware based web filtering
- Application control based on signatures
- Intrusion Prevention Systems
- Instant Alerts on Security or Safeguarding concerns
- Single Sign On (SSO) from any device
- Cloud-based reporting
Pupils have sleep timers so the younger students get their internet access cut off earlier with no way of accessing “bad” sites. This not only promotes a good night’s sleep but also enables the IT team to monitor online behaviour whether anyone is trying to access gambling sites, for example, and how much time they spend online.
Pupils browsing trends may not be a blatant security issue or safeguarding concern, but does provide insight into their mental state. We can now provide more accurate numbers and statistics with a better ability to provide appropriate solutions.
Why Work With MSP Lab
MSP Lab is a cut above the rest in terms of cost and ability thanks to their vast industry knowledge and experience. They are involved in several community events between Bursars, IT Managers and IT Directors adding tremendous value to the community.
Adam is also presenting at the ISC conference which shows his level of commitment to provide everyone with advice and guidance on IT governance. If a school requires assistance in safeguarding and faces similar Network Security challenges, Grant highly recommends they contact MSP Lab.
What Rugby School Had To Say
When asked about working with MSP Lab, Grant had the following to say:
“MSP Lab are very, very flexible, honest and work with integrity throughout. They’ll tell you when they don’t know how to do something or if they don’t agree with you. It’s just a positive relationship without being complicated. I’d say it’s more of a partnership rather than a customer-supplier relationship. They helped us get to the vendors, which is typically quite difficult to do.”
“The way they work with schools and IT teams is admirable as they allow other people in Rugby School to get involved wherever needed. They include people in discussions and treat everyone as a partner promoting a spirit of teamwork to get things done properly the first time. When someone does fall behind or something goes wrong, MSP Lab works hard to ensure it gets resolved or they find another method of solving the issue.”
Grant Johnson – Director of IT, Rugby School
More About MSP Lab
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