Warning for schools over agency closure

Advantexs Stephen OConnell
Advantexs Stephen OConnell

Northumberland schools could be without access to adequate e-safety advice and security resources when a Government-backed support network closes this year.

IT experts Advantex Network Solutions Ltd warns that the end of Northern Grid for Learning (NGfL) will have a ‘massive’ impact on schools, colleges and other training providers unless they act and start to draw up alternative plans.

The countdown has started to NGfL winding down at the end of July, when broadband procurement, safety, safeguarding and digital literacy services will no longer be available to around 450 schools and dozens of other sector providers.

NGfL works to keep thousands of young people in the region safe and secure. In the light of its closure, schools and others will need to seek alternative arrangements if they are to comply with changes to statutory guidance, warns Advantex.

Stephen O’Connell, managing director of Advantex, which is based in Gateshead and provides broadband advice and e-safety services to dozens of the region’s schools, says that the closure plans could not have come at a worse time.

He added that North-East schools could be staring into ‘an online safety and security abyss’ if they fail to act now.

“The loss of Northern Grid for Learning’s services will have a far reaching impact for education leaders and managers who aren’t prepared,” he said.

“The DfE (Department for Education) makes it clear that children have to be safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material.

“The spotlight – and responsibility – is on governing bodies and proprietors to ensure that not only is appropriate web filtering in place but also the correct monitoring.”