How to change which websites are accessible to learners in school for schools using HfL Broadband (HICS)

    Published: 31 March 2020

    If you are continuing to work in school with the children of key workers, you may find that you want access to websites that are normally filtered out. For example, there may be a desire to relax temporarily the access to online game sites, or you might want YouTube access to reach engaging educational videos.

    The good news is that schools and settings that receive their broadband through Herts for Learning (the ‘HICS’ service) have a large degree of choice and control over the level of web filtering in place in their establishment.

    On HICS we have tailored our own standard filtering polices which we call Web Factors; WF4 to WF1. Schools can think of these like sunscreen factors, the higher the factor, the more filtering there is.

    What is the difference between the Web Factors?

    • WF1 is the least restrictive and can therefore be regarded as our baseline policy, being geared towards trusted users such as staff. It denies access to pornography, the promotion of illegal activities and to the propagation of hatred but most other material is allowed.
    • WF2 is very similar to WF3. The main difference being that games websites are accessible. After school clubs for example, may wish to deploy this policy, and it might be a choice to use this during the current situation of schools being largely closed.
    • WF3 is ideally suited for primary school children. YouTube and social networking sites such as Facebook are blocked. Restrictions are in place, denying access to non-educational games websites.
    • WF4 is generally the same as WF3 but it restricts access to Twitter. Twitter is available on every other filtering policy.

    It is possible to have computers from within the same school to be configured to different web filtering policies. For example, schools could have staff machines on WF1 and students on WF3.

    Another option is for schools to tailor their own WF1/2/3/4 policies. In this way, schools could take for example the standard WF2 or WF3 policy and modify it to meet their current needs. They could then change it back to the way it was at a future date.  This is a lot more straightforward than you may think and we are happy to talk people through how to do this.

    Needless to say, careful consideration should be given to changing the filtering level and the implications of doing so. This should be discussed with and agreed by senior leadership before requesting and implementing.

    If you receive your broadband through Herts for Learning and would like help in modifying the filtering in your school or setting, please contact the HFL Service Desk on 01438 844777 or


    Authored by Chris Carter and Kevin Crawley.


    Further blogs to read

    Is there free alternative that can support your longer-term strategy before you invest in remote teaching tools?

    Teaching and learning with technology – synchronous vs asynchronous

    Remote learning: maintaining connections post school closure

    Covid19; how are schools planning to communicate with students and staff during school closures?

    Good morning class! Easy ways to use video and sound to greet your students

    How to run a weekly assembly via live video – step by step guide

    How to change which websites are accessible to learners in school for schools using HfL Broadband (HICS)

    The world from your home – virtual trips and visits for children and families to enjoy

    Chasing the rainbow - the joy of colourful science experiments

    Supporting positive learning behaviours at home

    School governance and the impact of Covid-19

    Bridging the digital divide- how to help disadvantaged students stay connected


    Contact details

    Latest blogs

    Receive our latest posts direct to your inbox...