Case Study - Portsmouth Grammar School

A Network That Makes the Grade

Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) is all about providing the best education to young people. Boys and girls, from nursery up to sixth form, receive excellent teaching, superb pastoral care and co-curricular opportunities at one of the country’s leading private day schools.

As part of offering a unique educational experience, PGS encourages pupils to bring their own tablets, smartphones and other connected devices to school. To enable students, as well as staff and visitors, access to the internet and emails on their devices throughout the school grounds, PGS requires excellent Wi-Fi coverage.

Providing a strong Wi-Fi signal to every area is complicated by the structure of the institution itself. Based in a former army barracks, the school walls were originally built to withstand an artillery attack - they are an impregnable 1.5 metres thick and filled with flint. These rock-solid walls, while great for fending off the enemy at times of war, make providing Wi-Fi access across the campus a technological challenge. PGS wanted to introduce network access points, but these could not be located in every room, as the thickness of the walls would hamper connectivity.

PGS’s old network was far from meeting needs. Built on Aruba wireless access points, the complexity of the system meant administrative staff needed training and were unable to fully control it.

Robust protection, to keep pupils safe online and private data secure, was also a key factor. To achieve this the school wanted a greater level of protection than its existing WatchGuard XCS product provided.

Better Connectivity, Stronger Security

Having trusted WatchGuard XCS for many years, PGS turned to WatchGuard to create a robust wireless network. This network comprises 136 WatchGuard AP100, AP102 and AP200 Access Points spread across the school, with one Access Point in every third room. This cost-effective deployment ensures there is full Wi-Fi signal across every part of the campus.

The Access Points are connected to WatchGuard’s XTM 860 network security appliance with integrated Radius authentication. Radius authenticates a user as soon as they are on the school grounds, removing the need for laborious login pages. While guests also join the network automatically, email access on their device requires authentication through a password provided by the IT department.

Online and email security is provided by WatchGuard’s Unified Threat Management (UTM) suite, which offers a complete cyber defence package, including AV, IPS WebBlocker, SpamBlocker, Application Control and Packet Filtering. In particular, the school was attracted to WatchGuard’s WebBlocker service, as it allows control over which websites pupils can access.

James Priory, Headmaster of PGS, said: “Already having WatchGuard solutions at the school, we knew it could be trusted to deliver a reliable and robust network. Being able to create a good wireless network with access points in every third room has been very cost effective for us, which is an important consideration. Having a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the school now means that tutors, students and visitors have continual access to key resources and communications wherever they are on campus, helping us to deliver the aims of our curriculum.

WatchGuard Wireless is More

The improved security and connectivity provided by WatchGuard has enabled PGS to further enhance its digital capabilities. The headmaster concludes: “Thanks to WatchGuard, our pupils’ devices are securely, consistently and easily connected to the school network. What’s more, the WatchGuard solution has enabled the school to introduce new technologies with confidence, knowing they will be secure. We now have Apple TV as a learning resource and we’re currently rolling out plans to encourage pupils to bring their own tablets – extending our teaching experience with built-in peace of mind.”



At the same time it is reassuring to know that authentication kicks in when required and the invisibility of the WatchGuard solution means that our more adventurous pupils aren’t able to hack into the network!

James Priory, Headmaster,
Portsmouth Grammar School


Thanks to WatchGuard, our pupils’ devices are securely, consistently and easily connected to the school network.

James Priory, Headmaster,
Portsmouth Grammar School

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