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15 May, 2023

DfE School Guidance – Meeting Network Switching Standards

15 May, 2023

Is your school meeting the DfE’s Network Switching Standards?

In January 2024, the Department for Education updated their guidance to schools regarding how to meet digital and technology standards. This standard specifies the minimum requirements for switch performance, management, security, and resilience.

Switches connect network devices and allow them to communicate with one another. Switches must be configured to meet the needs of your school and have enough capacity to handle the amount of data moving across the network. Trying to access digital resources and information can be disrupted if a suitable solution is not in place.

The DfE requirements for meeting network switching standards specifies four categories in relation to the technical capabilities of your network infrastructure, which the DfE advises your school to meet.

  • The network switches should provide fast, reliable and secure connections to all users both wired and wireless.
  • Have a platform that can centrally manage the network switching infrastructure.
  • The network switches should have security features to protect users and data from unauthorised access.
  • Core network switches should be connected to at least one UPS to reduce the impact of outages.

We are able to guide you through these guidelines and help you implement network infrastructure solutions that are most suitable for your school.

DfE Network Switching Standards for Schools- Tel Group

1.  Secure Connections

Schools are high-capacity environments, with a large number of users simultaneously accessing the network. A high-performance solution will make sure that the speed and management of data transferred around the network is efficient, secure and doesn’t slow down as more devices use it.

2. Central Management Platform

To ensure effective performance, a central management console will enable efficient and secure control and monitoring of the school network.

Any new switching hardware should be part of a centralised network management package with appropriate warranty, support, and automatic software update functionality.

3. Security Features

Network switching infrastructure without adequate security may allow unauthorised users access to secure information, such as student information. You should ensure that switches are configured to support network segregation, security and quality of service.

4. Connect to at least one UPS

Teaching and administrative operations would be restricted by a total or partial network outage. Therefore, core network switches should be connected to at least one uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to reduce the impact of outages or power surges.

When should you meet the standards?

For the upgrade of switches, the recommendations are to meet the standard when you need to replace your current solution that is underperforming or unsupported. For implementing security features and connection to a UPS, the same is recommended, or when following a scheduled maintenance or configuration review.

How can we help?

You can ensure that your network switching infrastructure is up-to-date, efficient, and secure by adhering to the standard and following the technical recommendations and advice outlined.

At Tel Group, we create, set up, and implement network infrastructure solutions for numerous MATS and schools. From cabling through to infrastructure configuration and management, we will help your school exceed the DfE standards.

The DfE set out eleven categories your school needs to meet: