Content Filtering on the Broadband Sandwell network.

The Internet connection to Sandwell schools is filtered so that access to inappropriate content is restricted. The filtering system in place is provided via Synetrix Ltd by Netsweeper, a Canadian company who are amongst the leading suppliers of Internet filtering technologies. Netsweeper filtering systems have been variously used on the Schools Broadband network since September 2005.

Filtering URLs allows us to provide a level of safety for users, whether young people or adult, and helps to prevent our users from being presented with inappropriate web content that may offend or frighten people, particularly children in our care.

URL filtering should not be regarded as a 100 per cent guard against users finding inappropriate material. The nature of the Internet is such that new resources are being made available every day, for this reason a multinational filtering system is essential as this ensures that a large number of people are involved in providing this security. There are a number of measures that schools should take to complement the filtering system. These include:


Having and maintaining an acceptable use policy

Ensure that your school's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is in place and has the agreement of all parties, such as staff, parents and governors. What does the policy expect to happen if a student carries out searches for inappropriate material, and finds something that Netsweeper has not been able to block?


Reporting unacceptable websites that you may come across

If you find a resource that you think should be blocked, subject to the guidance below, please call the Broadband Sandwell helpdesk on 0121 569 2400 or email the link to . We will endeavour to block further access immediately.


Unblocking websites that you think are incorrectly categorised

If you find a website that you want to use but find that it is blocked, please contact our helpdesk or use this form to request unblocking of the resource. Please note that unblocking may take longer as it will be necessary to determine the possible effects of unblocking a website before we will be able to agree that it can be allowed. Testing of the website's contents can take some time to carry out.

Note: The number of occasions where we resist such recategorisations is very low. At present, there are only a small number of websites where Broadband Sandwell are resisting schools' requests to change the disallowed status:


Website URL Reason for blocking

child safety

child safety

network security


If you believe that we are blocking other websites that your students need, please make a request using the unblocking request form.

Guidance for the use of the Broadband Sandwell Helpdesk

As you will understand, our priority is to safeguard the security of the network and therefore of students; we may therefore need to confirm your identity and so may choose to discuss and report your issue to your school's ICT staff or Head Teacher rather than responding directly to calls or emails. We cannot guarantee to respond to individual calls. Where possible, please coordinate all calls with ICT staff in your school to avoid duplication or contradiction.

Individual School Filtering Policies

Broadband Sandwell have begun a process of rolling out "Own School Policies" to supported schools. This will allow schools to tailor website blocking to their own needs. When adjusting what is and isn't blocked, you should always consider the e-safety implications, so advice and training is available to support schools from Broadband Sandwell or Sandwell e-Learning Service, call for details

Filtered Groups

Netsweeper groups websites by category, and our policies allow or deny websites according to their categorisation. This allows newly categorised sites to be more easily available or blocked depending upon the end user's needs. The policies in place generally block the following categories:

Substance Abuse

Web Chat

Criminal Skills


Hate Speech



Match Making





Safe Search

Search Keywords

Proxy Anonymizer



Network Unavailable

If you have encountered a blocked website, it will be likely to be listed under one of these categories.

If you think the categorisation is not correct, please call us to determine whether the site can be recategorised.

Headteachers: should your school wish to unblock one of these categories, please call Broadband Sandwell.



Sandwell Council Logo