The staff Virtual Private Network service provides a secure means by which staff can access school based systems and data from home using their own broadband service. Most levels of access staff may have when working in school can be replicated over the VPN service when they work remotely. The key features are:
- The service is part of HICS and as such there are no additional costs for using it although your ICT Support Provider might charge you for setting up and supporting this additional service.
- It is important to understand that neither HCC nor Updata can provide technical support for the school/home aspect of this service. If you do not have your own internal technical staff or external ICT Support Provider who has experience with VPN then this service is probably not for you.
- You may have as many accounts as you feel able to support. We reserve the right to remove any accounts that are not used during any school term. That will enable us to keep the service efficient and secure for those who do use it regularly.
- Our recommendation is that VPN accounts are only enabled on school owned laptops that staff have on long-term loan. We expressly do not recommend that VPN accounts be enabled on staff-owned personal equipment and we believe that to do so may cause your school to contravene Data Protection requirements. The reason for this is that the VPN service allows remote access to school held personal information some copies of which will inevitably end up on non-school equipment over which your school may have no control.
- We cannot guarantee that the VPN service will work in any particular location. It is also not possible to test a VPN account from inside the HICS network. Having said that users who have had a VPN account for several years find it a very stable and robust service.
Signing up for the staff VPN service
Our procedures might seem rather bureaucratic but the security of your school network and school data are involved here and so we need to take appropriate precautions. We think it is important that Headteachers are aware that VPN access into school systems is being implemented and so we ask that the original application come from them but they can then nominate someone to whom school responsibility for the VPN is delegated.
First your Headteacher should apply for the service for your school and nominate a contact member of staff. There is a form for that here: Staff-VPN-Application Please return the form by FAX if possible.
The Service Desk will then liaise with Updata to set up the service for your school and to create an account for your named contact. That’s usually complete within a couple of days. Your named contact will be sent a small .pcf file (unique to your school but needed by all account holders) and login details for his/her account.
You will also need the appropriate CISCO VPN client which is available for download from here: http://www.intra.thegrid.org.uk/eservices/technical/vpn_clients.shtml
(We have put them on the HGfL Intranet because CISCO don’t like them to be published in the public domain.)
Once this initial account is set up and and working your named contact can request additional accounts from the Service Desk. All subsequent contact with the Service Desk about this service should be conducted through your school’s named contact.
If you need to change your named contact there’s a form for that too: vpn_change_contact