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Schools complain about standardised BSF IT

Discussion in 'News' started by wagnerk, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator


    Schools complain about standardised BSF IT

    Camden School for Girls says its London borough's school building programme would have replaced its ICT with poorer facilities

    The school, which is in need of physical renovation, was told that if it didn't sign up, the Building Schools for the Future deal for the whole borough would be delayed, reports the Guardian.

    Anne Canning, the headteacher, said: "Without question we felt we had no choice. Partnerships for Schools (PfS, the government body overseeing BSF) would look for the next local authority, which was more attractive to market, we were told. The implication was, you can pull out, but if you do the whole of Camden will not proceed within this round."

    The school has invested heavily in ICT since 2000. When it was told it would have to outsource its ICT to a private company managing a network for schools across LB Camden, its management wanted to know what the benefit would be to the students.

    "We asked whether what we were going to get would be better than what we have now. The answer came back, and it was clearly worse: more expensive and more old-fashioned," said Penny Wild, chair of governors.

    Read the rest of the article here. IT in schools...

    My opinion, yes in some cases there are schools that have developed their IT systems quite well, better than in some private companies. However... There are quite a lot of schools where their IT dept aren't qualified or experienced enough or schools where they haven't invested enough money into IT. Should it be blanketed across all schools? To be honest I don't really know... As there are pro & cons to both sides of the story. What are your thoughts, especially thoses that work in education?

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    1. Gareth.Harle
      I work in a secondary school in South Yorkshire and we are in the early stages of BSF planning in our LA. In my view I agree with Ken about some schools having a great, well managed and supportive ICT system. I know that me and my team put everything into our systems to allow the pupils and staff to get the most out of them. However I also know, as Ken said, of schools which struggle to employ quality staff for whatever reason and because of this, ICT is a nightmare.

      I my opinion a school should have complete freedom to choose the type of system it desires. Funding should be allocated per pupil for ICT and the school should be able to either take that money and provide its own quality service or let the BSF programme spend it on their behalf with a contracted company. Schools should not be penalised or disadvantaged for wanting to provide their own service and using the BSF funding to better it.

      But those are just my thoughts. :rolleyes:
    2. Jiser
      My thoughts are about BSF and ICT.

      It does in a way make sense to 'blanket standardize' ICT across schools. However when it comes down to it, it doesn't for many schools.

      IMO it should be up to the individual schools whether they choose BSF for ICT.

      Becta stuff has already been bought it. Why not enforce ICT standards more rigorously across the board in schools with inspectors similar to the ofsted.

      You just remove the whole personalization of ICT teams in schools with outsourcing.
    3. MLP
      Definitely agree that many schools have developed their IT systems well, often better that some private companies. In places where it works, it works well. The IT staff are focused on providing the best technical solution possible, under fairly tight constraints, with very demanding users.

      Other schools, however, for whatever reason, may not have adequate IT facilities. My daughters school for example, have no dedicated support professional (A primary school), but have recently installed a new IT suite. They have a librarian who oversees bookings, and reports problems, and an outside company comes in whenever required. I'm guessing that they wait till there is a few issues, then call them in, but I don't actually know.

      The reason some schools have problems getting staff, or more specifically keeping them, is the lack of funding. My own experience is that I was employed with very little experience, on a reasonable(ish) wage for a beginner, two years ago. Many people would have taken the experience, and moved on by now. I've stayed put because working in a school is a great working environment, and having a young daughter, the work / life balance works well, at the moment. However, this wouldn't be the same for all people, and would move on.

      I agree, schools can have varying requirements, depending on their focus. For example, my school's an Arts college, so allot of our IT provision is focused upon that. The use of graphics packages, movie editing, music production, and so on. Our network is split approx. 40/60 Windows/Mac. A technology college on the other hand, may want to explore programming skills, or software logic, and require choose equipment and software to reflect that choice. One size does not fit all.

      That said, a school should be assessed to ensure that the solution that they provide works to an adequate standard. This normally occurs internally, but I think that having IT provision; support levels, purchasing decisions, teaching methods and forward planing and focus; needs to be assessed externally as well, maybe as part of Ofsted. There needs to be accountability. Under performing schools should be offered assistance, and then as a very last resort, taken over by LA experts (I use the term expert very loosely here).

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