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Blue Skies Thread, Do we need an IT suite? in General; I work in a primary school with 350 pupils. We installed a dedicated IT suite with a computer for every ...
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    sjb
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    Do we need an IT suite?

    I work in a primary school with 350 pupils. We installed a dedicated IT suite with a computer for every child in a class 4 years ago. We are now reaching a point where the hardware needs to be replaced, and we also have issues with space in school due to increasing pupil numbers. The suite is not a well-used space - each class is timetabled to use it once a week and the rest of the time it is empty, but not really usable for any other purpose as we have fixed workstations. I have been asked to look into options for the future - including getting rid of the suite completely, scaling it down to a smaller size or refurbishing the room we currently have. On a limited budget...

    I would be grateful for any views - would it be a mistake to lose the suite? Are we moving towards a time when the suite will be redundant anyway due to advances in mobile devices? What options should we be considering?

    Thank you,

    Sue

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    We have an IT suite, it gets used just the same as yours but we also have 10 laptops in each class, the laptops in classes seem to get used more! and we have a dedicated IT teacher who just teaches IT!

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    maark's Avatar
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    If you need the space I would be tempted to look at tablets ipads or nexus.
    Perhaps you should look at it from the other side - what is the suite actually used for - what do they do with IT or would like to do?.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Surely the first question is: if you get rid of the IT suite and therefore move to mobile devices - is your wireless up to it? IMHO tablets are not that great for producing written reports etc. I would probably go with laptops but this means you have to think about length of life - laptops in a school don't last as long as desktops and there is the battery issue as well as damage to consider.
    Couldnt they use the IT suite more effectively? We are a junior school and each class has one timetabled session a week but there is a booking system and the other gaps are usually filled every week, also the IT suite is used for small group interventions, before-school maths sessions and lunchtime homework sessions.

    Replacing the suite on a limited budget (see ICT Direct) plus a better use of the suite would be my choice
    Last edited by witch; 17th April 2013 at 10:53 AM.

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    ICTDirect_Dave (17th April 2013)

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    bladedanny's Avatar
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    I work in two schools. One has an IT suite the other has two trollies of 16 laptops.

    Both are used a lot, but from my observations the laptops work better for classes as they go to the class rather than the class going to them which minimizes disruption due the class moving around.

    On the other hand the IT suite computers never run out of battery power and pretty much always have the latest software on deployed via group policy.

    If you want anymore info about the pro/cons of either school just give me a PM.

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    I would probably go with laptops but this means you have to think about length of life - laptops in a school don't last as long as desktops and there is the battery issue as well as damage to consider.
    We took the batteries out of the laptops in our IT Suite, I dont think the batteries have ever been used!

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    hallb15's Avatar
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    There isn't one simple answer to this question, and I suspect that ultimately your budget will be the deciding factor as to which way you go. @witch raises a good point that you must have a decent wireless infrastructure in place before considering any mobile devices - be it laptops or tablets.

    I've worked in lots of schools and they all have a different solution, based on their needs and how they use the ICT equipment available. In my current school we have over 700 pupils so have an ICT suite, a mini ICT suite, 3 laptop trolleys and a Fizzbook trolley. All are used regularly.

    If you want to ask any more specific questions, PM me and I'll try and help.

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    p858snake's Avatar
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    Have you engaged the staff to see why the room isn't being used to its full capacity?

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjb View Post
    On a limited budget...
    Sue, I think we might have just the solution for you... Give me a few minutes to upload a couple of thinks and I'll link you to a solution that should hopefully fit your requirements.

    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Replacing the suite on a limited budget (see ICT Direct)
    Sweeties are on their way

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    Here we go!

    http://www.ict-direct.co.uk/specs/of...aptopSuite.pdf

    This is the first in a number of 'PC Suite Solutions' (both portable & static) that we are going to be offering.

    Let me know if you need any more info.

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    lionsl2005's Avatar
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    We were similar to your situation before. fortunately Council expanding our school but still needed to Get rid of ICT Suite. But we fought to keep it. Every class time tables to use the suite 1day a week also ICT clubs, Lunch time club etc taken place. We have 4 laptop trolleys but the problem is our wireless. It cannot handle the laptops so they are not wisely used. Currently looking in to a wireless solution / Multipoint server. ok my best advise is to save the suite, may be ICT direct can help. if you going for laptops / notebooks you have to have a strong wireless infrastructure.

  13. Thanks to lionsl2005 from:

    ICTDirect_Dave (26th April 2013)

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    ICTDirect_Dave's Avatar
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    We can certainly help with hardware solutions that don't break the bank. We have a number of options for both desktops, and laptops. Let me know if you'd like more info!

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    Hello this is my first post on Edugeeks. I am an ICT technician in a large through primary school and also teach a bit.

    At my school we have been having the same conversations as SJB about our ICT suite. We have had ours for 10 or so years and have been through one update of PCs and these have now reached the end of their life and are due for another update.
    Our school has grown a lot due to taking bulge year groups and now have over 500 pupils. It became apparent that our ICT suite while very useful the school is now too large to allow timetabling of all the classes in the suite. This coupled with the changes to the ICT/Computing curriculum meant we have been expanding the numbers of laptops trolleys in our school. We purchased a set of 16 to be shared by our year 5/6 children so we could take them off the suite timetable altogether.

    Installing a managed wireless system two years ago has meant the use of the laptops in the classrooms has become easier and really helped the teachers embed computing and tech across the curriculum really successfully here.

    So we have taken the radical decision to change our ICT suite into one of two learning resource rooms in conjunction with our school library.

    We are planning to make two rooms with mixed media, laptops, tablets, desktops and books in each room, with one for foundation and KS1 and one for KS2.

    Our librarian and ICT coordinator have between them found hidden talents for planning and have drawn up plans to use existing furniture and split the books according to age. I will be taking my original budget to replace the suite desktops and get creative with getting some mobile devices (we really like the Learnpad tablets) and a couple of desktops for the Ks1 area.

    We are all quite excited about it and have planned to have it up and running for September. We have organised a focus for the teaching staff for September to use the rooms (yet to be properly named) and will be asking them to teach their humanities topics in there so the focus is on research skills using mixed media, so hopefully both rooms will get used. They will also be used for small group interventions as well.

    Our ICT suite already has a smart board and projector which will stay, we are planning to be able to still get 30 children in their and leaving this in place keeps it usefulness as a teaching base and a training are for staff and meetings.

    I hope to persuade SLT to budget next year for an interactive projector in the current library which means we can put up an write-on whiteboard for the time being which I can set up a portable projector for teachers to use in groups lessons in that room and then extend that next year to full interactivity if the requirement is there.

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    catshilllearning's Avatar
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    I would support the mixed economy approach with a combination of ICT suite and good wireless infrastructure and portable devices. Most of my schools use variants of this approach and they'd certainly miss their suites if they were taken away.

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    supawat1's Avatar
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    There is no IT suite at my school for a couple years now, because we have very limited space. I have to admit that I spent quite a lot of money on our infrastructure and now 70% of our devices are based on wireless.

    Also, mobile devices will help you get a better mark on OFSTED inspection compared to IT suite, this is according to the Head Teacher, she's also an OFSTED inspector.



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