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Blue Skies Thread, Computers for Pupils in General; I'm not sure if many people here will know about this yet (given the speed it usually takes for things ...
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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Computers for Pupils

    I'm not sure if many people here will know about this yet (given the speed it usually takes for things to filter down to the front line troops). But there's been some rumblings in Lancashire about it. So I was wondering what everyone elses views were on the scheme and how far along things are in the various LEAs?

    Background reading for the uninformed:

    http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.ph...p_02&rid=12760
    http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholesc...rs_for_pupils/

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    broc's Avatar
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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    Our LA have this under their wing. I believe the schools were reluctant to get involved in the actual delivery. At a school level we are merely involved in nominating the candidates who would benefit. We were however asked to comment upon a choice of suppliers & equipment but for commercial & confidential reasons I cannot divulge who they were as the procurement process is in progress right now.

    Equipment under consideration included portable devices and desktops. Suppliers were asked to include support package in their costings (home installation, online support, warranty etc) plus project management.

    Everything on offer was low-spec (some under spec), mainly Vista Home.

    Personally, I think the program is underfunded and seriously misguided. I think it will lead to all sorts of disputes & problems when people realise that some are getting kit for free & others aren't.

    We had a case this week where a parent of a student who left in 2005 wanted my school to fund a new A/C adapter for a free laptop they had received under a similar Govt backed scheme from a few years back.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    I haven't heard anything here so I'm guessing nothing is happening.

    However, I have heard from one of our suppliers that some parts of Merseyside are opting for thin clients for it. You bung an adsl line in, have a Sun global desktop server at the school/lea and voila - you have a managable machine which is pointless to steal or sell on.

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    limbo's Avatar
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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    We had a serious look at whether we could do something like this (I was not aware of this scheme until I read the post).

    It was a couple of years ago when people were first really seriously talking about a laptop for every student. We very quickly realised that it was not something worth pursuing at the time for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that the computer at home is not being totally taken advantage of until it is connected to the internet to get at the school extranet etc.

    There are also the complications of how to support the machines etc.

    We came around to the thinking that putting computers into the home was not the best way forward - instead we should fund the internet access into the home. There are a low more advantages to this:-

    - The maintenance of the internet connection is not an issue for the school to worry about - so no hidden costs.
    - The cut off is clean when the students leave the school - no worries about the transfer of licensing or ownership etc.
    - It will easily last the length of the students time at the school without the need for reinvestment.

    I appreciate that all this is no good unless there is a computer in the home, but we figured free internet access would be enough to encourage parents to think about going and buying a PC - and we would strike deals for them with one of our suppliers, including reasonable finance options to spread the cost for them so it was manageable - possibly as little as £2.50 a week for a PC over three years.

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    steve's Avatar
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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    I went to a meeting about this recently at our LA.

    We are trying to stay away from it as much as possible. Propossed that the LA does all procurement and the supplier supports the equipment and internet access.

    My school is entitled to funding for 111 pupils, so managing these in-house would be a nightmare.

    Choosing the pupils is the only thing we hope to be left with, even this will cause some major issues.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    I am hoping to do the same ... try to make it somebody else's problem but get the benefits of it.

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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    Our LA are looking into this also, the early rumbles are that they are looking to provide a thin client type machine in each of the homes that require one and run the internet connection wirelessly from three specific ares within the authority. It is intended that this will happen once the LA wide vle is in place so that they can access the applications without licensing issues.

    Not sure of the whole idea yet but sounds fairly good again as has already been mentioned, the question as to who will maintain and support such equipment is yet to be decided.

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    Re: Computers for Pupils

    We set up a scheme about a year ago asking the less fortunate people in our catchment area if they would like to purchase a computer for their children to help with their studies at home and about 60 families took us up on it.

    We used one of the BECTA aproved suppliers and they delivered said computers. Just found out last week that a number of the families have no withdrawn their direct debit which was i think £2.00 per week and are now not paying for them.

    ICT co-ordinator has now blown a gasket and asked me if i wouldn't mind if he supplies me with contact details to go out and collect them from these families (new task, Bailiff). Now we find that the LEA is going to do the same but for free huh (probably the reason why these families have stopped their direct debits). These computers will probably find their way to the nearest car boot fair. Just a waste of tax payers money if you think about it.

    Having looked further into this site and searched for acredited schools i could only find one secondary school and that was up t'north not far from us at Wellfield school Co Durham. Myself and ICT co-ordinator had a look at this a few months back filled in one or two fields and then forgot about it, from the response they have had (acredited schools) seems they are on to a winner (not).

    What does everyone else think of it really?

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    Apologies for bumping this thread up!

    Could anybody explain the responsibilites of the school regarding these laptops? At first, we had assumed that the school was to serve as a pickup-point only. Now we are being asked to re-image and diagnose faults!

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    You should read section 6 of this document.

    Teachernet, Document bank

    But basically, because the laptop (usually) is still owned by the school then yes. Depending on what your home school agreement says of course.

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    We never have supported ours, the LA purchased support with the laptops - as agreed by all the schools in advance.

    Since then though I know several schools that have pressurised the IT staff to support them, including imaging, 3G installs etc. Luckily for us our SMT have stayed firm and insisted that the LA arranges with the supplying company any support issues.

    We've also just had the first one returned as a pupil left. There's no advice out there what to do with it now re-issue, bin?

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    We've had a few returns too, the way its been dealt with is we reimage them, then just pass them out to the next on the list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve View Post
    We never have supported ours, the LA purchased support with the laptops - as agreed by all the schools in advance.

    Since then though I know several schools that have pressurised the IT staff to support them, including imaging, 3G installs etc. Luckily for us our SMT have stayed firm and insisted that the LA arranges with the supplying company any support issues.

    We've also just had the first one returned as a pupil left. There's no advice out there what to do with it now re-issue, bin?
    Was that XMA?

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    I think XMA have the contract for the whole country, though I could be wrong on that.
    In our case the council/LEA, in conjunction with the schools decided on who should receive each laptop (free school meals, postcode etc.) and were originally slated to distribute them and were given a sum of money, equivalent to 9.5K per school to do this. Local heads saw an opportunity to get their hands on some more money and decided that schools would be best placed to distribute the laptops. Naturally, being loosely IT related, responsibility was passed down the line to the techs. We didn't want anything to do with them but were given little choice in the matter. Over a period of 4 days, not concurrent, we showed parents what was on the laptops and signed them out.
    XMA provided an 0871 helpline number (national call rates) for people to call if there was a problem, and naturally most were reluctant to do this, preferring to bring them into school if there was a problem. We have been left to diagnose problems for XMA before sending them off for any repair. Sometimes this can take months.
    Internet connectivity is provided by O2. The dongles were supposed to arrive in September 2008, but were a couple of months late and had a very restricted white list. We had to go through the council to contact O2 to open certain sites. Some people are still having problems and we're now finding it difficult to get a reply from the council.
    Considering the work we've put in (3 techs, 1 admin and Head of ICT) we blew that 9.5K budget long ago.
    Finally, the parents and pupils were told that they could hang on to the laptop so long as there was a child at our school, and that they were to be returned as soon as all siblings had finished here. Privately we expected a minority to disappear. We have had one returned so far by a pupil moving on. We have a duplicated sheet, one copy of which goes into our files, and the other is given to the pupil for their records which acknowledges the laptop's return.
    It has been a painful experience being the buffer between parents and pupils on the one hand, and XMA/O2 on the other. While I fully support the initiative the way it has been handled on the ground leaves a lot to be desired.
    Last edited by beeswax; 7th July 2009 at 09:39 AM. Reason: spelling error

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    steve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICTSM View Post
    Was that XMA?
    Yep XMA

    We didn't get the 9.5K, that was left with the LA for the support.

    Despite being entitled to 111, we only ended up with 9! Of these 3 didn't collect them.

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