By the tone of most of your posts and ideas towards BSF, I'd guess you're in upper management
be my guest, so long as you keep it cleanOriginally Posted by bossman
By the tone of most of your posts and ideas towards BSF, I'd guess you're in upper management
Doubt it as it seems by his posts that he doesn't know what he's talking about .. and anyone that advocates destroying the ICT Community within a school is a fool...Originally Posted by webman
I'm definitely not in upper management - i still have to get my hands dirty.Originally Posted by webman
I just like to see everything from all sides. I'm aware of the shortcomings of the LA - I've been frustrated with their slowness in responding to requests, i know they don't have anywhere near approriate helpdesk and call center facilities.
But I'm impressed with how they're willing to think BIG. Big IT projects are notoriously difficult to impement and sure they fall short and sometimes they don't listen but there projects do add value - some more noticeable than others.
I see the frustration of the network manager in schools who can do without the interference and being dictated to. But Grommit mentioned the badly performing ICT departments and for those BSF gets them out of a whole - and if they're not up to the job then they're maybe not in the right sector. The people on these boards, even Grommit, don't fall into that category and they deserve the option to opt out or plough their own furrow - because all that matters is that things just work.
Now it appears that the return of RM and the financial transparity (or lack of) adds to the hostility toward the managed IT path. And I agree, and obviously the service provider will be driven largely by profit - but the way some service providers go about implementing projects does impress me. I'm quite envious of how they can plan and design and they're use of enteprise kit - for many primaries and schools without that ICT investment they're solutions can't be much worse than what the schools have to put up with at the moment.
torledo, you use Birmingham as a prime example of how outsourcing is good. Fair enough, Birmingham is the largest council in the country and has formed a private jointly owned business with Capita to handle its IT Support. It has also outsourced www hosting & email, VLE, firewall, etc taking these things out of the schools responsibilities. However, and i know as i'm an information systems manager at a school in Birmingham, they do not mind schools internally hosting their own website, VLE, email, etc. Here most schools employ their own NMs / SMs etc. Lets hope every LA uses your example of Birmingham as a role model. We are still yet to see how Birmingham will be effected by BSF, but their company will retain some services.Originally Posted by torledo
Aha?Originally Posted by Grommit
Tankyou Lee.Originally Posted by Lee_K_81
Yes Birmingham and Rochdale I've used because they seem to have gone down the route of having, for want of a better word, Cisco powered networks so that the infrastructure is good enough that they are able to host these services.
I read about the joint venture with Capita - that has been a recent deal but before these deals the good LA's have been honig the art of providing hosted services for years. Some services they provide better than others I'm sure you'll agree. Quality of authority wide MLE's is very variable.
I suppose in Birmingham the BSF managed service provider will ease the burden on the authority's ICT department becuase they will no longer need to provide support in primaries and smaller schools - the BSF service provider is the first port of call. Obviously the provision of the WAN won't be the remit of the BSF ICT provider thereby not stepping on the toes of the authority ICT planners. But that's where they liaise - if it's an issue with the hosted email service the BSF provider will liase with authority's mail admins to resolve the issues.
My point was that Birmingham, despite having outsourced a lot of things, still (currently atleast) sees the need for roles such as IT Managers / NM / SM. I wasnt actually defending you as i disagree with quite a lot of what you have said in this thread. I was merely pointing out that the examples of outsourcing you have given dont necessarily mean that we're all out of work.
I can't speak for Birmingham but the only thing I know of outsourced in Rochdale so far has been the EDIT team (they manage SIMS for schools). A lot of the primary schools are moving away from the flat network and services provided, at the moment, by the LA, and by implication a managed services company.Originally Posted by torledo
Understood. But BSF is a very different model, effectively taking over managing the ICT within the LAN of each school where the authorities typically haven't encroached. While the authorities have taken responsibility for providing a number of services for schools - they were never able to provide the level of support for the schools within their own LAN. But there have been a lot of examples where schools have gone with 3rd party providers for things like their fibre cabling and switching infrastructure OR going with RM CC3 networks vs vanilla Windows 2003 AD networks - each school doing it independently with varying degrees of succes - what's wrong with a standardized approach across an authority. Do Birmingham not standardize on Cisco within their council departments or standardize on particular group messaging software - even though departments have differing requirements ?Originally Posted by Lee_K_81
BSF service provider will standardize on a certain brand of servers, switches, software. You might call it a one size fits all - but for example Dell or Cisco have enough variety in their products to ensure companies with different requirements get what they need. Surely school managers are fed up with poorly designed infrastructures they've inherited.
Sure schools have different mix of pupils and teachers - but they're all trying to reach the same targets following the same curriculum. They all need whiteboards and electronic registration Surely their IT requirements don't differ that wildly.
I have to post ... just to prove I am not Torledo.
There are lots of things wrong with managed services and lots of things right.
The good things include ensuring that there is always a good standard of facilities and resources that will benefit the T&L that goes on in a school, and be geared to that rather than gimmicks that force change in the classroom for the sake of technology.
The bad things include that there can be arigid structure that does not allow for flexibility in schools as they have to adapt to new curriculum needs as technologies become available.
This is not me speaking ... but 2 people I met last week talking about managed services ... talking about a particular implementation in a particular school. 2 people talking about the same thing ... both respected educational technologists who have done teaching, IT support and management, and consultancy (not in that order!)
For some people it works ... for others it doesn't.
The important thing is making sure schools know what they are letting themselves in for and maybe coming up with methods of damage limitiation or learning to bend the rules to get what you need.
This is not so. Especially with a lot of schools having specialisms and links with the community.Originally Posted by torldeo
I don't think you would get too many arguments against the idea that wall-to-wall Cisco kit with enterprise class servers were the norm in schools, as long as it was not at the expense of being able to provide the levels of support schools need.
I think most of the passionate arguments against BSF from the school-based ICT support community stem from the feelings that schools will end up paying more and getting less. Some of this undoubtedly comes from people feeling their careers are under threat but a lot of it comes from having experience of what life is like in schools, and what support students and staff in schools need to function. We don't believe the numbers stack up and we don't believe that the people pulling the strings have a clue about how school ICT works. It is not like commercial ICT; I know this having worked in a commercial environment for 30 years for a large Global ICT company.
I would love to have a comms room full of Cisco networking kit and a server room full of Dell, Sun, IBM or HP servers but it will not fix the problem in the classroom down the corridor where the teacher cannot deliver the lesson they had planned because some piece of technology has let them down. Staff need an immediate response to this; logging it via a helpdesk for resolution sometime later today will not do.
Unfortunately all the emphasis on BF & managed services is about the 'gloss', very little is said about support.
At my school the 'experts' employed by the LA & P4S are impressing my SMT by saying we won't need ICT rooms; every student will get a personal computing device. They skip over the issues like where they will be stored during PE, or at lunch time, or what will happen when the batteries go flat. They ignore the fact that we would more than double the number of computers in school, they side-step the questions about how many support staff will the school have onsite to support > 1000 devices?
They have their agenda, it is not ours.
We all know the blurb about the good points of standardisation, and that in theory by purchasing one make in large quantities the BSF winner will be able to get rock bottom prices, but they will be a PLC and required by law to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders. If i can buy a dell PC for £350 (say) and the BSF provider can buy in bulk for £200, you think the school will be charged £200 or even £250? I wouldnt be suprised if they got charged as much as £340. Hey aint that great we saved a massive £10 because of BSF. Now dont get me wrong, i'm all for involving businesses and creating partnerships with businesses, but i like having a choice. I like being able to get the best deal possible and play HP off against Dell, or one supplier off against another to make my tiny budget go further. Standardisation can be a good thing, but what about all the investment that has already been plowed into schools, i'd be really annoyed if we were told we HAD to have RM machines or Dell Machines and all the HP Thin Clients, desktops and servers we've bought are going to be disposed of.
For all the advantages BSF and a managed ICT service brings there are just as many disadvantages. No more "can you just do [insert something outside of JD]", the response will be "contact [insert bid winner] and they'll give you a price on how much that will be. They should be back to you within 2 weeks". Schools dont run like businesses, they have a 60minute slot to teach a pupil, they have a problem they wont accept "well just log it and we'll get round to it in a week". They want somebody over straight away to either solve it or try and do something.
Fair point ... once you have designed an architecture then you can pretty much put into it whatever fits the bill.Originally Posted by torledo
And this is where we get to the sticky bit.Sure schools have different mix of pupils and teachers - but they're all trying to reach the same targets following the same curriculum. They all need whiteboards and electronic registration Surely their IT requirements don't differ that wildly.
The archiecture (ie system design .. not the design of the glass dome on the roof) is not standard. Specialisms have already been pointed out but it goes further than that. It goes down to the ethos of the school and their approach to T&L.
Take school A. They have been building an online curriculum to facilitate independent learning, where students have control of the pace of learning and the teachers are subject specialists helping them to understand key concepts before the student get on with embedding the skills.
The take school B, who have a more direct approach, using some of the more traditional classroom techniques but incorporating IT to deliver resources and involve students.
The first requires an online workspace that has whiteboard and resource sharing tools, the second requires decent classroom sizes with IWBs for student interaction.
And that is a simple example without even straying into the dependency on which exam board or award you do ... or the politics behind being involved in project X which requires you to use a different approach to other schools!
Without this flexibility we lose innovation.
For me, that is the big fight ... the fact that I also believe that some of the best people for understanding what works and what is a waste of time that has been tried too many times before are us lot and other Support Teams ... that is yet another point.
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