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BSF Thread, Kent BSF Wave 3: 11 schools and Northgate in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; We had a visit from RM yesterday and they were astonished not to get the BSF deal in Kent. Now ...
  1. #31

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    We had a visit from RM yesterday and they were astonished not to get the BSF deal in Kent. Now I've read this thread I have the feeling that Northgate are now going to look and learn what schools really need and then probably re-invent the same wheel and end up with what RM do already! Where's the product?

    The remote centralised control aspect is interesting and I believe is used down in the SW (Exeter area?) already, but at the moment I am a fan of in-school high calibre ICT support staff helping each school do things the way it feels is best as quickly as possible. I'm not sure SLTs will want to be dictated to about what ICT they get, but are they prepared to pay for local high quality ICT help?

    I don't know, I just feel that the decision may have been based on cost and a glossy brochure - why else spend more than a year designing the systems? Why do I feel this is based on good words rather than good product? Sorry, going down with a cold and feeling grumpy.... and I'm not even involved in the BSF 'thing', just have an opinion.

  2. #32
    contink's Avatar
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    This thread is something of a breath of fresh air as it's more about pragmatic "this is happening" rather than the "run for the hills, this could happen".

    In some ways I'm heartened by the "we're developing our system" approach rather than one of "this is what you're getting... tough" system that might have been.

    Could it be that they're actually looking at best practice across all the schools and using this as a way to find what's working, what could be done better and actually improve on things across the board? Perhaps it's the idealist in me but if that's what happens, surely that has to be a good thing...

    But hey, now I'm surmising possible results... it'll be interesting reading nonetheless.

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    In some ways I'm heartened by the "we're developing our system" approach rather than one of "this is what you're getting... tough" system that might have been.
    OK, but aren't all suppliers developing their systems, even the big ones? And I would have thought it'd be better to buy from an experienced company off-the-shelf, rather than from one that is still scratching its head. I'd rather buy a sorted car from Ford than an unknown car from Joe Bloggs who is still working out what works ok, but has quoted me a low price. But maybe I'm just old, boring and prudent. Still, the deal's done so let's see what happens (in 2009). Interesting times ahead!

    I've no axe to grind either way, but I do like to see good decisions made (but perhaps I'm in the wrong business for that!).

  4. #34
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    contink - The issue has never really been what the initial install is. As a system, the winning BSF contractor, Northgate, RM, or whomever, it will probably do it's job of providing ICT to the school.

    The issue with BSF is down to 2 things - 1) support - unless Northgate are going to put a suitable knowledgeable technician in every school, with the rights to make necessary network changes in a timely fashion, support will not be adequete for a school environment, where response time is critical. 2) innovation - to allow Northgate to make their money, they can only develop and provide one system, this breaks the ability of individual schools to innovate using ICT resources.

    It doesn't matter if you've got the best system in the world, if you haven't got people to make it fit your particular needs, and to fix it's niggling problems in a reasonable time-frame, all the sparkle and features in the world are worth jack.

    It's not a case of "run for the hills, this could happen". It's simply looking at the stark facts. Is ICT BSF ***really*** going to do a complete 180 on everything outsourcing has been since it's original inception?

    "to find what's working, what could be done better and actually improve on things across the board" - Yes, and this is exactly what they are/should be doing. This will be true in most cases - the issue is that, 1) they can't provide a system better than the best school to all schools, cost/profit again. 2) a large portion of the success of ICT in schools is having onsite support/training.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deaks View Post
    Shock and horror! The guys from Northgate do NOT have horns and pitch-forks! lol!

    Ok, just gotten out of a two-hour session with reps from LST (the consortium with the whole BSF contract), Northgate, KCC and those of us TUPEing. There was also the head of IT and the schools business manager.

    There were presentations from and about LST and Northgate, then an open Q&A session for anything we wanted to ask. The situation is that although Northgate will be paying our wages from the middle of June, nothing much will change for the next year. Their system won't be ready until March '09 so for now we will continue to run our own network, supported by RM, and doing whatever we want.

    At this stage they are as much fact-finding as we are. They need to learn about us and our network so they can keep continuety of service until the BSF changes happen later. What those changes will be it's too early to tell as they're still deciding if they'll have a base of operations in Kent, or where it will be, what people they have access to in the school already and who'll be willing to roam more if that's what's needed.

    Generally there were lots of assurances that nothing will be forced upon anyone, but on the other hard there will be oportunities to change what you do and where you do it if that's what you want. They were keen to assure us of the protection afforded us by TUPE and that there was no intention to harmonise us with Northgate T&Cs as there's no such thing, they have basically moved into so many public sector areas and TUPEd so many people that no two contracts are the same.

    I still have my reservations about BSF in principle but I do have to say that from what I've seen so far they are trying to do it all as painlessly and openly as possible.
    You are very very lucky to have Northgate.. as I heard they are keeping the old networks untill next year.... and then will slowly take over from then...

    So you have time to adjust and work with them..

  6. #36
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    Just a quick update on what's happening here in Kent...... nothing!

    We have heard nothing from Northgate since the meeting in March and are now just six weeks or so away from TUPEing. I have asked through our SMT what's happening and they are chasing things from their end, but as far as I know they havn't heard from them either.

    If you're in one of the 11 affected schools and know anything since the March meetings please post here or mail me direct to d.deakin@dsl.pipex.com

    Everything sent personally to me will be treated in strictest confidence.

  7. #37

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    I was told recently that the BSF work in at least some of your waves schools has stopped, quite what stopped means is anyones guess of course..

  8. #38
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    Treat this as rumour for now, but I was told this today:

    LST and KCC are 'not talking' at the moment. The whole wave could easily be in serious danger of being put back a phase if something doesn't happen soon. As a result of these emergency meetings, Northagte and any communcation with them and LST (apart from site surveys) are unathourized. Safe to say we're unlikley to be tuped in June!

    There was a big meeting between Paul Carter and the CEO of LST to try a resolve this and that was 2 weeks ago! No one has heard a sausage since. I know that KCC have come up with a strategy for dropping the LST/Northgate consortium.

  9. #39
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    Just had a meeting with our outgoing-head and his official line is that yes there haven't been any meetings for six-to-eight weeks regarding the work that was due to start this summer in our school, but it's just because KCC are making sure they get everything exactly right and meetings will start again after half-term, with contracts signed in August. We'll then Tupe and the building work will begin.

    I phoned the KCC BSF office yesterday and they told me that the hold-up was due to making sure the contracts met EU regulations and they could not say what the new schedule would be.

    I can't see why either of these answers would prevent good-faith meetings to continue with designers, contractors, Northgate etc.. unless something more serious was going on. Neither our head, or the KCC BSF office denied that the preferred bidder was about to be dropped and just repeated what they had said about on-going talks and negotiations, almost like they were working to a script.

  10. #40

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    They probably are ... if negotiations go bad in things like this the people involved have to stick to a set party line otherwise the lawyers have a field day!

  11. #41
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    Not much of an update but the official line is that here in Kent BSF meetings will begin again after half-term and we'll be tuped in August/September now, instead of June.

    There are rumours about ongoing fraud investigations into the preffered bidder and/or some of their building contractors. It's also been suggested that the threat to drop them as preffered bidder was just a bargaining ploy.

    We really won't know more until after half-term, when and if the meetings with schools start up again.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deaks View Post
    There are rumours about ongoing fraud investigations into the preffered bidder and/or some of their building contractors. It's also been suggested that the threat to drop them as preffered bidder was just a bargaining ploy.
    .

    Sounds like some bitter losing Tenderer has logged a complaint.... read first post at top of page

  13. #43
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    Just had a brief chat with our outgoing-head (was passing him a copy of the letters page from Computing) and he said there's a group meeting with Northgate being scheduled for the first couple of weeks of June at a school in Thanet.

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    Are all of these UK companies?

  15. #45
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    Location still to be confirmed but the dates of the next Northgate meetings are 11th and 12th of June.

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