Beam me up Scotty......
Right at this minute we have BSF ICT 'experts' from one of the potential bidders in my school meeting our SMT. I have been told I am not required to attend the meeting unless it gets too technical. I think it's because they are afraid I will pick too many holes in their proposals
Last edited by broc; 5th March 2008 at 04:09 PM.
I wish they'd beam the whole of BSF up into some god forsaken universe where they forever have to fight stubborn Klingons around Uranus......
I have had a few battles with so called experts since the very start of BSF. Having worked in ICT almost as long as Babbage I have seen it all before...
One of the things they asked for at ridiculously short notice was a full inventory of all our hardware and software to be emailed to them at the end of last week so that they could have a more meaningful meeting with SMT.
Now, without being rude to our leadership team, I doubt they would appreciate the finer points of layer 2/3 switches, fibre backbones, laptop & desktop specs or the 1001 different application packages that seem to be installed everywhere so I thought the least I could do was bring along the audit report to the meeting & help them review it.
Shame I wasn't invited to attend .....
i know i'd feel well put out if so-called experts were called in to redesign what i would consider my backyard. I've already spent the last few years redressing the propensity for SMT to get outside contractors to do most projects and even straightforward tasks that should be the domain of in-house IT....if there were a risk of going back to my role being a spare part, i'd look to move on.
I will be posting up the following in the morning but thought I would get comments from here first.
People who know me understand that I sit on the fence about BSF as I can see that many schools will benefit from raising the baseline of IT facilities.
However, it is not all roses... far from it, and to talk about BSF and innovation in the same sentence is seriously misleading.
Fact one - Each BSF contract is different. The possible template used as part of the business plan is flawed as pretty much all LAs don't use it as a template, but stick to it rigidly to ensure that it goes through all the red tape. This means that Local Authorities give up their flexibility at this point.
Fact two - Each contract is the result of prolonged stages of negotiation. However, to make a difference you have to be in from the start and individual schools often get involved too late to make a difference to what provision they get as part of the contract. This means that any innovative work that the school wants to do will be stifled as it does not meet the standard build ... and doing things outside of the standard build will incur additional costs and any proposed cost savings due to group procurement and delivery are likely to disappear, if not actually cost more in the long run.
Fact three - the staff in schools who are liable to be innovative are likely to be gone, reduced in stature and/or with no ability to make significant impact on how IT impacts what goes on in the classroom. How IT will be used really needs to be decided by each individual school, and working with the existing support staff is likely to be key to this. Having a standard build that is not a raised baseline, but a limiting bar will reduce the efficiency of support as the change process will slow innovation. "Can I try this piece of new software?" Sorry ... you will have to call the central helpdesk and request the change ... it will take about 2 days to get an answer!
Fact four - there is no guarantee that the staff will be employed by the school, by the Local Authority or that there will still be the same number of staff supporting IT. In all likelihood existing staff will be TUPEd across, moved around and some will go. On one side, those with the right skills *will* rise to the top, get promotions to team leaders, have better training and more opportunities, but these sort of places are limited and will also take the real experts and innovators out of the schools ... and so we lose more chances to innovate. Instead we will end up with support technicians who just unbox hardware, plug it in, run a basic install script that does it all for them and then go off to change a toner. No input into the long term planning of IT at the school, not involved with the implementation of any policies or procedures, and likely to be seriously de-skilled.
No ... BSF and innovation are difficult to shoe horn into the same sentence in a positive manner and only time will tell how it works out.
I will still sit on the fence as I am optimistic about some aspects of it (BSF) and will do what I can to ensure that support staff in schools have their chance to make a difference, but the realists out there know that we need to see the successes and mistakes from the first few waves before it will be fixed, by which point hundreds of professionals will have left schools to work in the private sector and skills will be lost from schools.
Last edited by GrumbleDook; 6th March 2008 at 11:41 AM. Reason: typos fixed - thanks Beeswax :-)
broc (6th March 2008)
Sounds good Tony.
I disagree about the need to sit on the fence- I think recent reports about the negative effects of BSF and the results of that initiative on this very forum can be seen by all. I really can't find it in me to see what good "educational" difference BSF makes to schools that other investments wouldn't- without the need to interfere with in-house ICT support structures, staffing, or individual flexibility and innovation within the school. But that's just my opinion.
Other than that, like I said, sounds good!
It's a pedants point I'll agree but it's points like this that will get our "facts" smacked down so we need to be clear.
In large part I'd agree however as DB has noted in other discussion the winners in this are the schools where ICT support and expertise is null and void or the budget has been kidnapped for other things. Overall though my gut is telling me the BSF is a badly thought out idea that is bringing out the worst in management and the politicians.I really can't find it in me to see what good "educational" difference BSF makes to schools that other investments wouldn't- without the need to interfere with in-house ICT support structures, staffing, or individual flexibility and innovation within the school. But that's just my opinion.
Other than that, like I said, sounds good!
Management see the carrot of a new school with managed services but don't have the luxury or foresight to see the cons to the new arrangement.
I'd also tend to agree with DB that the only way this will ever be resolved is by getting in early on the discussion and working with all sides to ensure that the correct resources and SLA's are in place. Sure it's probably akin to working with the enemy but the thing is that in the most part the people on here are employed to keep ICT alive and working in their school so you could argue that this involvement is part of the job description, even if it means you get a bullet at the end.
Ultimately though I'm just one more person in the trenches, albeit at a distance, and see little real benefit in the long term.. Just more woolly thinking from westminster idiots who don't have a clue in the real world as they've proven time and again by refusing to leave education alone to work.
i'm not sure that starting a website knocking bsf will work, i think we need to take a more personal approach, after all we all know the head teacher of our particular school(s).
have a look at my thread about letters to give to SMT, and add your thoughts/input, i can give this to my head, governors, i can also distribute this through internal mail to other schools/governors, so maybe we can do something from within, rather than outside.
the other way is to join a union, and arrange for a strike, that might get on TV etc, and if we take the angle- education being sold- it might start something ??
The only thing with strikes is that the unions aren't interested for reasons I have pointed out before. And media support can easily be twisted into "Look at those nerds ... they are trying to stop the government from building new schools just so they can protect their jobs" ... which is line that one journalist told me was sat on file waiting to be used.
Keeping your Head informed and armed with good ideas and practices is the best starting point, but we can see from what is happening in Hackney, that still isn't enough.
I would still be interested in hearing from Newcastle members as the LA has taken the ICT out of the proposal as they are running it within the LA. How do people feel about that?
How about you all write down your roles and jobs spec here, including every aspect of IT and other tasks which you do almost daily within the school?
These would be here for reference once schools complain that they managed service no longer does A B and C.
These would also prove as a good point for future BSF IT support contracts to be based upon. And if the press wish to use us as a whipping horse then at least we have an easily accessed body of evidence to fall back on.
We need to stick to the concise points about the huge cracks in BSF - that the school will loose it's ability to innovate, that support will be inadepquete for the needs of education, the inherant problems of middleware and outsourcing. Arguments need to be given attention without it decending into the "I'm going to become a mouse-technician"-argument.
This ISN'T about our jobs - it's about the future generations, about the innovations in education, being - quite possibly - serverly disadvantaged by BSF. Forget about our jobs, we'll go work in industry, fine, lets worry about T&L going to the dogs.
If we harp on about our jobs - then that argument that's waiting in the wings wins. We need to make it clear this is nothing to do with us stopping the Gov. building new schools, that's a brilliant idea to me - the issue is why, as a part of that, it's necessary to rip out good IT systems, and replace it with baseline models. As I've said before, yes, the sub-standard schools DO need something doing about the state of their ICT, but why are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater? There are much better alternative solutions - that would probably be easier to implement - but it doesn't benefit big business... oh... I see...
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