It looks like the OP removed it, but investigating why.
It looks like the OP removed it, but investigating why.
If securing funding from BSF involves presenting a well-thought-out business case, would not the most sensible idea be for the ICT technicians at a given school to form their own company? It could all be sorted out with reciprocal agreements between the school and the new company as to use of school resources (office space, storage, use of school accountant, etc), but should be perfectly doable with some advice from someone who knows what they're talking about with this sort of thing. Then you get the best of both worlds - on-site support staff available all the time, who know the school, staff and pupils and are part of the school community, plus you get silly amounts of funding to spend on shiny new ICT equipment without the overhead of an external companies running costs (note: remember to adjust a bit for your own salary, of course!).
One of the key factors in any major procurement process is that it has to follow strict EU guidelines. Part of this is proof of sound financial backing.
The risk that the company may go under is not insignificant and this is how many small business get left behind on the major bids, or cannot even group together.
If you take Surrey County Council ... they formed a 'joint venture deal' with VT Group (in particular, the Education and Skills Dept of VT)
this then gives significant financial and private sector backing for a county to do things, as well as working with other authorities.
Northants CC sold off their education support team to Capita, although they are still treated as a separate arm to some extent.
If schools did wish to band together to form a company the major obstacles would be financial backing, legal support and experience, lack of significant experience of this body of work and we should not forget that this is before we even get through the bid process. A company bidding for a contract can reasonably expect to cough up serious amounts of money before being long listed, then more once they are shortlisted ... and then more between teh point of preferred bidder and financial closure. At this point the money *starts* to come in from the contracts ... and so you would be paying the salary of a large group of people before money even begins to come in ... and those people include consultants with educational experience, accountants, lawyers ... not exactly small wages.
I would reasonably expect a bill of £500k over an 18 month to 2 year period with out even earning any money ... and these are conservative estimates.
The way that the big companies save money is that they have already got experience of all of this process and can cut corners by using existing knowledge, existing contacts and existing paperwork. This, unfortunately, can lead to a cookie-cutter model of trying to fit new bids and contracts into models used elsewhere as a cost-saving exercise.
The companies that are getting to preferred bidder status are those that have sufficient enough wide experience that is allows them to adapt what they are doing best. This is still not ideal but that gives a bit more of an insight as to hwo they get the contracts.
Yes, you would need some sort of support at LEA level to pull such a thing off.
You can submit a business case for keeping the ICT Support in-house with the SLT and Head of ICT handling the funding and complying with the strick EU regulations with the procurement of ICT Equipment and infrastructure..
There are still schools out there that *do* need to have things changed around by someone other than the staff at the school, whether we are talking about technical staff, the teaching staff or the leadership.
Whilst the 'in-house' idea suits many of us ... we then get a group of schools being shafted because they are not being catered for.
Again, we come back to the LA taking more control ... and that has previously been met with derision when talked about outside of the BSF context ... why should it now be acceptable as an alternative to BSF? Is it the lesser of two evils?
There is still no evidence that we can opt out yet. I have asked the OP to get in touch and requested information through other channels. When I have it I will pass it on.
I know there are some good people there, with some useless ones and I don't think I would mind working for them, so long as there wasn't the beauracracy that is inherent in all LEAs.
Damn ... you *have* been to procurement meetings then?
To be honest ... as much as I hate the financial and legal aspect of procurement, it is also a necessary evil at the moment. You will have companies that screw you on exit clauses, you will have LA bods that move roles and cannot be held accountable and you will have changes of Govt agenda.
Sir Humprhey both relishes the beauraucracy but also fears the accountability of it all.
My take on opting out is if all the schools independently of the LEA , or together with the LEA ICT department approach an outside company that has the neccessary profile to form a venture company. If this is done in advance of BSF they could then bid for the ICT part of the contract. The trick there would be getting that company to agree with you that what you think is desirable from a contract can be fitted to their blueprint or business model of ICT service under BSF.
Not ideal but maybe a case of choosing you master.
Last edited by conehead; 17th March 2008 at 02:46 PM.
The original poster of the thread *did* remove the thread at the request of the school. Apparently the information in the post was not full and was not correct, so he removed it.
According to PfS, at the moment there is *no* school that has managed to opt out of the managed service setup without losing money (and I think that this is likely to mean that no school has dropped out of it at all, not when they are going to lose £1450 per head).
If a school was to do this then yes, it is likely to be at ministerial level that a decision is made, after everything else has broken down.
When it happens, no doubt it will be made very public and information will be forthcoming. The various agencies are aware that we are *very* interested in this story. If anyone knows of any change then let me know and I'll follow up when I can.
broc (18th March 2008)
Hi All sorry to open up this thread again but does anyone have a recollection of the school in question?
The only school that I am aware that has opted out is Tollbar. They have been a bit high profile about some stuff in the papers (Private Eye and Yorkshire Times) but as with all things, the journalistic version, the schools version, the LA version and the Govt version of things do not quite match up.
Steve Moss has written a response about it on his blog and no more info has come out.
To some extent this is not completely a good thing, as they are now removed from the system and cannot work to help improve it ...
Oh well ... no pleasing everyone I suppose.
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