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BSF Thread, Bye bye BSF?? in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Originally Posted by GrumbleDook How would you propose that schools that need new building actually get them? Same way they ...
  1. #31

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    How would you propose that schools that need new building actually get them?
    Same way they got them in the past - the LEA looks at the demands of their schools and builds things. They could do this if the money being wasted in BSF was given directly to them.

    And schools do need new building or refurbishments.

    [edit]

    I'll expand on this a little.

    A new building is not a magic wand. It removes one of the largest barriers to change in a school, environment. If you cannot change the environment what would you change instead?
    Oh I agree! We need a new building in our school. But the cost of this would be far more damaging to the school than simply making do with what we've got.

  2. #32

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Same way they got them in the past - the LEA looks at the demands of their schools and builds things. They could do this if the money being wasted in BSF was given directly to them.

    Oh I agree! We need a new building in our school. But the cost of this would be far more damaging to the school than simply making do with what we've got.
    The LAs are using companies already under PFI ... that will still continue if LAs are left to their own devices and they have no-one that they are answerable to ... and are unlikely to share information and experiences with other LAs too.

    Too many LAs have not kept their eye on things and have allowed too many extremes to occur in their schools ... hence why there is a central project called BSF. You can see why the Govt has *had* to take some action with a good number of LAs ... and the schools that have had to ditch sections of things that involve working with LAs are now being dragged back into the fold, in some cases with disastrous results. But who sets the criteria over what is a good school and a bad school. Not the school themselves ... the LAs have a certain amount of say in it but it is Govt inspectors that decide.

    The Govt doesn't trust the LAs anymore. Personally I struggle to and I work closely with one. (this will make for an interesting conversation when I am back at the office!) By introducing levels of accountability and putting frameworks in place it was designed to reduce that cockups.

    All building works have cockups. Most schools would not have a project manager on site that is capable of handling a school rebuild. Even if they did it would take them away from their day job or you would have to fork out for one to be employed ... relying on the schools choice has not always worked. If you centralise the work then you save money at the expense of some generalisations ... the larger the build projects the more generalisation are needed to make things run efficiently. That leads to a number of downsides ... including a one size fits all. At that point working closely with the school is vital.

    The Govt wants to make sure that the LA does not employ a cowboy to run it all ... they set out the framework and criteria (it is govt funding remember) as they have to justify it in various committees ... if nothing else they have to get the propaganda from it so it can be used for winning votes. They have to make sure it works or that they can have someone to blame (remember folks ... forget incident management, problem management or change management ... the most important thing for politics is blame management!)

    Again ... can someone tell me (and the Govt) the best way to centrally devolve billions of pounds to allow schools to be rebuilt whilst ensuring that there is accountability and a structure of sharing of knowledge to ensure schools get the best deal?

    @localzuk

    I am not saying that a move to a managed service would work for my place ... but the loss of flexibility compared to the gains elsewhere ... it is a no brainer. As much as the Head and the Chair of governors are so pro-IT it is unbelievable ... the building will be the biggest driver of change at our place. At that point I would be moving to another school anyway as most things I want to do at teh school will already have been done before it all comes in ... I would not be working for the service provider ... they would not want me as I am too high up the chain to fit in or manage and have a vastly different agenda.

  3. #33
    Diello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    I could honestly rant all day about how this will screw up more schools than having IT Managed services ... schools that need the rebuild above all else ...

    But what's the point. I would only be accused of wanting BSF at the expense if IT in schools.
    They needed to keep it simple – Problem: School building falling down – Solution: Nice new, purpose-built, buildings – Now, how to do that, hopefully with a percentage of private funding, without giving a commercial company control of what actually goes on within the school.

    The Government screwed it up - At the point it stopped being about putting schools into decent accommodation, and became about whatever the Gov could shove into it (ICT), and big business making money.

    BSF should exist - it's original purpose is great - Rebuild schools. However, IT should NEVER have been a part of BSF - the only time the twain should have met was in the builders asking us where they should put the cabling ducts.

  4. #34
    Diello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Again ... can someone tell me (and the Govt) the best way to centrally devolve billions of pounds to allow schools to be rebuilt whilst ensuring that there is accountability and a structure of sharing of knowledge to ensure schools get the best deal?
    Agree with everything you said to a large extent there.

    To me the answer has always been simple - BSF without outsourcing.

    Building a new school does not mean outsourcing it's ICT. Shouldn't have anything to do with BSF.

    Building a new school does not mean outsourcing changing a lightbulb. Shouldn't have anything to do with BSF. (our Bursar told me that one from a Bursars session on BSF she went too...!)

    BSF should be about a Gov led programme, using PFI money, rebuilding the school buildings to purpose built accommodation, in direct communication with all the stakeholders WITHIN EACH school to get them what they need. This build can then be externally project managed until completion. At which point private business butts out. Good practice of this can then be shared around the country. Then call the school Local Highschool by Jacksons Builders if you want, investigate other ways to appease the private partners for their cash injection, without giving those private companies ANY control on what happen inside a school. Leave the ICT, changing lightbulbs, to those within the school. General maintenance and ICT has NOTHING to do with rebuilding a school building.

    BSF stopped being about building a school a long time ago.
    Last edited by Diello; 10th April 2008 at 10:00 PM.

  5. #35

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diello View Post
    Leave the ICT, changing lightbulbs, to those within the school. General maintenance and ICT has NOTHING to do with rebuilding a school building.
    This presumes that a school has got someone that knows what they are doing and that this is true at *all* levels within the school. Having a fantastic bunch of techies in a school is useless if that are treated as scum and given no authority to make decisions, likewise we have all heard examples on here about waste of space NMs stopping eager, enthusiastic ans knowledgeable techies from getting on with the job ... and layabout techies that can't be bothered to do anything.

    And don't get me started on caretakers / site staff. Some of the conversations me old fella (lord rest him), a former caretaker, and I used to have about the waste of space people in some schools was unbelievable. There were times he wanted to come out of retirement to sort out a few schools local to him ... but other schools we both knew were full of cracking staff.

    Again ... this accountability thing. As much as we knock BSF for being short-sighted, a waste of funding, stifling innovation, etc ... I have yet to hear a proper mechanism that can be put in place to show accountability for IT spending and implementation in schools. If someone could put that down on paper then we have something to hold up in the air and say "We have a better idea!"

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    Diello's Avatar
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    Again - all completely true points that I agree with wholeheartedly.

    However, I stand by my original point - BSF should have been about rebuilding school buildings - all the other items you mention should have been dealt with separately. By trying to cram all the (perceived) problems with schools into one "super" solution like they did with BSF, it makes the whole thing an unworkable nightmare where they have to basically privatise all schools.

    I have yet to hear a proper mechanism that can be put in place to show accountability for IT spending and implementation in schools. If someone could put that down on paper then we have something to hold up in the air and say "We have a better idea!"
    I think plenty have been come up with in other threads. Grommit's LA idea, or mine of putting schools ICT under the same system as OFSTED for teaching, FMIS for Bursars, etc. Schools run their own then are audited by external experts to make sure that a proper, appropriate service is being provided, without dictating exactly how it's done, and what is done. Those ideas wouldn't be liked by the Gov though because it doesn't pander to it's agenda, which has nothing to do with what's best for the school.
    Last edited by Diello; 10th April 2008 at 10:27 PM.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Did you know a Skoda cost around £7 000 yet the cake cost £500 000 to make and they couldn't eat it because it had gone off because of the lights and heat..

  8. #38
    cookie_monster's Avatar
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    I know little about BSF but i'd like to know this. If a school is being rebuilt can any company tender to install the IT infrastructure or are the government looking to just hand loads of money to large companies. In this case a central group could put out the requirements for the infrastructure and companies could tender for the contract, depending on how the school want to progress this wouldn't necessarily mean a private company managing the schools IT at the end.

  9. #39

    broc's Avatar
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    I think one reason the Govt decided to include ICT as part of the BSF managed services was because they could not trust the LAs (and school leadership teams) to spend the money wisely otherwise. I know this is a sweeping generalisation and does not hold true for all LAs and all leadership teams but it is evident from the discussions on Edugeek that many schools and LAs waste vast amounts of money on poorly thought out projects that do not serve the best interests of the students.

    Forcing the ICT design & procurement to go through a rigid, formal design process orchestrated by Partnership for Schools will for many schools & LAs make sure the money does get spent more wisely than if it were to be a free-for-all.

    I also think ICT was a 'sweetener' for bidders to get more revenue from the process.

  10. #40

    broc's Avatar
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    In case you missed the Govt announcement that started this thread (vs the more exciting newspaper article)

    Taken from DCSF website, published 9th April 2008...

    Next steps in secondary school building programme -
    - BSF waves 7-15 local authority consultation published today -


    Every local authority could have the opportunity to join Building Schools for the Future (BSF) earlier, under proposals to accelerate entry into the programme published for consultation today by Schools Minister Jim Knight.

    Over 1000 school building projects in 72 local authorities are already under way in the first six waves of BSF, to give all secondary school pupils world-class teaching and learning facilities.

    And the Government now wants the remaining 76 local authorities to join the once-in-a-generation programme as fast as possible.

    Under existing plans, wave seven will be launched in early 2009, with funding coming on stream in 2011. But a handful of remaining local authorities would not see any BSF building project start until wave 15.

    Today’s public consultation on managing waves seven to 15 and deciding the order in which those authorities not yet in the programme will join BSF. It includes proposals that:

    • all local authorities will have a chance to join BSF as soon as they have strong plans to deliver at least an initial, streamlined project of four or five schools – including tackling the most under-performing or failing schools and those in pockets of deprivation;

    BSF will have a wider range of criteria to decide how projects should be prioritised – including areas with major social regeneration and development projects; schools with the poorest infrastructure to avoid costly short-term patch and mend; and areas which are planning wider community facilities, including Children’s Centres, extended school facilities and broader provision for young people;

    • local authorities will join BSF in a rolling programme when they are ready – rather than waiting for formal, set year-on-year launches;

    • some projects will no longer be required to include schools in the same geographical part of a local authority area. This would give local authorities greater flexibility to invest in schools and target funding exactly where it is needed; and

    • neighbouring local authorities should work closer in setting up Local Education Partnerships (LEPs), to get the most efficient procurement, planning and building programmes in place.

    This hardly sounds like the death of BSF, does it? How many LAs in waves 7-15 will now make a dash fo 'funds' ?

  11. #41

    tech_guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grommit View Post
    Did you know a Skoda cost around £7 000 yet the cake cost £500 000 to make and they couldn't eat it because it had gone off because of the lights and heat..
    Hmmmm, there's an analogy in there somewhere.....

  12. #42
    Diello's Avatar
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    I think one reason the Govt decided to include ICT as part of the BSF managed services was because they could not trust the LAs (and school leadership teams) to spend the money wisely otherwise.
    True - but the Gov can't be trusted to spend the money wisely either.

    This hardly sounds like the death of BSF, does it? How many LAs in waves 7-15 will now make a dash fo 'funds' ?
    ...and you believe whatever the Gov propaganda machine tells you do you? BSF has not been a rip-roaring success, the article sometime ago about the number of schools actually completed bares this out, in light of that, it's hardly likely they're going to be able to successfully accelerate the program when they can't even complete the ones they said they could in the first place!

    Yes, you'll have Wave 7-15 schools that want BSF who will jump, you'll also get schools that dread BSF just sitting quietly in the corner letting the current Gov fad pass over so they can continue to educate, something the Gov seems to have forgotten about in their rush to give companies control of our schools.

  13. #43

    broc's Avatar
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    I am not trying to defend the Govt or BSF, any more than Grumbledook does

    I don't like the way BSF forces standardisation upon schools, I work in a wave 3 school and will see my job seriously diminished when the school is rebuilt so I have a lot to lose by way of BSF. But sticking my head in the sand, or hoping BSF will be cancelled isn't going to work. Clutching at straws like the Guardian article which suggests BSF is doomed, or dismissing Govt press releases as merely 'propaganda' doesn't work for me either.

    Take a look around, search the Internet for news stories that support/agree with the Guardian article; see if you can find any.

    Waves 1-3 were/are essentially pathfinder waves as the BSF program gained momentum; I think one of the lessons learned early on was that the BSF projects as they stand involving more than a handful of schools are too big/complex/risky for LAs, bidders alike and they are taking too long. I think all this Govt press release does is suggests they are looking for ways of targeting candidate schools a bit more, and breaking the process up into more manageable chunks that will be delivered more quickly.

    1000 projects underway in almost half the LAs across England, even though many of them are way behind schedule is still a very significant start to an incredibly ambitious undertaking.
    Last edited by broc; 11th April 2008 at 10:54 AM.

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    Overall it will probably turn out ok for the taxpayer but will undermine a good (cheap) skills base that has built up in edu IT and will lower the quality of support in schools. For a government that claims to care about skills and personal development they sure know how to make you feel undervalued.

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