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BSF Thread, Computing Podcast covers BSF in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Just listened to this in my feeds. Schools' IT managers are warning of major problems with the 45bn Building Schools ...
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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Computing Podcast covers BSF

    Just listened to this in my feeds.

    Schools' IT managers are warning of major problems with the 45bn Building Schools for the Future programme - we discuss their concerns.
    http://images.vnunet.com/v7_static/c...podcast_67.mp3

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    A couple of inaccuracies in there that they need to correct. It seemed that she was saying that the school was running the show and then drifted into the LA running the show. There is a little confusion there.

    A school can use the Becta Consultancy Framework to select a company to provide technology solutions. This can be done as part of one off projects or group builds but BSF is not restricted to this framework as it is an EU tender.

    The LA write the strategy for change / business plan, which is then submitted to PfS to get the money. The LA are meant to consult with schools on this but let's face it ... it is an LA plan.

    The companies bid ... longlist, shortlist, consultation with schools, final bid and then preffered bidder is chosen. Negotiation happens with schools (but based around what the LA / LEP want to offer / provide) and then financial close happens with the contract set in stone.

    What happens next is based on the contract, but so far it looks like in house staff are grabbed by the company, moved around based on what was decided in the contract and then told to do what their new contracts say, no matter what the skills or experience of the staff may be.

    The main complaint / issue / worry is apparently innovation because large suppliers cannot innovate ... erm ... that arguement is just going to get blown out of the water. Then saying that it is the small supplier that leads the innovation misses us all again.

    Forgetting about obvious concerns about jobs for the moment, the article could / should concentrate on the innovation, cost saving, excellent service done by staff employed in house within schools. Not small suppliers, not large suppliers (both of which will have plenty of examples to hand about how they *do* innovate, believe me on this).

    I have to admit I am slightly annoyed at the constant reference to the people talking to them being Computing readers ... I am an irregluar reader of it, but the fact that a huge chunk of the research was done on here and this was not attributed is poor journalism. Damn poor.

    Back to the innovation and cost saving ... we have already seen in a previous thread the amount of work and areas that Grommit and the others at his school do ... it would be nice to see some cost comparisons against commercial providers on this to give examples of the lower TCO by using in house staff. If anyone is keen to lead on this I can help out where I can (time permitting).

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    No point telling me that, email them

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    I too felt that the journalist was somewhat poor in that article. Many of her points were unclear and contradictory. Many of her points were inaccurate. Personally, I think the article did more harm than good and IT pros that do not work in education will simply think that we are whinging about potentially losing our jobs over something that is a good thing.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Email sent along with pointers where to get the correct information about the process of selecting companies, how the different Becta frameworks actually work, why it is an LA project and not a school one, the fact that it is not just the small companies that innovate, big ones do too ... but we are concerned that the innovation *we* do will be lost.

    And a polite request that if they ask for us to discuss things and use that as basis for an article that they at least attribute things to us.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Not a single mention either.

    *sniff*

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    Joanne's Avatar
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    not impressed... didn't really say anything valid about the true bsf thing or anything... can't believe they didn't credit the forum either !!

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    Diello's Avatar
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    A heads up would have been nice - certainly since they quoted a few of us! Rather to much about our jobs, and not enough about schools being harmed for my liking.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Their emailed response did not accept that they had gotten facts wrong, just that they are limited for space as to how much they can stick into an article.

    Since they also did not use any direct quotes from the thread, merely used us as a method of gaining contacts of people wanting to speak out, again, they do not feel the need to attribute anything to us.

    I have sent a fresh email asking them to at least sort out the factual inaccuracies.

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    I do agree with most of the points that were made in the article, notwithstanding the points that were missed.

    The thing that really bugs me is that LA's seem to forget that they have teams of often well-qualified technical staff already in schools.
    From the evidence of BSF that I have seen (by members here), the technical staff are ommited from the process or given little regard.

    Schools and LA's could handle the BSF money responsibly - but often the LA's just think that they don't have the technical resources to do so because they disregard the techs they already have. It would be better value for schools to adopt business-like processes, and be measured accordingly. The problem has always been a lack of accountability within schools, BSF outsourcing won't fix that culture.

    The larger suppliers, which have to adhere to very stringent internal processes cannot help being less innovative. just look at the implications for leading schools binning their integrated VLE's for less-innovative, less well-developed corporate VLE's as an example. I've not seen any commercial VLE's that have the sort of innovation that the open source community has developed

    Also, innovation doesn't just mean on a technology level - it can also mean getting best value, and centralisation isn't always the best way to get value.
    Especially when there are profits to be made.

    It's great to get some press coverage of BSF ICT, rather than the usual government propaganda.

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