I have been watching this forum with interest since BSF first appeared on the agenda in my LA last year.
Having been a Technician and Network Manager, I think I have helped significantly to shape the current excellent ICT infrastructure and associated services and facilities which are currently enjoyed within my School today.
More importantly though I feel that I (and my team) have proactively encouraged the innovative attitude of our most ambitious ICT literate staff via a ‘can do’ attitude. Very rarely have we come across a new technology that we had to say “sorry, it wont work”.
Having read a lot of the threads on this forum it seems I am not alone. It seems there are lots of people employed by schools, often under paid and under valued, but fully committed and dedicated to the education of the young people who attend their School.
What appears to be lacking so far though, is a concerted effort to question the validity and quality of the BSF process and more specifically, the “managed services” scenario.
Having spent sometime Googling the BSF programme it seems very few people involved within the process have dared to question it (except in these forums of course). It seems equally difficult to find any information about BSF, with the exception of the propaganda spouted by the Council’s and Government.
Maybe it is time this changed? Maybe it is time an alternative viewpoint was offered to all involved, parents, teachers, headteachers, politicians and the general public at large?
Maybe it’s time the public realised how much money is being spent on “expert” ICT consultants for example?
Maybe it’s time the public realised that most of the BSF schemes are essentially PFI projects and thus will be costing the tax payer a fortune for years to come?
Maybe it’s time the public realised the huge education experiment that is occurring in the UK at the moment which will potentially adversely affect a whole generation of children?
Make no mistake, BSF is a political process. This is true at national level within the government and local level within Council’s. This fact alone means it is essentially a changeable process.
BSF is not set in stone. Managed services are not mandatory.
What is needed is a, counter-BSF voice and we are the people to provide it.
At the moment, as I said in my previous post, most of the publically available "information" is simply a form of propoganda produced by the government and LA's to promote the building of shiny new fantastic learning environments (previously known as schools).
A more balanced view is definately overdue!
Firstly, I would like to see an appropriate online presence for the alternate viewpoint. Although this EduGeek forum is doing a great job of providing a balanced view of BSF, I feel the audience is somewhat limited as the vast majority of visitors are likely to be techies! In addition, it would be beneficial to have BSF related resources and articles at one central source rather than spread out over lots of threads. There is some fantastic content within the BSF forum which I'm sure could provide a solid foundation for an online presence.
Secondly, highlighting issues in the local press is often beneficial as well as utilising local radio (BBC in particular usually have a breakfast show to highlight "community issues" such as this).
For example, if I was to use the Freedom of Information Act to find out how much a Council has spent on ICT Consultants, it would be relatively easy to issue a press release highlighting the fact that despite having expertise "in house" within the council, they have paid thousands for "advice" and have nothing to show for it (ie no outcomes). Obviously this is over simplification, but most local tabloids love stories that are easy to understand and relay to their audience. Once the issue is highlighted in the local press, their is a good chance that the local radio station will also be willing to run with the story (often on the Breakfast Show which is one of the most listened to shows).
Thirdly, lobbying elected members of Councils and highlighting the pitfalls of BSF is likely to yield results, even if they are not immediate and initially obvious. It's surprising what goes on behind the scenes in Town Halls!
Also, the "opposition" (be it Tory, Labour, Lib Dems) within the Town Hall would normally be interested in criticising the controlling group and what better weapon than BSF!
Basically the potential is vast and these are just some thoughts off the top of my head based on previous experience. I'm sure there are far more creative ideas that could be generated given some brainstorming by us all!
Very good places to start.
Have you considered registering a domain and hosting a site where information you find from places like here could be collated for people to see?
The one thing that I have spotted from the view of someone who tends to put the balanced view across is that whilst many are happy to attack the various aspects of BSF, few are coming up with alternative suggestions, whether we are talking about ICT Managed Services, building the schools or running the schools.
If someone was to get this together it would be extremely powerful. The downside of this is that it is often very difficult to get information about what is going on and put forward ideas for change.
Best of luck with it.
Trojan Horse anyone? I'm fairly confident that there are people in senior positions, operating within the BSF process, within LA's and schools who could possibly be encouraged to share information.
I think fighting back against BSF would be very tough. As a previously indicated, BSF is also about PFI and outsourcing.
I onced worked in a large government IT Department that was outsourced (when I was a relatively junior member) and a LOT of staff were saying hey this is not going to work. It will end up being less productive, cost more money etc etc. The staff that I know that still work there are still saying it now! I worked for the company that won the outsourcing BID long enough to see not only could they not deliver, it also cost a LOT more money to run the service.
I like the idea of fighting back, but I think that BSF it too small a subject within a much bigger issue.
I am not trying to put you off your idea just suggesting that it will be a VERY tough task. No major political parties are wanting to move away from PFI/outsourcing any time soon and that is a big part of the issue here.
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