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BSF Thread, I (we) categorically do not want BSF Managed ICT in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Oh gawd, now I'm totally confused! I've been told that BSF will not happen in East Sussex, but it seems, ...
  1. #16
    theeldergeek
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    Oh gawd, now I'm totally confused!

    I've been told that BSF will not happen in East Sussex, but it seems, the wagon is still very much rolling in other parts of the country. I can't imagine East Sussex is being left out!

    What's this about only one ICT Technician staying on site? Where does the rest of the 'team' go? I for one do not want to be locked up in a call centre for 8 hours a day!

  2. #17

    broc's Avatar
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    Authorities are invited to bid for funding, a long drawn out process. Some who do are successful, others fail. Those that fail can resubmit with modifications.... some do, some don't.

    Some LAs have decided not to bid, others have decided to wait & see what happens after the General Election.....

    As far as what happens to school-based technical support staff, there are no hard & fast rules, it depends largely upon the LA & their partners in the LEP who negotiate with the schools (in theory) to agree an affordable cost of ICT provision. The higher the cost the more onsite support.....

    The most likely victims to suffer from this are network managers, especially where the LEP has chosen to centralise servers & server management. This may not happen immediately as it will take time to scale up the managed service. A 'new' managed service might only have 4-5 client schools, but it may have been designed for 20.... in my view the later you are in this sort of program the more you are at risk.... but this is all down to individual LAs & their BSF solutions....
    Last edited by broc; 29th March 2010 at 01:07 PM.

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  4. #18

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    Transformation is
    You're just not going to budge on this "then some magic happens" stuff, are you? ;b

    ::regroups::

    There is a old book, non-fiction, that in an ideal world everyone would read. Perhaps I liked it because it reflected existing predjudice, I don't know, but plenty of other folk seem to get it. This is Papanek's "Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change". Forty years old now and some of the once radical memes were quite virulent and caught on, but having dipped in recently that just makes some of it more fascinating. It's a passionate tour de force and unless you're dead from the neck up you should emerge from that with a new (perhaps renewed) fondness for doing/creating socially responsible stuff that works.

    With that in mind back at the educational ranch, I'm convinced I'm looking at socially irresponsible rhetoric, grandiose undeliverable promises, a direct consequence of Blair's messianic shtick. And having just skimmed one re. parental engagement, they've even got the pet research papers that are supposed to be academic founded on scientific method surely, talking about "quantum leaps" for [bleepity-bleep]!

    It might improve educational life a bit here or there, but this transformational thing seems like the equivalent of staking your future on buying a couple of dozen lottery tickets and hoping one wins the jackpot. Reality and history are very strongly against that strategy and when it doesn't work there will be excuses, blame displacement ("but they were too risk adverse!") and further down the line history will likely remark on the arrogance or naivete or more likely, plain stupidity of it all.

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  6. #19

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Nope ... not going to budge.

    Ok ... since we have different opinions on this how about taking it from another point of view.

    If the school is not going to try new things at any time, take risks and experiment then I presume you are saying that it should stick with what they know right now.

    What happens if they are a failing or satisfactory school? They need to change something to improve.
    If they are a good school then how do they keep things going without coasting?

    Outstanding schools stay outstanding because they change ...

    Transformation is the buzzword for change. For some schools it is a small thing (or a series of small things) for others it is big ... get rid of leadership, change the curriculum, use technology differently (ranging from going open source through to introducing game based learning). It just doesn't get called change, but that doesn't quite cover how much planning and thinking is needed.

    I know some of this will fall on deaf ears because you seem to have something against research done by Becta or DCSF ... but I've been out into enough schools now to see good examples of it working. People say they want examples of things in action ... and yep ... Papanek (only read abstracts and selected texts) did both the talk and practical examples ... so how about giving others a break when they want to give examples. If you want examples of transformation then there are a few places to start. Have a look at what has been going on today at the Games Based Learning conference. Yes ... a fair bit of rhetoric, but also lots of classroom teachers and SLTs talking about what works and how it has changed things.

    For the cynics out there ... if you want to stick with simple, a standard template for IT, no change ... then surely you are advocating going for a managed service.

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    Lol just talked the boss and in his words

    'This has already been discussed in depth with the head, the SMT, and the governors and under no circumstances whatsoever will we ever go to Managed ICT services as they could never be any benefit for us in doing so’


    Have to hope they stay true to their word

    It is quite obvious that the ICT side of the BSF is the big sweetener my guess this is what will happen

    A Remote provider is given a 5 year contract, so can afford to sell initial Hardware at a loss

    ICT Managers are given the elbow or demoted to technicians

    On site support is dropped to one technician to teach staff how change toners and to ring the support line

    One year on the ICT technician’s contract is not renewed (come on why you need to pay someone to put toners in and ring India)

    3 years on time for some new PC’s only this time at full price as these machines are out of date and will no longer be supported that will be £500,000 please

    4 years on a whole year with no support everything begins to fall apart

    5 years on contract over, re-employ and IT Manager and some Technicians to make all the old work again only to find it’s all licensed to your RM service and you cant do anything with it
    Dohhh

    Sorry to be a little cynical, but if I was a remote service provider this is exactly what I would do to maximise profit

    I came across this little bit of wisdom whilst browsing

    The mistake of the past is too much emphasis on technology – e.g. fast computers, expensive multimedia centres and broadcast stations, but with little attention to how they can effectively transform learning. Schools were wrong in adapting students to technology instead of adapting technology to students

    ps
    for what it's worth our ofsted report was the best in our area with lots of outstanding
    Lol we had someone the other day trying to sell us a single sign on package, I'm sure they didn’t believe me when I told them we all ready had this lol! why would you pay for what microsoft does for free LDAP
    Last edited by EduTech; 29th March 2010 at 09:12 PM. Reason: language

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  10. #21
    monkeyx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Nope ... not going to budge.

    For the cynics out there ... if you want to stick with simple, a standard template for IT, no change ... then surely you are advocating going for a managed service.
    Perhaps some people disagree with having services that are managed from the centre.Hence the growth of Trust and Foundation schools. The scope and role of central services has been much reduced over recent years and more control given to schools. ICT under BSF reverses that decision.

    Most people report that ICT in BSF has been mediocre, but is slowly getting better. EducationInvestor - Article: PwC finds that BSF is working - mostly

    Why not leave the schools the choice to chose their own IT under BSF. From the schools I have spoken to, most have confirmed that it has stifled innovation and not always provided good value!

    I hope that does not make schools that want a choice over ICT provision cynical. Indeed BSF acadamies are allowed to opt(not 100% sure as seems to vary between LAs) out to give them greater innovation.

    In our own area they also attempted to take over Facilities management via BSF to transform the process. The schools rejected the move, as it restricted innovation and increased costs!

    Hmm that is beginning to seem like a theme

    Tim

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  12. #22

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Don't worry Tim ... I know where you are coming from.

    The problem is that I, like you, have seen MSPs going into schools and it stifle things, slows things down, makes them take a step back in what they are doing with technology ... for a year, maybe two ... and then it generally evens out. There are some really bad problems for some places though .. and those are the problems we hear about most.

    But when talking to some school SLT they accept the pain and then say that they find they are getting a more consistent service than they were previously. Do I blame the support staff in the school? No ... I blame the SLT for not getting to grips with things previously. I visited one school in another LA recently where the head complained about how it was a shock to find that on all kit they purchased there was a fee to cover the support and maintenance of it over the period of the contract. I asked if this was comparable to previous costs (ie take into account the salary of the existing support staff, any costs for external support, etc, etc) and she looked at me blankly, had no real idea what had been spent previously. This was a school that had no inventory because when the support folk had done one previously the bursar had said there was no point and it was a waste of time as they had the finance records to work from! And this was a school that consistently gets good from OFSTED.

    How do you measure a school? If you want to see the lengths the measurement has to go to to justify whether it is viable against the managed service just have a look at Paul Haigh's blog from Notre Dame.

    If you have the position of allowing schools the ultimate choice you run the risk of a school opting out and still cocking things up and wasting money. What would the minimum criteria be to be allowed to opt out?

    1 - ICTMark?
    2 - FITS trained support staff and at least on member of SLT?
    3 - FMSiS?
    4 - Good from OFSTED?
    5 - 5 year school Dev plan with IT closely integrated in their?
    6 - Fully provisioned VLE with examples of serious use?
    7 - MIS which is used by all staff, accessible to parents *and* students?

    And this is before you even get onto looking at what impact technology has on T&L ... before we go into safeguarding ... before we even start talking about policies and procedures ...

    So ... considering that if money is going to be given to schools if they opt out of a managed service how would you set down some basic criteria to see whether they are suitable (considering the number of rants we have on here about people buying white elephants or wasting money in other ways) ... and then how would you measure that it is working effectively? I know that some of the reasons why IT is lumped in with BSF are to do with transformation , politics, finances, partnership with private companies, etc ... but it is also because schools waste money or don't plan for IT properly. Elements of Govt say that schools cannot be trusted (I don't agree with that ... some can't be ... most can, but they do need steering in the right direction) ... so please feel free to give suggestions how a school can justify opting out.

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  14. #23

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    While I agree in principle with what Grumbledook is saying (I often do ), I find it ironic that the Govt are saying schools cannot be trusted to spend ICT money wisely when we so frequently hear about the Govt not being capable of managing its 'own' spending.... & by that I don't mean MP expenses

    Just ask yourself....

    How many MoD procurements have failed to provide the forces what they need when they need it?

    How many Govt ICT projects have gone pear shaped?

    How many new schools built under BSF are open so far against the targets set? The LAs blame PfS for being so dogmatic & prescriptive, PfS blame the LAs for lacking the skills....

    How many new school designs are considered satisfactory by CABE?

    How much money has been wasted on urban regeneration, failing to deliver what people need - jobs. In some areas all that this massive state intervention & investment has succeeded in doing is making the communities totally dependent upon state handouts because so many households have no wage earners & are 2nd & 3rd generation long term unemployed.

    The fact remains Local Government, aided by organisations such as BECTA, Partnership for Schools, Education Action Zones along with initiatives like Computers for Pupils have all frequently failed to deliver too.

    So why should managed services courtesy of BSF be different? Which 'magic' component does BSF have, that all these other programmes, initiatives, projects don't?

    Use OFSTED (or similar) to make schools shape up..... let schools have flexibility as long as they meet minimum standards.....
    Last edited by broc; 30th March 2010 at 08:55 AM.

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  16. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    so please feel free to give suggestions how a school can justify opting out.
    Excuse me for jumping on the band wagon that is your conversation. But I think a school should be allowed to opt out of managed ICT because there is a good chance it will strongly affect the ICT teams lives.

    I work in a small school (600 students, 100 staff (give or take)) with an IT team of 3, A network manager and two technicians (myself included). If our school was to have a managed ICT system the chances are we would lose all flexibility within our role as a support team. For instance the last couple of days we have been running cables through the ceiling to increase the connection into several offices. If this school was under a managed ICT team then that flexibility wouldn't be there. We would have to request permission from central and wait for a response, just to run a few cables to help out some colleauges. Yes new equipment would be nice, but not accross the whole school.

    Not only that, there is a good chance the Network Manager will lose his job, or have his job turned into a technician. And from what I have heard they will reduce the ammount of support in a school anyway.

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  18. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    Use OFSTED (or similar) to make schools shape up..... let schools have flexibility as long as they meet minimum standards.....
    Lots of very fair points ... but we have already seen that OFSTED have pulled out of the IT infrastructure side of things ... and most of us here have little faith in the ability of OFSTED to adequately assess that side of things anyway ... and then we have to remember that OFSTED actually only come in to verify the school SLT assessment of things. How many people have expressed concern that their SLT aren't in a position to make that assessment either.

    So ... how do we assess that a school will meet the minimum criteria (once we decide what they are)?

  19. #26

    broc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    So ... how do we assess that a school will meet the minimum criteria (once we decide what they are)?
    It's not hard; When I worked for a large Global IT Services provider, as a consultancy practice we were frequently employed to carry out technical audits of client computer systems far more complex than a typical school would have. We would look at all aspects of IT operation, planning, disaster recovery, security (including ethical hacking)...... by comparison a school would be a piece of cake

    So, the skills exist in industry already to carry out the work, or perhaps the LA could employ its own IT auditors to work in its schools in the same way as they audit school finances?

  20. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    If the school is not going to try new things at any time, take risks and experiment then I presume you are saying that it should stick with what they know right now.
    Had a good and smart friend at Secondary school who people thought was a bit thick, at a glance today he would very likely have been called dyslexic. His entire education experience was actually crippled, and that is the right scope and word, because his Primary stuck with that notorious ITA experiment well past the sell-by-date.

    "Risk" implies the possibility of negative outcomes. Perhaps it's terminology - you could have fail-safe experiments in mind and I probably wouldn't call those risks, but if it's a genuine risk i.e. something that could set kids back if it fails then there is an immediate ethical problem.

    I know some of this will fall on deaf ears because you seem to have something against research done by Becta or DCSF
    Nope just the only DCSF paper I've looked at this year that happened to talk about quantum leaps prior to the arrival of something like the Neuromancer head sockets. Good research is ultra-cautious for good reasons and IME just doesn't do that kind of language.

    Have a look at what has been going on today at the Games Based Learning conference <snip> lots of classroom teachers and SLTs talking about what works
    People standing up at conferences talking about the joy of X are self-selecting for more enthusiatic, engaging types and that should be considered in why something apparently works. What happens if you give it to a routine teachers and they don't find it thrilling? Yes it will probably work, but it certainly feels like that kind of very basic question that should always be asked is being overlooked by the technology-is-fab roller-coaster.

    and how it has changed things.
    This could be wrong too, but I've got a sense of change for change's sake here. You don't have to wander too far to find places where "stability" has a leading role relevant to educational outcomes.

    Deeper down: Plus ca change. I think there's a bit of perspective problem i.e. people working in a variety of educational tech fields are overstating it's importance. We obviously need a solid "background level". The more specialist stuff is surely quite useful in places. For kids it can clearly be a more entertaining/inspiring way of learning something. But education got by OK without tech and the core, non-vocational educational stuff doesn't need it. What is the ROI here?

    Change in terms of ripping Peter Principle people out of their cosy nests is another story.

    if you want to stick with simple, a standard template for IT, no change ... then surely you are advocating going for a managed service.
    We have and largely accept, the virtues of a national curriculum. Do we really need an infinite variety of tech carefully tailored to each individual school's needs to deliver that curriculum? A post code lottery is fine there, but not here? There's obviously a compromise somewhere, especially given that "carefully tailored" includes some rubbish systems, and presumably enough for ICT to get spot-welded to BSF in the first place. They[tm] got clean away with that "should be like turning on a light switch" slogan. Why?

    In principle managed services can deliver stability/reliability (derived via a pool of expertise none of us can hope to attain individually etc.) at the expense of that local responsiveness and flexibility. Unconvinced by the pressing need for so much local flexibility the concept doesn't really trouble me.

    The bit that does trouble me very much is the deafening silence which so far I've only seen punctuated by an occasional scream from an MSP school i.e. I'm not sure we're getting what we're paying, or at least should be paying, for. There are some people here that I reckon given the budget, could walk into some school with dire IT and within a few months have that school dancing for joy because of the improvement. Why aren't the MSP schools doing that?
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 30th March 2010 at 01:10 PM. Reason: Couple of typos - too long sorry!

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    The point is being missed here big style and the reason that is I started this post

    we as IT Mangers are paid to provide a service - provide the best possible results for minimal cost and we should have no problem :-

    • Setting up a web server using IIS and
      • installing and implementing a free VLE such as Moodle
      • Using IIS to give remotes access to shares
      • Creating a website and hosting it

    • Installing switches , networks etc..
    • Managing group policy
    • setting up wireless points
    • creating accounts
    • setting user quotas
    • setting antivirus schedules
    • auditing hardware
    • and so on ......


    and we will do this with the best intensions for the school , not for profit

    if you where in it to make money you would cut every corner possible to maximise the most profit thatís just the way business works and after spending the last 20 years or so as an it Manager and the first 15 of those in business I can tell you thats how it is

    and that is that, anyone who wants remote managed services you are welcome to it , but I would guess you are doing this because you feel incapable of doing a better job yourself - 'but trust me i'm sure most could'

    sorry to be cynical and put the cat amongst the pigeons - no offence meant

    PS I say use IIS and Moodle etc because they are free or even LDAP for single sign on, they are there already why pay someone to reinvent the wheel - madness !
    Last edited by sjpage10; 30th March 2010 at 03:53 PM.

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  24. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by sjpage10 View Post
    anyone who wants remote managed services you are welcome to it , but I would guess you are doing this because you feel incapable of doing a better job yourself

    sorry to be cynical and put the cat amongst the pigeons - no offence meant
    Without taking offence, or giving it (I hope), You are missing the point; if you look through the many many threads discussing BSF your views & opinions have been expressed many times before by others before you. You may not like it, or managed services, but BSF & Managed services is here to stay for a lot of schools regardless of what their ICT support staff think.

    The reality is that school network managers cannot stop BSF, or stop their schools signing up for BSF, & nor should they be able to. It is up to the school Senior management & the School Governors to make the decision to participate in managed services or not; there are three avenues open to them:

    Sign up & accept the managed service for what it is, but try to influence the outcome

    Reject the managed service & do without the BSF ICT funding (£1450 per student) of £1M+ per school.

    Try to bid for the funding direct... many schools would like to pursue this route, few have tried, even fewer have succeeded.

    All we can do as Network Managers is make sure that our school management & governors are equipped with the arguments they need to ensure that they can pursue whatever course of action they wish to take as well prepared as possible.
    Last edited by broc; 30th March 2010 at 04:00 PM.

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  26. #30

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    No offence taken

    I know your right, it just makes me sick that we are having our arms twisted - thankfully our SMT and Governors hate the way our local government treat us and have no desire to be told how to run our ICT so hopefully they will try and stop it, but I donít hold out much hope


    The carrot is just to Big, but hey lol it will come back to bite them all in a few years

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