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BSF Thread, BSF - A Few Questions... in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; My school is due to go the BSF route in 2009. I've heard all sorts of stories from everywhere but ...
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    BSF - A Few Questions...

    My school is due to go the BSF route in 2009. I've heard all sorts of stories from everywhere but never been told anything official. So maybe someone can shed some light on the matter and answer some questions I have:

    As the Network (ICT) Technician, in a team of 2 people, is it true we will need to re-apply for our jobs?

    Since visiting BETT loads of people talked about an ICT contract and that in the new school, RM come in and you have to do everything their way, or no way. We currently run a vanilla Windows network, however, this will not be the case in the new school and that we will be forced to use CC3. Is there any truth to this?

    Another (rumour?) - I will no longer be the Network Technician for the school, but instead, I will be employed as an onsite technician for RM, but paid for by the school. Again, is there any truth to this?

    Regardless, could someone please enlighten me as to exactly what goes on in the BSF process and where exactly we stand as technicians?

    Zoom7000

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    the trouble is it all depends on your individual LEA and who exactly is bidding for or been awarded the contract. There are plenty of other factors aswel ranging from timescales, money & one for our skill will it or wont it happen and if it does when?

    Were a phase 1 school in our LEA so you would think we'd know a fair bit but we dont.

    ultimatly it looks like IT support for all schools in our area will be outsourced, probably to CAPITA. Our contracts will then be transferred and we will now be working for CAPITA. Obviously were really happpy about this.

    TO be honst with you its a complete shambles and no one can say for sure until contracts are signed etc. that another problem lol

    Terms (atleast) here are yet to be agreed, how much mortage will the school have to pay, how many times will we have to meet the architect....the list goes on.

    IF and when this happens i expect to have around 12 months to find a new job!

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    I've heard all sorts of stories from everywhere but never been told anything official.
    They don't say anything official as they need to keep the service running up until the point the outsourcing is implemented. If the BSF ICT companies said 'yes we'll devalue ICT technicians jobs, tupe them across then make half of them redundant' then ICT techs would leave, the schools would be scr*wed and it will make the outsourcing job more difficult.

    Since visiting BETT loads of people talked about an ICT contract and that in the new school, RM come in and you have to do everything their way, or no way. We currently run a vanilla Windows network, however, this will not be the case in the new school and that we will be forced to use CC3. Is there any truth to this?
    this is my understanding, but of course depends on the company that win the contract.


    Another (rumour?) - I will no longer be the Network Technician for the school, but instead, I will be employed as an onsite technician for RM, but paid for by the school. Again, is there any truth to this?
    Again, this is my understanding


    There is lots of info in this section, and it isn't *all* bad news - some LEA's can bid to keep ICT inhouse (although this isn't a preffered option).

    Also BSF is required to do full consultation before the due dates - This is the time to get Unison involved - they can help negotiate redundancy/tupe etc. If you don't get the union involved the consultation may not include you. Here is a non-BSF case that unison helped keep jobs and save from outsourcing:
    http://news.zdnet.co.uk/itmanagement...9285463,00.htm

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    In a nutshell;

    Almost all schools, as part of BSF will be expected to subscribe to a Managed ICT service. The choice of service provider will be made by your LA, schools are consulted (in varying degrees) but largely have no choice about signing up to the Managed Service if they want the very significant funding for ICT (> £1m typically) that comes with BSF.

    It is highly likely that all school-based ICT support staff will be transferred to the Managed Service provider under TUPE legislation which is designed to protect your employment & pension rights.

    The choice of service provider is 'influenced' by an organisation called Partnership for Schools.

    You really need to do some research, the BSF forum on Edugeek is a good place to start.

    As with most things, there are exceptions; existing Trust Schools, Foundation Schools, Academies might be different.

    Some LAs are trying to retain some level of involvement/participation with the Managed Service provider, things are different all over the country. You need to speak to your opposite numbers in your local schools who may know more about what is happening in your area. Also, if you are a member of a union, ask them. If you are not a union member, you might like to consider if now would be a good time to join.

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    From a number of off-the-record conversations last week ...

    No matter who wins the contract they will pretty much work to the contract. If they help write the contract of course they will make life easier for them, ensuring that they make the most money for their share-holders ... they are businesses ... that is what they do.

    The LEP that prepare the contract will be made up of a number of people that set out the requirements. It is at this stage that it is important for schools to have their say. At this point it becomes political and some schools will not be ask to take part inthe discussions whilst others will ... it is up to your school's Manglement team to ensure that the needs of your school are put forward.

    If the needs of your school are not put forward or are not included then there is nothing to stop your school employing you directly. You may not have complete access or control to the system that is put in until the contractors realise that having on at the school will save them money and time ... the idea behind groups of schools banding together to share this level of technician has already been bandied around and is influencing the decisions for some LAs to have in-house support teams involved.

    The same with what kit (hardware, software or infrastructure) is used ... to ensure that it is based on the needs of the curriculum at your school and not just a shopping list to meet the Becta IT Infrastructure (which is actually a good shopping list) then your school needs to get involved in the discussions ...

    The same applies to Learning Platforms at LA / RBC level.

    To summarise ... pressure can be put on LAs to make certain decisions by having leading schools in the area gang up to help make the decisions. Also union pressure over the transfer of jobs or the changing of roles within schools is an avenue to explore (but not seen it be successful yet).

    Part of the problem is having to sell yourself as a valued commodity to your school ... sometimes that is very difficult and can only be done when you compare yourself to other schools ... which can appear as if you are saying that other schools are crap and you are good ... which can then give evidence that you are an exception and whilst being a loss to the school the LA is considering the greater good of the students ...

    Obviously this is a lot of paraphrasing but it does pretty much sum up the conversations. I am still waiting back some quotable information for BSF contract winners and will hassle them shortly ... let's give thema chance to recover from BETT (and me!!!)

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    @grumbledook - can you give actual examples of where schools have directly influenced the BSF programme, this sounds like a lot of marketing hype - the examples I've seen on these forums is that the consultation is where consultants come in and tell the school how its going to work, and the school has no choice but to go along.

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    Parrs Wood is the only one I have real evidence of and that is from information from the SSAT ... this is the part of the information I have requested from BSF contract winners.

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    Tony is right in what he says.

    As always, there are a few twists to this BSF saga too. In return for the one-time capital investment in ICT, schools that sign up for the managed service have to shell out a sizeable amount each year to pay for it. I have seen figures of between £80-£120+ per student per year for 5 years or more. At the lower end they don't get kit replaced & have limited support, at the higher end they get more. IMO only wealthy schools will be able to afford to sign up for the managed service & employ staff directly. Those ICT support staff who have been employed in roles with clear T&L content might be lucky & remain in their schools employment.

    Also, what happens to existing school assets? If in the past your school has bought 'clone' PCs, or built DIY PCs that do not fit with the Managed Service providers 'specs' or you have anything else that is not 'stock' spec according to the managed service provider you may find you have to pay extra to have them 'maintain' this kit. This whole area about who owns the assets, & what schools will have to pay to continue using their legacy assets is a minefield & one that could prove very costly.

    If you currently have a higher spec environment (kit & support) than the 'baseline' proposed by the LA BSF team, you may have to pay more, or reduce your levels of equipment/support too.

    If your Interactive classroom technology, MIS, VLE, or antivirus solution providers don't fit in with the managed service provider guess what? You will be expected to change to whatever the managed service provider bids. You may be used to vanilla Windows, and end up with migrating to RM CC3, or thin client, or Linux or something completely different!

    Your school may be wondering, why not freeze spending on ICT for the next few years, knowing they are going to get everthing renewed by BSF? Think again; schools that deliberately neglect their environments may find their managed services costs 'weighted' to bring them up to the minimum level at BSF cutover.

    Every LA that is part of BSF has to produce a 'draft output specification' document that outlines the collective requirements needed by the schools, this becomes a crucial document that is part of the bidding process with suppliers. If you have any special requirements you NEED to be involved in the drafting of this, or at least be consulted.

    I have seen several iterations of these, none of which so far has included any real aspects of support beyond a 'helpdesk'; they only focus on hardware/software/resources.

    In fairness however, I have to say that there is some real vision in some of the ideas incorporated in these documents too; ideas that will push the boundaries of teaching & learning; the potential for virtualisation of applications & services, solid state 'one for all' client technology, anywhere access for all......

    I honestly think the consultation process with decisions involving ICT support & staffing levels for many LAs has been left in the 'too hard' box for the moment

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    Just to throw another thing in to allow you to get your head teacher listening to you about it. Steve Moss the leader of the BSF program has said publicly that school results in BSF schools will go down for at least the first 3 years of the program. So I expect Ofstead to close down most of these schools and reopen them as academies

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    Can you opt out of the ICT part of BSF? If for example you have an interactive white board in everyroom, a very good ratio of PC's to students all good spec, several laptop trollys, staff all with laptops, and everything is working great and mangement is happy with the way things are, are they forced stop this way of working and have a nightmare?

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    I've heard that you can opt out of the ICT finding aspect and this will remove the £1m ICT fund however I'm not sure if this will be looked on favourably by most schools what constitutes ICT Air Con for instance is really only needed in server/comms rooms et cetera so can that be brought under a different budget? I've also heard that funding is curtailed for ICT in the years leading up to the BSF project, Tony is there any truth in that? My main gripe with the £1m funding is where do you then get the money to replace the kit in 3 - 5 years time? If you've bought state of the art network hardware and servers and desktops/laptops et cetera when it comes to replacing them you'll have to drastically cut back on what you'd would have so most of the school will still be running the original equipment years down the line?


    Wes

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    @wesleyw

    As I understand it, schools receive a funding stream referred to as 'Devolved' Capital. Some part of this has traditionally been ringfenced to provide ICT investment funds.

    In the years (3 years I think) leading up to BSF, devolved capital is held back by the LA, just in case the school decides to 'waste' devolved capital redecorating part of a building due to be bulldozed. I think it is up to the LA to decide how much to hold back, and if any is to remain ringfenced for ICT.

    As far as replacing kit supplied under BSF capital funding, schools can elect to pay a higher 'managed service' charge and some of the extra is used to fund replacement kit during the life of the BSF contract. What is slightly alarming is the idea that most ICT equipment in schools will have a 5 year life expectancy.

    Also, you can be sure that the managed service provider will not pick up the tab for equipment stolen or damaged by vandalism or inexperienced users.... like teachers clearing a printer wreck with scissors & chewing up the rollers!

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    On the flipped side if the contract is writern correctly the managed service provide will need to provide x amount of computers working 99% of the time so it will have to replace those stolen/vandalised computers quickly or be in breach of contract.

    The capital is also to put in CCTV,VOIP but it really is all down to how well the contract is writern and if the lawyers can make the company stick to it.

    I can't wait to see a realistic price to support a laptop for a teacher. I suspect it will be allowcated on 3 laptops a year per teacher depending on how close the pub is to the school. Sorry I've just had sony told me they don't cover water damage to their motherboard as part of the warrenty !!!

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    Thanks for the info guys. At the end of the day as much as I am very disappointed by the fact that some bigshot company with CEOs and men in tophats on 6 figure salaries will be controlling how I work in my school, I can live with it if I have no choice.

    My main worry is whether my job is actually safe, and there is no way I will negotiate a lesser pay deal. Infact, I want more! The problem is with the SLT in most schools and their relationship with support staff. A quote I read once put it all very nicely.

    "Support staff are the necessary evil in schools"

    This is why I feel that we won't get the best deal, because the SLT won't give enough time and concentration in terms of the support staff and because support staff always seem to be overlooked.

    Maybe it's time to move away from the education sector. Thanks a lot Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

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    Re: BSF - A Few Questions...

    Update from Unison friend, RE: TUPE Transfer

    "under the TUPE consultation process the prospective and existing employer must disclose whether they anticipate making any changes that will have an adverse effect on the potentially transferred employees"

    This means that if the new employer is planning on making redundancies or major changes to working practice it must be disclosed during the consultation process. This is a point of law, if it has not been done then there is a chance that the consultation was either not done properly or only lip-service was applied. This is common in local government. If you suspect this may be the case then get onto Unison to hassle the government - this may well effect thousands of ICT employees nationally and it is important that it is done properly!
    Sometimes the outcome of consultation and the effect on employees may be posted in an obscure place (hidden on an LEA website) apparently this is used as a tactic so that the employer meets the minimal requirements of the law, but so as not to attract too much 'unwanted' attention because they want the service delivered up until the point of transfer.

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