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Courses and Training Thread, Defining our profession in Training and Courses; Originally Posted by SYNACK Its more alright for primary school techs who may not have as much experience but I ...
  1. #61

    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Its more alright for primary school techs who may not have as much experience but I do end up wondering what these people are actually paid to do as they seem to offload anything more complicated than changing a mouse.
    Not really.

    You're paid to do a job. [thing] is part of that job.

    Hiring [company] to do [thing] means the school is paying for the job to get done twice.


    Then again, lack of training [and the money to pay for it] results in schools not trusting you/me/others to do it.

    Yeah, I could PROBABLY do it. But, it'll take a bit longer as I'm learning while doing [which, personally, I prefer] and it may not be the best way... Plus, it may have to be redone/fixed because I made a mistake/oversight because I'm still learning.

    If people aren't given the chance to show they can do something, people are going to assume they can't. Especially if all the previous opportunities were passed on to external contractors.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    Not really.

    You're paid to do a job. [thing] is part of that job.

    Hiring [company] to do [thing] means the school is paying for the job to get done twice.


    Then again, lack of training [and the money to pay for it] results in schools not trusting you/me/others to do it.

    Yeah, I could PROBABLY do it. But, it'll take a bit longer as I'm learning while doing [which, personally, I prefer] and it may not be the best way... Plus, it may have to be redone/fixed because I made a mistake/oversight because I'm still learning.

    If people aren't given the chance to show they can do something, people are going to assume they can't. Especially if all the previous opportunities were passed on to external contractors.
    Firstly - as a basic tech (as I am in one of my schools), the job description is pretty clear and there really is quite a lot of stuff that I am NOT paid to do. So getting someone in from outside is not paying for it twice. Of course, most of the time I do just do it and so actually for the money they pay me the school is getting a really good deal.
    Secondly - it is me who decides whether things go to external contractors so it isnt that I dont get the chance to show what I can do from a tech perspective - it is almost always a time/tools/not a job for one person issue that stops me being able to do the more complex stuff. And as you say, there is no allowance for the mistakes I would inevitably make, and if you are talking about a new server build then that could be fairly major!

  3. #63

    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Firstly - as a basic tech (as I am in one of my schools), the job description is pretty clear and there really is quite a lot of stuff that I am NOT paid to do. So getting someone in from outside is not paying for it twice. Of course, most of the time I do just do it and so actually for the money they pay me the school is getting a really good deal.
    Secondly - it is me who decides whether things go to external contractors so it isnt that I dont get the chance to show what I can do from a tech perspective - it is almost always a time/tools/not a job for one person issue that stops me being able to do the more complex stuff. And as you say, there is no allowance for the mistakes I would inevitably make, and if you are talking about a new server build then that could be fairly major!

    I was talking from my own experience. I'm part-time [15 hours] and my original job spec said I was supposed to be doing infrastructure installs [not qualified], software package building [not experienced] and various other things I've never done before.

    Also, the choice to pass it over to external companies wasn't mine to make.

  4. #64

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    A few things on this discussion.
    I started to get conversation going with BCS Membership and a few others to try and look at what the barriers are to the idea of IT Support staff being regarded as professionals ... but there was very little input from others (partly due to it being a *busy* time so it might be worth trying it again in a few weeks) and I am not representative of all IT Staff ... and have a slightly different agenda, one based around raising the levels of accountability between support staff and their school, helping schools understand how to use that to improve their choices on tech and the difference those choices make.

    There is a difference between most primary schools and most secondary schools ... and a range of differences in between those as well. This is not a bad thing or a good thing ... just a 'thing'.

    There is nothing wrong with buying in expertise or time from others to do things. I do read some condescending things at times on here about people *not* doing their own server installs ... or even building a server ... or building workstations ... and just because someone chooses to buy in time or expertise from others it does not devalue the role someone plays in a school. An example would be the number of folk who buy in cablers. Many here can do cabling pretty well, to verifiable standards and with associated warranties ... but that is not always the best use of their time and so they pay others instead. Why is that so different to someone who hasn't got the skills buying someone in?

    This applies to setting up or installing any service to enable IT in a school. If it is more effective to get someone else to do it then that is fine. Some of the best IT managers I have come across do very little hands-on now but manage contracts with others instead. It is a slightly different skill-set but is equally as important and effective *when used properly*.

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    Im a primary school tech in two schools, I work 30 hours a week with different time split between the schools,

    At one school i have to ring in contractors to do installs of any nature as I dont have the time to while im there and they wont pay me over time for something I have little knowledge in if they can hire a contractor who knows more than i do and this way ive built up a good rep with the contractors that i will take to other jobs as i move on.

    At the other school I do 95% of the work for installtions etc and only the jobs that may take a few days I might get a contractor in if i havent got the time. This school is quite happy for me to do things i may have little knowledge in so that I learn for future use around the school.

    Im paid much less than a tech in a secondary school and yet i seem to be doing the same job and sometimes more. (had a chat with local secondary school about thier jobs)

  6. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    I do read some condescending things at times on here about people *not* doing their own server installs ... or even building a server ... or building workstations ...
    to continue the theme

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    This applies to setting up or installing any service to enable IT in a school. If it is more effective to get someone else to do it then that is fine. Some of the best IT managers I have come across do very little hands-on now but manage contracts with others instead. It is a slightly different skill-set but is equally as important and effective *when used properly*.
    Hence their support for cloud everything as it is more in their skillset? :P

    Buying in some things is alright but claiming oneself as lord of all knowledge while outsourcing every little thing all while being paid double what I do just winds me up. I have run into more than a few of these people and it is just depressing when the paper pushers poison the well for those who actually know how to do the job directly.

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    I think GD makes a good point. I contracted out the installation of our new WiFi recently (not the technical setup and config of the managed solution, just the physical installation of the APs around the school), not because I can't scrabble around in ceiling ducts myself, but because it isn't a very good use of my time.

    hardtailstar is giving us some very good examples of the fact that there's just as much diversity within primaries as regards their approach to IT as there is in secondaries.

    I imagine that establishing professional standards - along with the support and training for the professionals in order to meet them - would be a good way of raising the accountability of (in this case) IT staff to their individual schools. I'm sure there's other work to be done too on that one though.

  8. Thanks to Ephelyon from:

    hardtailstar (25th June 2012)

  9. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Buying in some things is alright but claiming oneself as lord of all knowledge while outsourcing every little thing all while being paid double what I do just winds me up. I have run into more than a few of these people and it is just depressing when the paper pushers poison the well for those who actually know how to do the job directly.
    If it gives the same or better resources and facilities to the school, costs less overall and is more flexible .. is that a bad thing? And where does that put someone in a larger organisation who doesn't do things hands on anymore but manages those who do? Say, for example, someone working in Service Management ... a service desk team leader?

    If we want an analogy ... take a building site. The Foreman doesn't have to work as a brickie, a chippie, a spark, etc ... but makes sure they do the job. It doesn't mean they can't ... but it is usually a better use of their time if they don't.

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    I guess in schools it's a question of role allocation. In some, like mine, there's no room for a senior technical specialist and a hands-off strategic manager: they have to be the same person (although in fact the Head is the official lead on ICT Strategy at my place and bears the overall responsibility for that).

    The problem is that not all schools recognise which role they need. Some might be employing people who are better suited to the hands-off management role, but without enough technical hands-on staff below them to actually make it work. Or they might be employing technical specialists without the co-ordinating management above, assuming the environment is large enough that this is necessary and appropriate, and instead delegating it to some teacher or other who doesn't really understand the issues at hand.

    I imagine both GrumbleDook and SYNACK are right, but whether or not either approach will work would depend on whether the school deploys its staff effectively - and trains them properly for their roles - and whether Senior Leadership maintains a level of oversight appropriate to the team.

  11. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    If we want an analogy ... take a building site. The Foreman doesn't have to work as a brickie, a chippie, a spark, etc ... but makes sure they do the job. It doesn't mean they can't ... but it is usually a better use of their time if they don't.
    The foreman generally knows most of what is required at least to a certain degree. It just keeps reassuring me that IT is a bad place to be as is anywhere where you actually do stuff directly. All the money, power and respect is saved for those who tell others what to do and the least respected most thankless position is the one who actually does the work. Government, banking sector, middle managment, most of it seems to be about making up work, upointing it is the height of value and then devaluing all those who do the actual jobs so that their pay and respect can be vacumed up into ever increasing levels of managers for managers all in a race to make up enough work and paperwork to justify their positions.

    I admit that I am very cynical but there is more than a little truth in the above which would take quite a dose of denial to deny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    I was talking from my own experience. I'm part-time [15 hours] and my original job spec said I was supposed to be doing infrastructure installs [not qualified], software package building [not experienced] and various other things I've never done before.

    Also, the choice to pass it over to external companies wasn't mine to make.
    Goodness, this just shows that the employers have no idea of how much time, effort and expertise these things take.
    I've been lucky, I suppose, that my employers don't really know what the job entails.

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    This is lucky for some and unlucky for others; one of the downsides can be that, because they don't realise just how complicated, demanding and responsible your job is, they don't pay you enough for it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    This is lucky for some and unlucky for others; one of the downsides can be that, because they don't realise just how complicated, demanding and responsible your job is, they don't pay you enough for it!
    Like most things, it's all about communication.

    They say what they want/expect you to do. You say what training/equipment you want/need to do it.

    If training can't be provided, do what I do. Shadow contractors and "supervise". [make a mental note of what they're doing, write it down as soon as you can and double check online later.]

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post

    If training can't be provided, do what I do. Shadow contractors and "supervise". [make a mental note of what they're doing, write it down as soon as you can and double check online later.]
    Oh I do, I do. But as I have two jobs every day, inevitably I have to leave and miss some vital bit of information! My local contractor and I have a really good relationship and the techs are very happy to let me follow what they do and they even stop and give me time to write it all down!

  16. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by X-13 View Post
    I'm part-time [15 hours] and my original job spec said I was supposed to be doing infrastructure installs [not qualified], software package building [not experienced] and various other things I've never done before.
    Gulp! On 15 hours a week???! We definitely need a professional body!

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