On a different but slightly related note, I have this week succeeded in appealing to our LA to upgrade the Network Manager JDQ that I was under from what we call Grade 7 (i.e. SCP 25-29) to Grade 8 (i.e. SCP 29-34). Currently this applies only to me but it may leave room for other NMs in similar situations to have their jobs regraded likewise. Similar moves may also be possible for IT Technician positions (perhaps even in primary schools).
I gather this has not been done before for positions like this. I am reasonably well-versed in the NJC job evaluation scheme as it applies to these roles now, so if anyone is interested, please PM me.
Just found another thread where a teacher made a similar suggestion to what we're trying to get going now, and this was two year ago:
EdWhittaker, about halfway down that page. @EdWhittaker, you are a man of vision!
Maybe we could follow up with the interested parties from this thread to see if any of them got anywhere with this?
While I agree with @EdWhittaker there are a few issues, such as:
1. The IT professional as a whole, at alone the IT Field within education, is still not united.
2. With the Government trying to link teachers pay to performance and to be set at different local levels, setting it for another profession within the education sector could be a non-starter.
There was also talk of
andFirst off you would have stop being a group of 'individuals' and become an organisation that has a mandate to speak for all usersStill the problem is that IT is more or less an unregulated profession, in the recent poll I posted up here on Edugeek, only 28% of people that responded actually are a member of some sort of professional body.pushing for is a nationally recognised qualification specific to your profession
Also as there is no Governing Body, who is to say what set of qualifications should be recognised? Would a degree be mandatory (like other professions like teaching, nursing, law, engineering, etc)? What about certain professional certification (like Comptia, MS, CISCO, etc)? Who should monitor them, especially since they change practically every other year and they have a limited life? Eg old MCSA/MCSE -> MCTS/MCITP -> new MCSA/MCSE and expire/retire every 2-3 years for example.
Teachers have the teacher's number (a licence of sorts), the bare minimum qualifications and the NQT, QTS and SCT (Chartered) status and they are united. What does the IT Profession have?
Is there a Governing body? No, the BCS and the IET are professional bodies and being a member of them are optional not mandatory.
Are there minimum qualifications to work in IT? No
Are there registered and/or chartered statuses? Yes, however how many of us actually go for them?
Don't get me wrong, I want the uprating of all of us in the IT Field in the Education sector, however without a good solid base and everyone (or at least majority) support we might at well be flogging a dead horse.
The IT profession is very diverse, with similar technical positions to be found in all sectors (business, education, healthcare, etc.). Methods and standards for entry and progression within each client sector vary wildly as well. From this point of view, a single set of standards and/or bare minimum qualifications might seem a little inflexible.
On the other hand, there could be an argument for unifying these standards across all client sectors.
It would be easiest, from the point of view of presenting ourselves as a more united front with a set of common standards and career structures, to insist that all IT staff become a licensed member of a professional body. However, that's just not going to fly, and I would probably have been among those resenting such a move if I'd been at the start of my career when it was brought in. This is largely because many of us are (or at least start out) self-taught - myself included in fact - and if this approach were completely unworkable we wouldn't have the IT sector that we have today.
Creating a professional body of our own also seems to be pie-in-the-sky thinking at the moment from my point of view.
It might be possible, though, to work with and feed back to BCS, IET, NAACE and the like about "where we're at" in educational IT at the moment and see what could be done from there. It used to be the case (say 15 years ago) that IT in education was a very different ball game from the kind found in industry, but that gap is closing rapidly. The question is: does BCS know this? Senior leaders often don't seem to know it, the government doesn't seem to know it, even many of our own aren't always aware. So I think that whoever agrees with the above assertion should band together in informing and feeding back to the right people to get the ball rolling.
The approach of coming in on the back of such a movement for all school support staff is a good one in an ideal world, but I can't see it happening as that was essentially what the SSSNB was, and short of making a large and embarrassing U-turn on policy, I can't see the current government being remotely interested in it (they'd just view the letters and evidence submitted as an attempt to breathe new life into something they've already decided they don't like). Presenting them with something that seems a little more fresh might work better from that point of view.
Eg if 28% of us are members of a professional association, chances are then that roughtly 7% belong to the BCS, 7% belong to the IET, 7% belong to NAACE and the other 7% belong to other associations. This would equate to about 1500 IT professionals from the education sector per professional association (basing on 24,605 schools in January 2010) and averaging the amount of IT professionals in education (averaging up to 4 per secondary school and the fact that 4-5 primaries may share 1 tech). Now if the average professional association has about 70k members, a group of 1500 would only be 2% and out of that 2%, how many IT Pros that work in the education sector would actually do anything?
As I think it was GrumbleDook who said, people might start to join up if e.g. BCS announced that they would pursue this goal for us based on that deal: that those who wished for the extra recognition and/or to take the training courses would then become (at least) associate members. Perhaps we could also pitch it to them on the grounds that, while proportionately it may not be very many people, it does pretty much represent an entire client sector's worth of fellow IT professionals (those willing to give it a try anyway, which can be worked on).
I don't mind contacting the BCS with the relevant questions (or maybe GrumbleDook can, I don't mind).
I'm a member of the BCS, a CITP MBCS, however a few of my suggests have not taken off simply due to not enough support or interest. I'm not trying to be negative, I'm being pragmatic.
This is why if a new body was created (like the FITS foundation is trying to do) with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BCS and/or the IET, it would have a bigger impact as most/all members come from the same sector/profession so that issues that relate to our field can be dealt with... However the same issues still apply, the majority will not join a professional association or governing body unless it is mandatory.
Last edited by wagnerk; 10th July 2012 at 08:42 AM. Reason: more info and grammer
I don't think it's necessarily that more of us don't want it, more that so many of us have accepted that it's never going to happen after years of being blatantly passed over and ignored because their schools are run by teachers, for teachers (not that all are, but looking around it seems as if many are). If that changed, the situation might improve.
Perhaps you're right with the FITS/MoU approach; I think it's difficult to say at this stage. Perhaps we could ask for BCS approval and occasional supervision? BCS may well have been involved in the "professionalisation" of a sub-branch before; maybe we could ask them. I think it would be very helpful if you or Tony were able to broach these initial ideas to the BCS, if you're willing. Maybe have somebody senior read both this thread and the poll thread (where some of the discussion has spilled over to) as a start...
I'm not sure the majority wouldn't join if the idea were to be to fight for more recognition for them. There would always be those dissenters who would describe it as pie-in-the-sky thinking, right up to the minute it had any success. The key would be to make such an organisation very accessible to people in our position, which as people in this position ourselves, we ought to be able to collectively work out.
Even though I wouldn't personally be interested at this stage of my career, I think it's good that this pot is getting stirred again. I think most of us can come up with a tale or two about how our employers and other staff seem to view ICT as a necessary evil, and us with the pointy tail and horns, and I'm not convinced that investment in our professional development is high on the list when it comes to budget priorities. But perhaps some of that does stem from apathy, although again I guess that depends on where you see yourself in 5-10 years time and why you want the recognition in the first place. Are we ICT Professionals, or are we ICT Professionals in Education? And is there a difference?
I'll have a word with GrumbleDook and see what we can do.
Ephelyon (2nd February 2013)
While the Education sector is obviously a different working environment to industry, or healthcare, essentially we are all IT professionals to my mind. The client sector we happen to work in is largely (though not totally) irrelevant as far as our skillsets and the way we should be approached and valued are concerned.
Having said that, one reason why education is different is the compression of a number of roles typically found for a similarly-sized organisation in industry into just a few people (or, in my case at the moment, effectively one person with some support from an apprentice just out of training). This is an important difference and should be acknowledged. There is also a very uplifting side to working in education; here I can join the staff choir and help out with the Language Leaders club, i.e. use all sides of myself.
I think schools need to be encouraged to realise that their IT staff actually have their own profession and standards; that IT is its own independent sector, entirely in and of itself, and that their IT staff don't just fit in with the curricular side of their school vision. We can celebrate the positive sides of working in education (recruitment?), while at the same time working on the recognition that our profession is a big boy now and has some standards of its own, which it is not for individual schools (or organisations of any nature) to redefine at whim to suit themselves.
I agree there is a difference, and I agree that one aspect of that difference is that we are expected to carry out a whole variety of roles and functions that might not happen in a similar size company. We have to remain flexible, albeit within a structure - some people see working in ICT/IT in schools as an easy option, but the pressure can be enormous and the expectation out of all proportion.
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