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Educational IT Jobs Thread, Primary sole tech/secondary support tech - which to choose? in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Hello, Would you prefer to be the sole support of several Primaries or a junior tech at a secondary school? ...
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    znova's Avatar
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    Primary sole tech/secondary support tech - which to choose?

    Hello,

    Would you prefer to be the sole support of several Primaries or a junior tech at a secondary school?

    As a part of my degree I have to go on a placement. My choice is either to stay at the school I currently support and add a few feeder schools to my list or to go for a specific placement job at a secondary school. So far in my career I have always done the solitary support and so the secondary schools' job appeals because it might be nice to see things done differently and learn. On the other hand, the Primaries do have an advantage in shorter hours/flexible working time; the secondary placement is pretty much set(full time, doesn't work that well around the kids). Money doesn't come into the equation.

    Which would be better for the experience?

    Bearing in mind when I finish my degree I actually want to do the job I do now - part-time hours just to occupy the brain (and I guess to prove to myself I can do something well) - not a money-spinning career working all hours.

    AAAAAAHHHHHH!

    Which would you rather do and why?

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    Yo I did kinda same thing as you though I had a year out in the 'real world', then worked part time in an Infant and Junior school for a year half in final year of uni and then a few months after. Its nice to be the sole tech, be the person everyone comes to, 'respected', get to make decisions, meet lots of people etc.

    However I made the move to Secondary for lots of reasons and if you want to get more experience and learn more thats your best bet. Also as a team member you can learn of them and experience team working which seems to be so important nowa days.

    IMO you should definitely move to Secondary even if the money is worse and you are at a Junior level, just for the exposure to new things, experience and working within a team. It doesn't have to be for ever either. There is a big difference between levels of schools, no.1 there many times the size.

    What looks better on the CV an admin of St.Clements Juniors with 40 computers or admin of St.Andrews Secondary School with 600 + computers and associated things such as Exchange server etc etc. Anyway you probably get my point.
    Last edited by Jiser; 3rd June 2009 at 11:35 PM.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jiser View Post
    IMO you should definitely move to Secondary even if the money is worse and you are at a Junior level, just for the exposure to new things, experience and working within a team. It doesn't have to be for ever either.
    What looks better on the CV an admin of St.Clements Juniors with 40 computers or admin of St.Andrews Secondary School with 600 + computers and associated things such as Exchange server etc etc. Anyway you probably get my point.

    As the person who took said job after Jiser moved on, I actually agree that exposure in a secondary school would be a good idea if you haven't had that...

    But I DON'T agree about the '40 computers versus 600 computers' argument.

    Yes I only look after 100-odd machines but I am TOTALLY responsible for the network and can put all that experience in my CV. I am currently getting involved with specifying and installing the VLE, as well as deciding what sort of new server I need and how the whole network is to be sorted out in the future.
    I know some secondary school techs who never have any input or involvement in, for example, AD or Group Policy as the more senior members of the team do all that.
    So it all comes down to whether you think you will learn new things and get something out of the move - if you do, then do it - it certainly won't harm your chances of going back to being a primary tech at a later date.
    If you don't or can't due to other commitments, then continue in your current positions but perhaps speak to the techs at the secondary schools in the area - they may be happy to let you come and see how and what they do at a time convenient to you.
    This is how I learn - I have managed, with the help of Edugeek and other contacts, to create a large support network of people who are (bless them) happy to help me and explain things I don't understand
    Last edited by witch; 4th June 2009 at 12:12 AM.

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    You want inspiration look at this link: My First Year In IT - CertForums

    He achieved a hell of allot in a year.

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    Sole tech in a number of primaries can be much more stressful than being part of a team in a Secondary.

    I took a few years to get comfortable enough to expand past my one initial primary and only after a lot of time spent building up experience. Of course this place didn't exist then.

    Overall I think the key thing is that in a primary you will be looking at multiple roles (much the same way teaching is in Primary) from toner changing all the way up to server management, AD maintenance and more. It's quite a baptism of fire plus as it's a placement, there's only so much you can hope to achieve as many things in Primary are long term 3 year+ plans before you see real progress.

    Just some thoughts for you.

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    Yeah, I thought I fancied a bit of a change.

    To be honest I've only just caught up with the backlog of Must-do things as there was a gap between technicians (and the previous tech was a mum of one of the kids in school; the head admitted to me she was not that IT-savvy ). Right now I'm testing some of the group policies (mess, just as well kids didn't find out the things they could do), clearing up the server and next on my to-do-list is some ghosting software. If I am to leave then might as well leave the network in a good shape.

    There are a few secondary placements which are looming but I haven't applied for yet; however, I am now competing for jobs with students who didn't manage to get in anywhere else so might be a bit easier.

    Jiser, money doesn't come into it. In fact I think some of the secondary placements are a bit better paid than what would be the sum of potential Primary jobs. It's just that I don't know if I want to commit to full-time work. I used to do this as a hobby, but it's grown a bit and I miss being a mum! I guess I'm not your typical IT tech.

    Thanks for the input and keep it coming in!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zdenka View Post
    Yeah, I thought I fancied a bit of a change.
    Jiser, money doesn't come into it. In fact I think some of the secondary placements are a bit better paid than what would be the sum of potential Primary jobs. It's just that I don't know if I want to commit to full-time work. I used to do this as a hobby, but it's grown a bit and I miss being a mum! I guess I'm not your typical IT tech.
    You might not be typical but there are some of us on here who work part-time and combine it with childcare(and we are NOT all women!). That is why I suggested staying part-time at a primary but liasing with the local high school so that you can learn more without being committed to full-time work. I don't know how it is where you are, but here the school at the top of each pyramid has a requirement to help those further down. Generally speaking, people like us are a helpful lot!
    Last edited by witch; 4th June 2009 at 09:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jiser View Post
    You want inspiration look at this link: My First Year In IT - CertForums

    He achieved a hell of allot in a year.
    TBH he sounds like a stuck up d*ck, a d*ck that did well but a d*ck all the same

    I knew from the moment I had finished my initial training, that I was different to the normal bread of Helpdesk personnel. Rather than spending my time surfing the web, I had my head in a book reading and learning.
    All helpdesk personnel just surf the web all day ?!?

    P.S posting in my break before you comment!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zdenka View Post
    Yeah, I thought I fancied a bit of a change.

    To be honest I've only just caught up with the backlog of Must-do things as there was a gap between technicians (and the previous tech was a mum of one of the kids in school; the head admitted to me she was not that IT-savvy ). Right now I'm testing some of the group policies (mess, just as well kids didn't find out the things they could do), clearing up the server and next on my to-do-list is some ghosting software. If I am to leave then might as well leave the network in a good shape.

    There are a few secondary placements which are looming but I haven't applied for yet; however, I am now competing for jobs with students who didn't manage to get in anywhere else so might be a bit easier.

    Jiser, money doesn't come into it. In fact I think some of the secondary placements are a bit better paid than what would be the sum of potential Primary jobs. It's just that I don't know if I want to commit to full-time work. I used to do this as a hobby, but it's grown a bit and I miss being a mum! I guess I'm not your typical IT tech.

    Thanks for the input and keep it coming in!
    zdenka, I think witch has said most of it... there are many parents on here working at schools; juggling the kids and our networks... and more mums than you might think! And as witch said, most primary techs are not just mums looking to fill their time. I agree whole-heartedly with her about the experience gained by being the only one in charge of a network. (Not that that's unusual; there is a rumour that witch, chrrb, Andie and I are actually quads living in different parts of the country!)

    I'm in the same boat at my school... on my own, THE tech/network manager/ 'whatever job title happens to suit'... and my network only has 40 PCs (I'm part-time) The problems, decisions and challenges are the same no matter how many machines you have.

    I learn by talking to the network of other techs I know either locally or on edugeek. Like witch, I'm not exactly fresh out of uni and have worked in industry for many years - nights and on-call weren't exactly compatible with my young family which is when I decided that a lifestyle and job change were necessary. If you want to widen your experience, adding schools to your portfolio will do the trick. No two are the same.

    Sometimes, I detect a hint of superiority in one or two of the (usually younger) secondary techs who seem to think that the primary sector is less challenging. It isn't... it's just different! Being in sole charge of one or more small networks gives you the opportunity to do everything on both the hardware and software side; more schools will give you wider experience of different software and hardware. Being part of a team at a secondary can give you all that in one place, but there is the risk of you being restricted in the types of work you do as team-members may tend to specialise in the areas they deal with.

    If you want to learn more about what's going on in your local secondaries, you always have the option of picking up the phone and asking to visit. I'm spending the day at one on Monday, picking brains and generally finding out what they are up to.
    Last edited by elsiegee40; 4th June 2009 at 11:16 AM. Reason: forgot Andie!

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    (Not that that's unusual; there is a rumour that witch, chrrb and I are actually triplets living in different parts of the country!)
    And Andie - don't forget Andie!



    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    Sometimes, I detect a hint of superiority in one or two of the (usually younger) secondary techs who seem to think that the primary sector is less challenging. It isn't... it's just different! Being in sole charge of one or more small networks gives you the opportunity to do everything on both the hardware and software side; more schools will give you wider experience of different software and hardware. Being part of a team at a secondary can give you all that in one place, but there is the risk of you being restricted in the types of work you do as team-members may tend to specialise in the areas they deal with.
    I agree - I do think that sometimes they forget that we have to do everything. My particular problem is that I find it hard to learn without having someone there to go through it with me so that I can ask questions, and I am usually too worried about breaking something to have to much of a fiddle with my system myself. This is why I have tried to forge links with the pyramid schools, and now I have got involved with a local Network Manager's group (set up by Adams_dad) and that will help.
    I am in a somewhat different position as well because one of the schools I work in goes up to Year 8 so I do have involvement with senior school things - in fact the LA deem us a secondary school anyway.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    And Andie - don't forget Andie!
    Whoops - she's been added! Sorry!

    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    My particular problem is that I find it hard to learn without having someone there to go through it with me so that I can ask questions, and I am usually too worried about breaking something to have to much of a fiddle with my system myself.
    Snap... that's where edugeek has been my lifeline. When my local saviours aren't available... there's always someone on here!
    Last edited by elsiegee40; 4th June 2009 at 11:29 AM.

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    Well a visit to a placement officer at uni put a bit of a spanner in the works. Placement has to be full-time for at least 9 months; if I work in school during from Sep to July, they will accept 25 hours a week. Which pretty much rules out the Primaries as I'm not going to be able to get as many hours as that each week ( I work 6 with possible 10 more).

    There is another snag; we have to do a Professional development module during the placement which requires a line manager in the school to set goals for me, monitor progress, meet with uni tutors AND go to a full-day meeting at university. I can just about see how many schools will line up to take me with this baggage! Anyway, Primary school with a line manager?

    AND I read the secondary school placement role descriptions: Maintanance of IT equipment, asset register, lending digital equipment, set it up, blah blah blah - basically general dogsbody not allowed anywhere near their server. Some of the other placements has dissapeared because - surprise surprise - they've taken on this year's placement student full-time and they'll finish their degree part-time.

    Flipping great! Might have to be a general dogsbody for a year because I don't want to throw away 2 years of uni.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about all that - but it would still be worth looking at primaries - I work in two schools for a total of 30 hours. I don't have a line manager at one, but I do at the other, albeit the ICT co-ordinator, and I know that he would be happy to do the goal settings etc, even though he would have to ask me for the details as he isn't tremendously technical!

    Are you doing your degree part-time? - If not, could you? Might take longer but you could work the hours you want.
    Can you manage to work full-time? - I could now but I think my children are older than yours. It would be difficult to do a boring general dogsbody role for more hours than you really want, but I suppose you don't seem to have a lot of options ATM

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    Quote Originally Posted by zdenka View Post
    There is another snag; we have to do a Professional development module during the placement which requires a line manager in the school to set goals for me, monitor progress, meet with uni tutors AND go to a full-day meeting at university. I can just about see how many schools will line up to take me with this baggage!
    Try to find a school that currently takes PGCE students on a regular basis. They will have procedures and people in place to do all that and more due to the PGCE requirements; your requirements will be a little light refreshment for them!

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    Hi Zendka

    If money isn't the issue, then I'd recommend primary working as it is more a vocation than a job.

    The drawback is, that most of your school head teachers will not realise that they need much more support than they are prepared to pay for

    If your are able to be supportive to people who sometimes don't know much about IT and work on a budget of close to zero then its good!

    You can get more involved with teaching children about IT which can be very rewarding.

    Secondary technician work can be very boring if your network manager doesn't give you the freedom to experiment - in primaries, it is the end result that counts and how you get there doesn't normally matter.

    At technician level, if you come to work to do your job and go home then secondary would generally suit you more.

    Working in a good secondary with a good network manager can be very rewarding also.

    regards

    Simon

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