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General Chat Thread, Becta in General; As you can see, I'm new in this forum but I've already noticed a few people ranting about Becta. I ...
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    Becta

    As you can see, I'm new in this forum but I've already noticed a few people ranting about Becta.

    I really cannot fault the recently published IT Technical specification (management just ignore the bits they don't like eg ODF).
    Becta's studies on Open Source software and lock-in seem perfectly reasonable and by starting to follow their recommendations on FITS we have already seen a marked improvement in our department.
    There is some quality information on their site, although they do seem to skirt the major issue of staff ICT training (lack of)

    I'd like to know your experiences with Becta and why they get so much stick around here?

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Re: Becta

    we do give them stick but in a fun way mainly

    we do have a good relationship with becta in fact one of us works for them and various member attend various becta briefings and meetings...

    The thing we give most of stick is website and if talk to becta themselves they agree website needs bit of overhaul (which they are doing)....

    yes and think fits was turning point for becta as it moved away from teacher centric point of view to learning point of view which means that have released that to improve learning you have to improve technology and technology processes as well..

    Yes there it spec is good and fits again is good....

    As for ict training they are working on it me and tony went to meeting just before Christmas which is basicly looking at a national qualfication for ict support in education that will hopefuly link into existing structures such as cisco qualification but linking into fits etc

    Also to degree that is where we are coming in we have discussed with sst some kind of national database of courses for ict support staff in education ...

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    I believe BECTA is out of touch with the real world and is primarily driven by intellectual snobbery.

    BECTA's "accredited" suppliers are primarily chosen by their financial muscle, as oposed to actual ability to do the job at best value. By doing so they create a very difficult playing field for thousands of smaller vendors that at times can be far more innovative and quick to respond to a need.

    BECTA praises schools that have gone through implementations done by large suppliers (think RM, Viglen or Ramesys) but hardly ever trumpets innovations delivered by people like us. In fact, excepting their FITS documentation (that incidentally is merely an adaptation of the ITIL Library) they don't often mention anybody in schools, other than teachers.

    BECTA delivers edicts from its ivory tower, but rarely consults with people on the ground.

    What would happen if BECTA ceased to exist all of a sudden? Well, in my world absolutely nothing. BECTA is part of the entire ICT-soft-and-fluffy-thingy, while I work to deliver real-world IT to an educational environment.

    Actually I'm opposed to the idea of "educational ict training". Why? Simple - ICT as delivered as a subject is primarily a complete and absolute waste of time. We take three years to teach kids how to use MS Office, and perhaps a few other applications. In India, South Africa and elsewhere they teach students the same or higher level of Office expertise in around two weeks or less, on a MOUS course.
    A BECTA ICT Techy course will be just as watered down at ICT GCSE's. The thing with qualifications is that the harder they become to achieve the more valuable they become, and vice versa.

    I strongly believe Education should realise it's primary purpose is to train a future workforce. That is the only way to keep any country economically viable. We won't achieve that while Education believes itself to be above Industry. Education should work FOR Industry and not the other way round.

    That means our subjects should be alligned with what Industry needs and our IT Support should be delivered along accepted examples of good practice in Industry.

    BECTA should be taking the lead in all this, but instead seems to puff itself up with even more intellectual snobbery and trying to stand even higher above anything and everything else. And how does that help our students?

    At the end of the day what matters most is delivering teaching and learning of value, which I'm afraid we don't exactly do at the moment. This is why adult illiteracy levels in the UK compete with those of many third world nations.

    Time to wake up and smell the coffee!

  4. 2 Thanks to Tamarside:

    bossman (6th January 2009), broc (12th January 2009)

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    webman's Avatar
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  6. Thanks to webman from:

    Oops_my_bad (6th January 2009)

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    I disagree nearly in the entirety with your post. Education is *not* there to help 'industry'. It is there to teach people the basic skills for all aspects of life. It is also about teaching them to think for themselves, and learning how to learn. If you start 'teaching for industry', what do you mean by that? Which industry? Service industry? Manufacturing? High Tech? etc... Vocational education, post 16 (and now with some of these diplomas) is there for that.

    Becta provide a valuable service IMO. Their recommended suppliers lists help a lot, as financial stability is hugely important too - far too often it seems to happen that small companies go bust etc... (Bullet point for example). But at the same time, it doesn't mean you instantly have to go buying everything from RM.

    The only part of it I agree with is that ICT as a discreet subject is a waste of time as it's taught at the moment. Spending 6 weeks teaching how to use spreadsheets is silly.

    (PS. Please don't dig up old posts... :P)

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    AyatollahPies's Avatar
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    Wow, a thread resurrected after nigh on 3 years. Someone's bored!

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    No, actually someone was annoyed with comments made by a certain chief of Becta in the latest GC magazine, then when trying to start a new thread I spotted this one and thought I'd rather continue with it.

    What's the big deal with posting to an old thread? Would you rather people don't? Then change the forum's suggestions.

    As for disagreeing with me, localzuk, you're entitled to your own opinion, of course, but I feel you're twisting my words somewhat.

    I stand by what I said - Education is there to train a workforce. No, not with all the detailed skills they may need in any given job, but rather a firm foundation upon which to build and extend those skills. This is why it is a GOOD thing to teach drama, as sometimes it'd be the ONLY chance some students will have to behave outside of stereotypical patterns of behaviour.
    It is GOOD to teach MFL as it broadens students' horizons.

    And above all else it is GOOD to teach them to read and write, and do maths reasonably well. These are skills needed by a workforce.

    If you're saying Education is simply about teaching them life skills, what exactly does that mean?

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Someone doesn't like Becta. Still.... nothing changed.... at least from what I can see.

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    Lol!! Aaahhhh...clearly they haven't been very effective at all then!

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    financial stability is hugely important too - far too often it seems to happen that small companies go bust etc... (Bullet point for example).
    Non issue as any good company will provide goods/services to schools under (eg) 30 days payment terms.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oops_my_bad View Post
    Non issue as any good company will provide goods/services to schools under (eg) 30 days payment terms.
    Huh? So when the company goes bust, and there isn't a warranty any more, that doesn't matter? That's my point regarding financial stability. Payment terms are not an issue.

    And life skills are things about living life. We only spend 8 hours a day working, why should our lives be aimed at catering to that third? Ok, another 8 hours is sleep, but the remaining 8 hours is eating, entertaining, buying, travelling, living. There are skills there that wouldn't be taught if it was 'training a workforce' - for example, cookery.

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    Unless that workforce would be in the catering business

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    New materials are being written for FITS but I don't have a date for them being ready at the moment.

    Many people (teachers and students) had found that IT was kept as a black art, with little or no accountability and in the control of a single person in the school.

    If we go back to business terms then this does not allow for detailed analysis of ROI. In schools this is hard enough to do with IT anyway and so measurement has to be changed to what can be quantified ... progress of students. The failure is that many teachers don't think that IT staff can have an input into that and yes, this can be reflected in what BECTA publishes ... the problem has been when Becta try and get support staff to get involved in things it gets blocked by the schools (can't release their precious staff!), lack of interest by the support staff themselves or simply finding that there are not enough staff in schools who understand both the techncial and educational side of the school enough to see where things fit in.

    Let's face it ... a lot of the regulars on here are the exception. We are vocal and will get out to things and try to get our point across, but let's face it ... if you were a Govt group putting together advice who would you want to talk with? A techie from a school that is satisfactory and has to struggle on their own to make even the slightest change or a Director of Technology from a school that is Outstanding and is taking over another failing school when you want to find out about making IT successful? When Becta (or other groups) stick things down on paper they want to back it up with successes.

    Still, they have gone round and done done audits of schools to get feedback on how schools operate and this does feed into things ... but they are also tied in with the direction the Govt is going with BSF.

    Have a look at the Harnessing Technology stuff ... value for money is key thing ... and the lack of planning that schools have done for sustainable IT over the years has meant that someone centrally has to take control. This screws up a number of schools but till help others ... but we have had this conversation before on here and so far we only have one school that has been able to take control for themselves.

    If you think that support staff are not consulted enough, shown to have a valued role in the school, are ignored or their knowledge /experience demeaned ... then tell Becta that. It is called constructive criticism and it has been shown to work (hey ... didn't Becta use to use Google to search their own site until someone made a joke out of it?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Huh? So when the company goes bust, and there isn't a warranty any more, that doesn't matter? That's my point regarding financial stability. Payment terms are not an issue.

    And life skills are things about living life. We only spend 8 hours a day working, why should our lives be aimed at catering to that third? Ok, another 8 hours is sleep, but the remaining 8 hours is eating, entertaining, buying, travelling, living. There are skills there that wouldn't be taught if it was 'training a workforce' - for example, cookery.
    You get eight hours sleep? Oh to have that much free time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamarside View Post
    BECTA's "accredited" suppliers are primarily chosen by their financial muscle, as oposed to actual ability to do the job at best value.
    As well as the amount of backhanders the company gave to BECTA, no doubt

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