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General Chat Thread, 'Long summer holidays should end' in General; Originally Posted by Sirbendy No, I do realise that. However, "major works" that take down the network could be scheduled ...
  1. #16

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirbendy View Post
    No, I do realise that. However, "major works" that take down the network could be scheduled for after hours instead of a 6 week break. God knows, in previous jobs myself an NM have pulled plenty of late nights. We had all of our UPS replaced a few weeks back, by MGE on behalf of the LEA..they were in from 7pm-midnight.

    Of course, schools would have to be willing to pay for the service..but there are alternatives. We will be reimaging all our machinery - we could just as easily done it after hours, but opted to wait until summer. The virtualisation project - it's being run parallel to the existing infrastructure it seems..there are ways and means.

    Of course, when we're running our own network in 12 months or so, I may feel different. However, right now I do feel the 6 week break is a bit long.
    You are looking at this from only a IT point of view. Last summer, we had 6 class-rooms being refurbished, and all our pathways being re-concreted (they are outside the entrance to every classroom), amongst other very noisy and messy things. If that 6 weeks weren't available, it would have meant that the work would have had to have been chopped up into smaller chunks, therefore increasing the time taken to do each aspect and increasing the cost.

    Then look at the tasks I did last summer, from a purely IT point of view. In 5 of the 6 weeks, I installed a new phone system, refurbished 3 IT suites, replaced 14 switches, installed several servers, and had various other smaller things done. If this had been done during term time, there would definitely have been disruption to T&L and it would have taken a lot longer, and cost a lot lot more (our network cabling provider is based in yorkshire, so they have to stay over night - they had to stay for 2 weeks as it was, they'd have been down here for over a month if they worked over night, and they would most definitely have cost a lot more).
    Last edited by localzuk; 25th May 2008 at 05:24 PM.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirbendy View Post
    Schools can exist quite happily without IT, but staff have forgotten that fact.
    Try telling that to a jobsworth ICT teacher

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    You are looking at this from only a IT point of view. Last summer, we had 6 class-rooms being refurbished, and all our pathways being re-concreted (they are outside the entrance to every classroom), amongst other very noisy and messy things. If that 6 weeks weren't available, it would have meant that the work would have had to have been chopped up into smaller chunks, therefore increasing the time taken to do each aspect and increasing the cost.
    Which is what happens in other sectors ... it gets broken down to manageable size chunk or alternative provision is made available. There are few sectors out there that do not experience this style of change. If you take other public sectors such as councils or hospitals, then yes .. the work is broken down to fit around the needs of the clients / users / patients / public. Education has been very lucky to get away with it all too much. People are also forgetting about the drive over the last few years for the schools to be extended into the community. Lessons may be over but facilities are still in use.

    Then look at the tasks I did last summer, from a purely IT point of view. In 5 of the 6 weeks, I installed a new phone system, refurbished 3 IT suites, replaced 14 switches, installed several servers, and had various other smaller things done. If this had been done during term time, there would definitely have been disruption to T&L and it would have taken a lot longer, and cost a lot lot more (our network cabling provider is based in Yorkshire, so they have to stay over night - they had to stay for 2 weeks as it was, they'd have been down here for over a month if they worked over night, and they would most definitely have cost a lot more).
    Few other sectors replace this amount of kit at once. They plan it in stages to have least impact. Kit will be unboxed, asset tagged, tested, configured and put into location prior to installation. For network hardware this can be fairly straight forward with an evening of work completed quite easily ... for cabling and having to take a room out of action whilst it is done .. yes, we have done this during term time and done it in phases. It did mean that we used a firm that would start later due to traveling and finish a bit earlier but the work got done in about the same amount of time as during holiday time actually. Only one room out of action at a time and the last thing each day was a check to make sure that there would be nothing to disrupt them the next day and that they would not be disrupting things the next day.

    It meant we could get 2 more rooms in action 4 months earlier than planned.

    The difficult bit is changing the mindset of senior manglement for them to understand the amount of planning and preparation that is needed for this. Gantt charts impress us, as do contingency plans ... but no matter how much this increases the difficulty for *you* as a Network Manager, there is a growing body of evidence that the 4 week summer benefits students, in their learning and in their behaviour. The think-tank did not just pick the idea out of thin air ... it has been over 10 years involved in these studies ... a long enough period to say it can make a sizable contribution to the good results and good behaviour in schools that operate this way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oops_my_bad View Post
    Try telling that to a jobsworth ICT teacher
    This is bordering on trolling ... but to give you the benefit of the doubt, even though you want to drag this into a different thread, I am sure that you would be equally happy to have to go to hospital only to find they close it down for 6 weeks during the summer ... so that operation on your knee to fix the cartilage and has meant that you should start you rehab after 4 weeks ... your not important ... surely you can wait another two to four weeks, in spite of evidence being available to show that it is more beneficial for you to start your rehab after 4 weeks?!?

    And I am sure that when a doctor complains that this is terrible that patients would be treated like this ... you will turn round and call him a jobsworth.

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    Not sure why this is being talked about as a "new thing" - it's 10 years since I quit teaching but the idea of changing the school year had been discussed many times before that.

    there are arguments for and against and these can be made from the point of view of families, teaching/learning and just managing the workings of the school.

    It often seems easier to go for a "big bang" changeover of things (eg re-imaging everything in the summer) but there are ways round this and they can work ust as well without being more difficult.

    We used to have an almost total close down during the summer and we'd replaced 200-250 PCs in an IT suite in a single hit. We no longer do this for a variety of reasons but it actually makes everything easier. I suspect suppliers would prefer it as well - instead of every school wanting lorry loads of computers delivering at the end of July, they want them delivered regularly throughout the year.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    You are looking at this from only a IT point of view. Last summer, we had 6 class-rooms being refurbished, and all our pathways being re-concreted (they are outside the entrance to every classroom), amongst other very noisy and messy things. If that 6 weeks weren't available, it would have meant that the work would have had to have been chopped up into smaller chunks, therefore increasing the time taken to do each aspect and increasing the cost.

    Then look at the tasks I did last summer, from a purely IT point of view. In 5 of the 6 weeks, I installed a new phone system, refurbished 3 IT suites, replaced 14 switches, installed several servers, and had various other smaller things done. If this had been done during term time, there would definitely have been disruption to T&L and it would have taken a lot longer, and cost a lot lot more (our network cabling provider is based in yorkshire, so they have to stay over night - they had to stay for 2 weeks as it was, they'd have been down here for over a month if they worked over night, and they would most definitely have cost a lot more).
    Oh no, I agree - don't think I don't.. However, we lost our PABX system a few years back, and for over a month we had mobiles while a VoIP system was established. Inconvenient, but survivable.

    Steve and I project managed construction/refurb of 2 IT suites and our offices during the course of a term - there was no real disruption to anyone else. We just shut the rooms off, and gutted it, then had the building firms in to refit, network and power it all out during the day - no complaints from anywhere. In fact, come to think of it...all of our IT suites have been constructed during the course of a "normal" term, in the 9am-whatever time range..it's never disrupted T&L..

    About the only bits that happened in regard to the suites in holiday time was the delivery of the machines..

    Repaving and general site work..6 weeks is useful, but again, it's not something we as a school tend to do..it gets done when it needs it doing..we had all the corridor internal flooring torn out and replaced with that "swimming pool" style plastic mat material..done during the evenings, and in parts where possible, in the day. Painting gets done after 4pm, most things get done in "quieter times"..we had the theatre lighting replaced (BIG job) over the course of a week last term..cherrypicker in there and all.

    They'll be back next week to replace the expired projector in there - it's not a holiday specialty..it's just that it broke on thursday, in time for a break.

    We even converted the old 6th form block into the new reception/heads office/admin office etc in term time..although thankfully it was pre-networked. Just a case of installing switches, some fibre, the machinery and the phones. Being in there until 8pm one night trying to figure out how the hell to move a videophone is a particularly vivid memory of that..

    As to adding servers/taking them down..no, that's an "as and when" as well..we just send out the mail beforehand notifying of downtime, and do it..all auxilliary servers though - LEA run the big ones for now, but even then if they go wrong, we'll take them off and do what needs doing..staff work around us, not the other way round.

    This is one of the things I'm looking forward to after virtualising them...if it goes wrong, take it down, bring up a second copy in minutes. If we want to test something, just create a copy, modify it, shut the orginal down and bring up the test one. It'll be much nicer.

    The 6 week break's biggest hassle for us is ALWAYS the bloody timetable...because it ALWAYS gets lumped on us, even though it's not our issue. Apart from that, we only ever run maintenance and smartboard/projector installs...and that's if we can't just nick a classroom for the day and relocate the class.

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    This is bordering on trolling ... but to give you the benefit of the doubt, even though you want to drag this into a different thread, I am sure that you would be equally happy to have to go to hospital only to find they close it down for 6 weeks during the summer ... so that operation on your knee to fix the cartilage and has meant that you should start you rehab after 4 weeks ... your not important ... surely you can wait another two to four weeks, in spite of evidence being available to show that it is more beneficial for you to start your rehab after 4 weeks?!?

    And I am sure that when a doctor complains that this is terrible that patients would be treated like this ... you will turn round and call him a jobsworth.
    that's a pretty poor analogy tony....you can't equate a 24/7 operation like the nhs to a schoolteacher needing IT access over the summer.

    also since when does the nhs need to be closed for people to have to wait weeks and sometimes months for non-emergency operations. Most nhs patients get the impression they or they're problems aren't very important.

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    No ... a pretty good analogy when you consider that the Physio department is a section of the hospital ... in reality the hospital will have some areas open but not the ones you want ... the aim of the analogy was to point out that if a Doctor complains he cannot treat patients is he going to be called a jobsworth?

    If you want I can change the analogy to a garage ... and someone needs a fleet of cars servicing but they can't do it because they are closed for 6 weeks ... and one of the mechanics complains ... only to be called a jobsworth.

    You can put it so many different ways, but to call someone a jobsworth for wanting to do there job when someone else has cocked up or changed the rules is not on.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Which is what happens in other sectors ... it gets broken down to manageable size chunk or alternative provision is made available. There are few sectors out there that do not experience this style of change. If you take other public sectors such as councils or hospitals, then yes .. the work is broken down to fit around the needs of the clients / users / patients / public. Education has been very lucky to get away with it all too much. People are also forgetting about the drive over the last few years for the schools to be extended into the community. Lessons may be over but facilities are still in use.
    But as I said, the extra money required to do this would be huge, and funding in schools is already tight as it is.

    I don't deny it could be done, I'm saying that the disruption, and the fact that it would cost more is more damaging to the T&L than having 6 weeks at summer. Having to double the cost of our projects last summer would have used as much money as hiring 3 more teachers...

    The difficult bit is changing the mindset of senior manglement for them to understand the amount of planning and preparation that is needed for this. Gantt charts impress us, as do contingency plans ... but no matter how much this increases the difficulty for *you* as a Network Manager, there is a growing body of evidence that the 4 week summer benefits students, in their learning and in their behaviour. The think-tank did not just pick the idea out of thin air ... it has been over 10 years involved in these studies ... a long enough period to say it can make a sizable contribution to the good results and good behaviour in schools that operate this way.
    I question this. As I pointed out earlier, we are not the only country which has a long summer holiday. We don't even have the longest summer holiday. Why would changing the holiday over here be so advantageous? When you look at these other countries, like Finland, surely the evidence points to:

    • Starting at a later age
    • Being more focussed on family care
    • Spending more time *out* of school
    • Having a focus on helping society (I think it was Sweden which has a 1 day a week day of community service for school children of a certain age)
    • Less focus on statistics and more on actually doing the best for each kid
    • Smaller schools
    • Smaller class sizes


    I agree with your earlier argument that more holiday throughout the year is a good thing, just not at the expense of losing the summer holiday length that we already have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    No ... a pretty good analogy when you consider that the Physio department is a section of the hospital ... in reality the hospital will have some areas open but not the ones you want ... the aim of the analogy was to point out that if a Doctor complains he cannot treat patients is he going to be called a jobsworth?

    If you want I can change the analogy to a garage ... and someone needs a fleet of cars servicing but they can't do it because they are closed for 6 weeks ... and one of the mechanics complains ... only to be called a jobsworth.

    You can put it so many different ways, but to call someone a jobsworth for wanting to do there job when someone else has cocked up or changed the rules is not on.
    fair enough. i certianly wouldn't want to be berating someone for wanting to do they're job however arsey they can be about it....and we know how arsey teachers can be (i'm aware of how that sounds but.... what the hell). But to be fair to them thery're allowed to feel that way to an extent if someone has moved the goalposts.

    i think the idea of spreading the holidays equally over the year is not a bad idea....but i got the impression from the article they were advocating reducing the summer holidays without moving the lost weeks to another time in the year...i think kids need a 3 month break from school.

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    As a parent, 6 weeks is far too long to try and occupy kids over the summer - at least not without financial ruin!!!
    As a Tech, 6 weeks is great.

    I agree with others that a good option would be to reduce the holiday from 6 to 4 weeks and then up some of the other hols to 2 weeks.

    As for carrying work out during term time, especially at evenings and nights, I think that this is a workable solution, however what has not been taken into account is the fact that there are a lot of us out here who are on our own or have limited support.....what would take priority, support during the day or the upgrade at night? Or, as I suspect would happen, work 18 to 20 hour days until it was finished with, if we were lucky, a flat rate of overtime!!!
    Before anybody says anything, I know that this is an issue for the school to resolve, but in this time of penny-pinching what is the logical option!?!

    Just to add another cat to the pigeons, if we were to carry out a lot of the work during term time would we be needed on a fulltime contract? Or would they be reduced to term time plus 2 weeks etc?

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