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General Chat Thread, Supporting Primaries in General; ...
  1. #1
    KWestos's Avatar
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    Supporting Primaries

    I am A ICT Network Manager at a Secondary school and have been asked to chat with a couple of Heads from local Primaries. Basically what they are proposing is that we take on their ICT support.

    At the moment, each school pays around £2000 a year for a local guy to provide them with 1 (yes one) hours support a week. They currently write their support requests in a book and when he comes in, he attempts to deal with them all.

    Now if we were to take their ICT function on, there's no way I could absorb this level of work with my current Technicians. What I hope is that more Primaries come on board which would enable us to acquire an extra technician to service these Primaries.

    Now what I want to know from you good people is:

    1. Is this a good idea or will I regret it?
    2. Will the workload be too much?
    3. If anyone has such a system in place, how is it going and do you have an example SLA I could look at?
    4.

    Now I'm quite a realistic guy and know the workload may be high (depends on the SLA) but I can see the advantages for both them and us, i.e. economies of scale for purchases etc, variety in the day job, getting out and about, better structure within the team and more ICT support for our school.

    If this comes off I would like to forge better links with these schools and bus them in to use our facilities and broadcast lessons into their classes etc.

  2. #2

    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    I can see this sort of thing working. In this area many of the local primaries use a shared tech, getting his services for a half-day or whole day depending on need. He charges hourly. Business has boomed for him and he's now got techs working for him. (We use him occasionally too )

    Once the message gets out in the cluster about the service you offer, you'll get business no problem!

    The initial workload will probably be quite high at first as you get their networks working to your standards. Once you've got remote access established, things will be easier. If they are used to waiting for a weekly visit and don't expect that to change, you'll be OK.

    I cannot see how you can do it without increasing the cost to the schools. £2000 won't go far, but I don't know how far their budgets will stretch. The reason they only have 1 hour a week at present is because that is all they were willing to spend... I wouldn't expect the budgetary constraints to lift much.

    Primaries have a different mindset to secondaries... the stresses and strains on the machines are less about hacking the network and proxy servers and more about lego-extraction!

  3. Thanks to elsiegee40 from:

    KWestos (22nd October 2009)

  4. #3
    bandgeekmafia78's Avatar
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    My old school used to support 9 local primary schools. There were 3 techies at the secondary school who were assigned 3 primary schools each, for 3 hours per school per week. My old school used to do this to finance a 3rd technician and also because it helped towards achieving Technology College status.

    You have to be careful though - from my own experience the primaries can become too demanding and expect you to rush over when something goes wrong. If you want to go down the primary school route I'd suggest setting some firm groundrules first!

  5. #4

    witch's Avatar
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    There are definitely people on here who work for senior schools and are out and about in the local primaries.
    I would have thought it was a good idea as long as there is the need locally. Would it just be the feeder schools?You would need to find out first how many schools are in need of that sort of support
    Around here most first (recep-4) and middles (5-8) have a techie already so it wouldn't fly.

    How on earth the schools manage with such a low level of support I can't imagine

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    We have been supporting several feeder primaries for 8 years or so now. We took on an extra person to do it (funded as part of our technology college bid). In the main it worked well in the early years. We provided a set number of hours per week to each of the schools. I also talked to them and advised on strategy etc.

    We've also teamed them up with some of our suppliers so they get similar pricing to us.

    Overall it has been a success but it has also been challenging at times. Some issues we had :-

    1) Staff leaving and being replaced with less experienced staff here. This has meant the more experienced techies are having to go to the primaries until the new staff settle in and grow their skills.

    2) Primaries expecting to be able to phone anytime and get a techie out to them. Despite SLAs they still do it and when they are struggling it's awful hard to say no

    3) The secondary school ICT has grown like mad so we need to spend more and more time on it - this leaves less for the primary schools.

    4) Some schools had us alongside external paid for support - this working relationship can be fractious especially when the external support is doing things in a way you think (know?) is not best practice.

    On the plus side we have rebuilt several schools infrastructure for them and sorted an awful lot of messes out. This has put those schools in an excellent postion IT wise.

    Of course as most of our services were provided free of charge they liked us all the more!

    Personally I feel it's a great thing to do - it strengthens links & ensures schools get quality support and advice from people who have nothing to gain from selling x,y or z product.

  7. #6
    bandgeekmafia78's Avatar
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    JCollings - point 1) is absolutely spot on.

    One problem I found was a lack of consistency when it came to new technicians taking over the support.

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    limbo's Avatar
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    We did exactly this about six years ago - we had five local primary schools each pay one fifth of a technicians salary (including on costs) for one day a week.

    We made it clear that what they were buying was the technicians time, which kept the expectations of the workload reasonable because they knew there was only one day a week in which to do it.

    The plus to them for the service was that the technician did not work in isolation because they had the rest of the team back at our school to fall back on for help, guidance, emergency cover in the event of sickness and extra pairs of hands if needed for bigger jobs.

    Worked well as long as they schools wanted to stay part of the agreement, one school dropping out meant that another school had to be found or a second day sold to one of the existing schools.

    In the end all schools realised the value of having dedicated IT Technicians and took on their own full time staff.

    As always with this kind of service it is only as good as the technician doing the job, but in our case it was a success and built stronger relationships with our feeder schools. It also had the added bonus of the schools ending up with systems closer to ours, which I guess can only aid the transition process for the students.

  9. #8

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Hi,

    We currently offer this to all our feeder schools. Officially they pay into a pot for the High Schools assitance, unofficially I don't think our head goes chasing for the money - He more interested in getting a second specialism as a "community college"

    We have 1.5 techies here for a 800ish pupil high school. The 0.5 tech works 3 days a week to cover when the full-time tech is out visiting the primaries. Each primary gets half a day once a fortnight on a rota'd basis that is agreed with the tech and the primary heads at the start of the school year.

    I agree to extra work and extra days as the primaries require so long as it doesn't interfere with the running of the high school network. We recently spent an extra day at one primary just fixing all the small niggly problems that other whys don't get fixed in the regular half-day visits. For two of the primaries we have spent a week (each) installing new servers and re-configuring the networks.

    Our head is also the head of the local primary so they get extra special attention and extra visits by me and the local infant school is about to get a quote from us to sort out some desktop upgrades.

    We have no SLA - we add to the list as if it was a job request from within the high school.

    My only personal annoyance is that I wish I had 1 full time tech in the high school. I'm the only one here 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. But to be honest, we don't have the workload for the extra 0.5 tech.

    I'll happily answer any questions you have...

  10. #9
    IrritableTech's Avatar
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    We have SLAs with a number of our local schools. Primaries buy anything between 1 hour per week to a whole day per week support from us.

    Generally the relationship works very well and I can echo most things jcollings has said. Except we don't have so many issues with the emergency call outs. We allow for emergency call outs in our SLA. We have made steps over the last couple of years to ensure the primaries are setup in the same way. This means any of our staff can nip down and look at the issue and know where to find things.

    We have one extra technician in the department as a result of our primary work. Although we're currently only out at primaries 4 days a week.

  11. #10

    korifugi's Avatar
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    Right - I'm actually in the position that you are proposing to create...

    I spend one day at each site, and have issues logged on our helpdesk.

    This will form stronger links with the primaries (which are probably going to be feeder schools to a degree), okay this won't actually be why you're doing this but it will come as a by-product.

    In my case - the primaries pay into a 'pot' that is topped up by the secondary to formulate my wages. It'll depend on how you and the primaries in question want to do things as to if your secondary will end up paying a little / gaining a little or breaking even. Plus - it'll give you the chance to ensure the primaries' networks are set up similar to your own, actually making transition from one school to the other for students easier.

    As for amount of work? It depends on the current state of said IT provision in the schools, what plans they have and so forth? (There has been a thread about this stating that it certainly isn't easier - just different, but I'll stay away from that topic to avoid derailment!). As a personal note I also find that if you employ someone to support the primaries then there may be issues if they are ill/on holiday - as you'll need to cover for them (as with limited time at each site means if one visit is missed, issues will continue to build up and workload may well be doubled!)

    I don't know if my tea fuelled ramblings here will help but I hope it'll give you a further insight.

    As has already been said above - I'll also attempt to answer any specific questions about the role if you have any...

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    garoc's Avatar
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    Re: Supporting Primaries

    This is a fantastic idea, particularly as many Primary Schools can ill-afford, let alone realise the need for regular, and timely, efficient/experienced ICT support!

    I currently work part time @ a small Primary as Asst' ICT Coordinator/TA/ICT Tech (lucky them!), having gained a number of years experience in various roles in the industry. Most recently as Mobile Schools ICT Support for our LEA, having as many as 18 primaries under my wing at one stage, each holding various level of SLA (i.e. Bronze, Silver, Gold).

    I can therefore sympathise with Primaries on the need for a good level of ICT Support, as they quite often not only miss out on reliable/experienced support, but also new and emerging technologies, finding themselves way behind the times!

    Such a relationship should benefit all parties, providing you are able to scribe a solid, agreeable SLA agreement that suits all! You could also include, should security policies/set up & maintenance costs allow, some form of remote support inc. a Helpdesk feature.

    I use Spiceworks onsite here (not sure if you can set it up to use multiple remote sites!?!), which has a great helpdesk module, and offers complete inventory managment, reports, and remote connection to clients etc...

    Anyhoot, that's my twopenneth worth, better get back to work, some little mite has just killed the suite printer!!

    ciao 4 now

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    andrew_91090's Avatar
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    well i'm a technician at a secondary second school and we have taken on 5 different primary schools a week for £3000 a year, but we go there for a full morning or afternoon and we only have a network manager and 2 technicians (including me) with the school holding about 800 pupils altogether.

    lucky enough we have built their whole systems, so it's exactly the same as ours, so anything that goes wrong, we know what to do straight away.

    now i've just been talking to a guy from our council, and he's said that there has been a few schools that have taken on way too much and can't handle it, but as i say ours has turned out fine, as long as you know everything about their system, i think you'll be fine.

    Hope this is helpful

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    garoc's Avatar
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    ...oooh, and one other thing....GO PATRIOTS!

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    bandgeekmafia78's Avatar
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    For all those who support primary schools - how much do you charge per annum?

    Sounds like its somewhere between the 2-3K mark.

  16. #15
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    I'm in this very situation, only from the Technicians side. I was employed 6 months ago to look after 6 primary schools. I'm employed by the local seconday school.

    I visit each school one day a week, with the exception being a Junior and Infants which are two seperate schools so, as they are smaller, they get half a day each.

    It works very well in our case. The schools have all their requirements met and the jobs are fixed during each visit. They are happy with this and are happy to be paying the secondary school for this server. Forgive me though, I don't know how much they pay.

    In my case the network manager of the secondary school ( my boss ) doesn't have much to do with it. I pop in to see him every friday to haev a quick chat on how things are etc.. and that's it. I completely manage myself and the schools myself.

    If "emergancies" occur, such as Server not working, no internet, network down etc.. which stops classes from being taught, then I will leave my scheduled school ( providing the ICT co - ordinator at that school is happy with me doing so ) and travel to the other school to fix the " emergency"

    The technician you employ would have to have a sound knowledge of Server, windows, networking, printers, projectors, and anything else with a plug in, if you are wanting to have minimal involement.

    If push comes to shove and i really am stuck I can call on my boss or any of the technicians at the secondary school to ask for advice etc..

    Hope this helps

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