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General Chat Thread, Line management question in General; I was wondering what kind of setup with regards to linemanagement network managers have, and how they go about planning ...
  1. #1

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    Line management question

    I was wondering what kind of setup with regards to linemanagement network managers have, and how they go about planning strategies for thier schools.
    Currently I'm linemanged by my business manager, whos knowledge of ICT could be written on the back of an iPod Shuffle.
    I submitt all plans and startegies to him, and there they stay, thats it... it dosn't go any further!

    I personally think the bids for ICT equipment etc should be put together by the Network manager and someone from the Curriculum for example Head of ICT, the plans then submitted to leaderteam then the bursar can yes or no in terms of money etc.

    Can anyone give me any ideas etc.
    Last edited by banjoman; 21st March 2010 at 04:01 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. #2

    nephilim's Avatar
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    My boss is the ICT coordinator / deputy head / SLG member. We both work toward a common goal...getting the staff upto date with current technologies and get the est equipment we can with the money available.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    I'm line managed by our schools Business Manager. We have semi-regular meeting to discuss most IT issues - although his knoweldge of IT take only half of the back of an iPod shuffle. I keep a spreadsheet with a 5-year budget plan which I update throughout the year as the need arises. The business manager often gets copies of the updates as changes in plans come up in conversation.

    As budget time rolls around again he ties me down to a 'finalised' copy of the spreadsheet he can give to the head. The head then uses the spreadsheet to finalise the budget for the coming year and that is presented to the governors financial commitee. Both the head and the Business Manager are on the commitee and they agree the budget and I'm told (hopefully tomorrow morning) how successful I've been and what exactly I've got available to spend for the next year.

    Then the whole process starts again over the next couple of months as I start updating the spreadsheet with changing plans and costings ready for submission next year.

    I also produce a, less reguarly updated, development plan document that sets out in writing the current state of our ICT provision and where I think we are heading. The Business Manager gets updates to this document which he discusses with the rest of SLT in their meetings.

    The Business Manager often gives me feedback from finance/SLT meetings so I know roughly what direction the school is heading in to help me write up these plans and the spreadsheet.

    At the moment the majority of my budget planning is based around regular refresh cycles and fitting those into the expected budget allocation. I'm not expecting much in the way of money for new, non refresh, equipment. Although there is talk of an extra ICT suite on the horizon which'll have a knock effect to my budget planning if that ever gets the go ahead.

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    dezt's Avatar
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    I'm line managed by the School Business Manager, and like you, I submit a development plan to her each year indicating how we should be progressing with ICT for the coming year. She then makes the decision on whether or not we go ahead with my recommendations. This year for instance, I asked for a new backup solution costing between £4000 - £5000, a D2D2T system, her response was "can we not just backup straight to tape? that amount of money spent with nothing to show for it is a lot of money" You can imagine my frustration, I felt like saying well why don't you just spend it on a new sign outside the school then, but don't come blaming me when we have data loss because I couldn't back it all up.

    After the 1st April my line manager will be changing to the part-time assistant school business manager on wednesday, thursday and friday morning, and the school business manager monday, tuesday and friday afternoon.

  5. #5
    steve's Avatar
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    I'm officially line managed by our principal, however I work more closely with the vice principal. Of the 2 vice principals we have, the one I work with has historically been the more technically minded.

    The vice principal and I develop our ICT plans which are presented to the SMT and governors.

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    I'm line managed by the Head. In terms of IT planning we have an IT strategy group consisting of myself, the head, the head of IT, the finance manager & the curruiculum deputy. I advise on developments I want to make and any staff member can submit an ICT request to us. These are considered and go towards the ICT development plan for the school. The development plan is published along with all the priorities - it's a completely transparent process so it's fair to everyone.

    The Head and I meet fairly frequently to discuss things but largely he's happy for me just to get on with it. I mainly schedule meetings with him if I want to bounce something major around. On the whole it works really well here.

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    I can understand the frustration of people who feel they are managed by someone who doesn't know much about IT but that's always going to be the case - even if you went to some massive company with a huge IT structure, the guy at the top of IT will be reporting to people who don't know anything about IT (CIO reports to board of directors, for example)

    It's up to the IT person to make a good job of explaining what you want to do and why - what are the benefits of spending £x on particular equipment or software; what problems could be caused if the money isn't spent; what alternatives might there be that may cost less (and why are you not recommending them)

    Even if you explain it really well, you still might get what you want (or need) - the business manager (or whoever listens to the case) has to listen to requests for money from everyone else and each of those people will absolutely know that their demand is far more important then everyone else and will do their utmost to persuade the business manager of their case!

    Take @dezt's backup example (and I obviously don't know the details so apologies if this sounds mean; it's not supposed to be!) If I were business manager I would want to know why this is necessary. I would assume that the data is currently being backed up (and if not would probably be getting a P45 ready for someone) so I'd need a good explanation of why this was necessary. Putting my IT hat on, I'd guess it's because the volume of data needing to be backed up has grown over the past year(s) and it now isn't possible to back it all up over night.

    Back with my business manager's hat and IT knowledge written on a corner of an iPod shuffle, I won't know that - all I know is that I've got (say) £100,000 of demands and only £50,000 to spend so half the people are going to be disappointed. The ones that get the money will be the ones that make the clearest case.

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    Currently line-managed by an Assistant Principal. I've been here a year and just submitted the first IT Budget/Strategy document laying out where I see the current problems are, why they're problems and what we're going to need to do over the next 5 years to fix them and move forward.

    Outside of this there's a lot of IT related things that get added to the schools 3yr plan and things that SMT would like doing. Of course it's rare that we actually get consulted on these plans until we see it in print so usually have to go back and look at budgets/plans that had already been made and alter them to suit.

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    dezt's Avatar
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    @srochford you hit the nail on the head, our current backup solution is not capable of backing up all our data, this is why we need a new solution. The school business manager is trying to ask why should we backup to disk first then tape, she wants us to backup straight to tape from all our servers. I understand what you are saying about making a case for the money, but she wants something that she can see everyday rather than something that is essential and doesn't get shown off on open evening.

  10. #10

    maniac's Avatar
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    I gave up making plans, things change so quicky round here they are rarely stuck to!

    I'm line managed by our 'Learning Systems Leader' who is responsible for the curriculum side of all things ICT, as well as assesment etc. etc. Her technical understanding of ICT is reasonble, but the good thing is she always listens to my reccomendations and unless there's a really good reason, tends to back them.

    I'm also grateful that our business manager worked in Industry for a long time, and ran his own businesses for years, so has a good understanding of the need to spend money on essential systems to keep things running smoothly, even if it is a bit of kit which will sit in a cupboard and never be seen. Because we're an academy, we also have sponsors and I'm in touch with the ICT support team in one of them who also read over my recomendations and comment on them - again usually agreeing or making good improvements to them which I normally agree with.
    Last edited by maniac; 21st March 2010 at 08:59 PM.

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Work at three schools, managed by ICTco at each but each works very differently.

    At one school we have a yearly meeting where we assess/review/plan your three year strategy which is then explained to the Head along with our budget proposal. Works really well.

    At another we meet at the start of the year, plan what we want to do then drip feed it to the Head over the year (we have learnt that this is the best approach).

    Third school is kinda go with the flow, plans and strategies and budget proposals don't really do anything, its...interesting

  12. #12
    IanT's Avatar
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    First School was line managed by: Network Manager (many years ago)

    Second School was line managed by: Business Manager

    Current Place: Headteacher

  13. #13

    sparkeh's Avatar
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    I have been thinking about this myself a lot recently.

    I work in primary and in general IT support staff are managed by the ICT co-ordinators. I think that this used to make sense when IT a subject was a lot more discreet and the equipment used a lot more focussed on this.
    In these days of integrating IT in the whole curriculum, I find that being managed by a subject leader can be a barrier to integration. Staff can see me as the "ICT Co-ordinators' guy" whereas I think I should be open to helping all staff with their IT requirements. As everything has to go through the IT co-ordinator (and for various reasons not everyone wants to do that) I believe some good opportunities are lost.

    I have thought about bringing the subject up with the Heads of the various schools that I go to but am not sure how to go about it. I get on really well with my bosses and really don't want any bad feeling. However, I think it would be beneficial to be managed by someone with a whole school overview rather than a subject overview.

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    gibbo_ap's Avatar
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    im line managed by the the assistant head/it manager - exhead of ict. we draw up plans he takes it to the head and we are told yey or ney - lot more than that but too early type

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