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General Chat Thread, Where to start in General; have just taken over as a network manager in a large secondery school about 2 months ago. My back ground ...
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    sammy42's Avatar
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    Where to start

    have just taken over as a network manager in a large secondery school about 2 months ago. My back ground is come from industry and the place is in the dark ages. No policys , no audit carried out for 5 years Good new back bone network but the front machines that the sutdents use are well past there use by date with no direction at all. At the monent the new Head has just appointed a ICT co-ordinator at last a step foward. Basicly i am after some ideas as how to build a plan to take the school foward to replace all the old machines and give the students a better experiance of IT equpment and how to to deal with a technicion who has a iron grip on the whole system. and basicly complains at anything new.

    Any advice or example plans would be appreciated

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    Hightower's Avatar
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    When I started out in IT my boss was in a similar situation. He had a network that was dropping to bits, and a technician who was a nice lad but terrible at his job. He needed to replace the computers, and a rolling 4 year scheme was about 5 years too late! He got a loan from county (well he persuaded the head to get it) to replace all the machines, and the county allowed repayment split over 4 years, so it seemed to the school they weren't pulling it out in a oner. The only thing is, you would have to do the same again in four years time.

    As for the technician, his house burnt down because the weed he was growing in the attic caught fire, so that one kind of worked itself out as he resigned straight after.

    I would carry out a network audit, and highlight areas in terms of timescale i.e.

    Rooms 1, 3 and 4 - Critical (summer holidays)
    Rooms 2 and 5 - In the middle (1 year max)
    Infrastructure - Spot on (6 years possibly)
    Servers - Doing the job (3 years)

    etc etc

    After you have done this you need to undo the belt of your HT and pucker up, as asking for cash in a school is never easy.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    What are your plans for the next 6 weeks? I'd be making an audit a pretty high priority. It's hard to make plans unless you know the true state the network is currently in. From there you can easily build a list of prioritys that can slowly turn into a 3/4/5-year development plan. Then it's a sit down with the boss after Christmas to talk budgets before April hits.

    That is pretty much a summary of what I did here and it sounds like your new school is in the same general state mine was in when I first started.

    Nigh on the first thing I did, and it made one huge difference, was write a new assets database and then wonder around the school logging everything on to it. Do my best to find original purchase date and price details were possible.

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    broc's Avatar
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    You might find something like Open Audit useful; it will gather information about what is installed where, & what spec systems are.

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    I spent the last 18 months putting together plans with my line manager for a continual rolling cycle together with justification for everything. Had the plans read by virtually every level of management at some stage and a week or two ago presented to the whole governing body. Got the go ahead from them for the 5-year plan with budget approval for the 5 years. Nice to think that we're finally being listened to

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    Complete a full audit over the summer and put together a clearly defined 3-5 year development plan with “road map” and estimated costs. Explain why you need these upgrades and what the impact to leaching a learning will be if they are do not commit to the proposals but more importantly the positive outcomes of the upgrades.

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Welcome to education!

    Sounds familiar to when I started. I believe the first thing is to perform a full audit (hardware, software, everything basically) as you can't plan where you want to go without knowing where you are.
    Once you have done this you can prioritise the things that need doing and prepare a costed plan to present to the school leaders. In my experience its better to go in with your own ideas of what is wrong and the possible solutions than just alerting people to problems.

    Don't expect a school to work anything like industry, it was a culture shock for me. I find the wheels of education turn slowly

    On a different note, if you haven't worked in a school before then here are a few of the people to befriend: caretakers and office staff (both these sets of people can make your job very difficult if they are off side), cleaners are handy as well

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    gaz350's Avatar
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    hold ya horses on the IT Audit save that for the summer.

    get ya booty around all the departments and talk to them, see what their needs are, find out what they have problems with. then do your Audit during the holidays.

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    sippo's Avatar
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    I'd echo what others have said. Audit, then timescales in priority order. Obviously an IT suite would take priority over a cluster in a classroom. If the servers need upgrading, do those first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hightower View Post
    I would carry out a network audit, and highlight areas in terms of timescale i.e.

    Rooms 1, 3 and 4 - Critical (summer holidays)
    Rooms 2 and 5 - In the middle (1 year max)
    Infrastructure - Spot on (6 years possibly)
    Servers - Doing the job (3 years)

    etc etc

    After you have done this you need to undo the belt of your HT and pucker up, as asking for cash in a school is never easy.
    Unless you are very lucky, one thing you will learn pretty quickly is that money is almost non-existant. However urgent some machines may need replacing don't expect to be able to correct all the ills straight away.

    It's worth looking and seeing what machines can get buy with a RAM upgrade to make them last a an extra year or two. Can you canablise machines and re-use monitors? Can you prioritise which rooms get upgraded and drip feed the best of their old equipment into other areas of the school. It's also worth, depending on budgets, looking at alternatives when replacing equipment - Thin Clients, Multiseat solutions, VDI's, or fat clients and don't buy new monitors.

    I've been in this role for little over 18mths now and I've re-written the basic development plan nearly a dozen times, mostly due to budget cuts and changing priorities - grrr... Thankfully the basic skelton of the plan as remand solid and it's only been minor changes, so far!

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    Flakes's Avatar
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    I would also recommend that just because you have decided on a 3-5 development plan, dont expect it to be enforced every 3-5years, schools are strange places and I imagine you will struggle to adapt from Industry.

    Schools at the moment are pretty much broke, and will attempt to keep machines as long as possible, for example we are currently running student laptops into there 6th year, even though we have a 4 year development plan. Also remember don't expect the large budgets that you would normally get in industry.

    One last point, you will be expected to do every IT related task under the sun, and this is normally is the reason why schools don't have policy's, audits or documentation, there just isn't time when your asked to do every small task.

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    [QUOTE=tmcd35;541483]It's worth looking and seeing what machines can get buy with a RAM upgrade to make them last a an extra year or two. Can you canablise machines and re-use monitors? Can you prioritise which rooms get upgraded and drip feed the best of their old equipment into other areas of the school. It's also worth, depending on budgets, looking at alternatives when replacing equipment - Thin Clients, Multiseat solutions, VDI's, or fat clients and don't buy new monitors.
    QUOTE]

    Put a call out to local schools for spare kit - it might be old, but newer than the stuff you have got! Private schools are often a good source of stuff!

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    Before investing too much time in developing a robust 'plan', check & see if it is wanted. I learned the hard way at my school that the way I worked in industry (business plans, cost justifications, strategy documents, development plans) didn't work in my school. Documents submitted to my line manager & SMT seldom got read, or if they did there was never any feedback or outcome.....

    I learned that face to face negotiation, lobbying, & a bit of wheeling & dealing were far more successful in moving things forward Prior to BSF coming along & stalling everything for the last 2 years I still produced plans for my own benefit & for the purpose of scheduling work for me & my team, but they were internal to the ICT team.

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    As Broc says - in the majority of schools - edication ain't like industry - it was a big shock to me when I started. Unless you're very lucky, you'll see what the kids & staff do to the kit and understand why your technician has an "iron grip"! You may even come to appreciate it! ;-)

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