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General Chat Thread, Future of ICT provision/support in schools in General; What is everybody's thought's on the future on ICT within schools over the next 5-10 years. Now that BSF is ...
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    KWestos's Avatar
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    Future of ICT provision/support in schools

    What is everybody's thought's on the future on ICT within schools over the next 5-10 years. Now that BSF is dead and the amalgamation of schools ICT function is no longer being amalgamated, what do people think.

    Personally I still think this will happen as budgets are reduced and rationalisation creeps in. Local councils are streamlining their ICT provision, so I guess it could only be time before schools realise the benefits, albeit financial ones. It's feasible as schools primarily do the same thing across the board with incredibly similar software, etc.

    What's peoples opinion on this?

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    I can see this going a few ways, in my opinion I can see the complete ICT budgets of all schools within an LA being "top sliced" from the LA,

    Onsite engineers would become part of a bigger LA ICT Support "umbrella", sharing resources between one another, better comms between schools.

    Then again I can see 90% of schools becoming academys becuase of financial pressure and not having a need for a LA's. Who knows

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    Surely depends on the LEA? Ours is slowly giving more and more control back to the schools, whilst maintaining its support. For example, schools will be expected to start buying in their own broadband next year, which has always been provided by the county council since I've been here. I think the cutting of Harnessing Technology, and the lack of replacement, has effectively cut the LEA funding for expanding ICT services, or at least, it has around here, in my opinion.

    It could well be that partnerships of schools might be the way forward, schools pooling together their resources, which might mean that a secondary schools ICT support staff help out the primary school instead of a private firm. Or the reverse of course...

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    The idea of LAs taking more control is exceedingly unlikely without agreement of a large number of schools (who are happy to sign on the dotted line for several years for the service!)

    With more schools becoming academies you will find that they will suddenly find that some of the extra money they have now (or shortly) will not be there in the future and the costs of services they pick up from places other than the LA (and even those from the LA) are likely to go up in cost and/or come down in quality ... so they will start banding together ... and forming partnerships.

    Those in Academy groups already are examples of where you can still get economies of scale ... so instead of the LA being the central group for education and services, Academy groups or commercial partners running Academies will take on that roll instead. This may or may not be on a profit making basis in the future.

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    KWestos's Avatar
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    I was possibly thinking along the lines of one Network Manager/Director to help the schools (reduce the overlap) with all their development plans, project planning, etc etc. And each school has their technicians to support and run the networks. I would hazard a guess that most schools run 80%+ Windows and office (which accounts for most of their needs). As long as each school has decent support with Technicians (senior and low level) reductions could be made. There could be a floating ICT co-ordinator to a group of schools say???

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    maniac's Avatar
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    I could see more and more schools combining together to share technical and other support staff like Grounds people, maintenance people etc. to make it more affordable.

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    There needs to be some collaboration. For years we've been asking our LEA to take the lead in getting us bulk discounts for stuff but nothing has ever come of it. We've had more success arranging things ourselves between network managers of the 15 secondary schools in the borough.

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    KWestos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibbo View Post
    We've had more success arranging things ourselves between network managers of the 15 secondary schools in the borough.
    That's exactly what I'm talking about. If these 15 schools had ONE Director and ONE Network manager between them (for example). And all the schools had their dedicated Technicians to manage their network, etc, economies could be met. Whether this would be centrally hosted is another issue. But the people needed for these 15 schools could be cut possibly as the knowledge needed in each school is replicated 15 times in a short geographical area. Which in reality could be managed more effectively

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    The problem with the idea of getting discounts on bulk purchases ... there has been some serious issues with limit of purchases before going out to tender and then to EU procurement. You can find that should an Academy group or LA try this, then the legal and procurement costs are more than the discount they get.

    The best that you can manage it to help arrange competitive negotiations without excluding any particular supplier ... and even then you are skirting what you can and can't do.

    The best way I've seen is the word of mouth pressure that some schools can put on suppliers to ensure best prices, and the schools *will* compare prices to make sure they are getting the same deals as others are.

    Regular meetings of schools and companies which support schools is a good thing, and these need to be taken on by the groups of schools where they can (and yes, I do work for an LA!)

    If there is anyone who runs such a group could you DM me your details as there is some work going on to try and get resources and ideas shared between those running such groups, over and above anything happening on EG or other areas.

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    let assume this for one second :-

    The LA has a datacentre, VDI workstations, virtualized servers, for all schools it governs, its managed, has all software you need, all support included.
    It will be top sliced form your ICT budget say x per user

    Would you go for it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by andydis View Post
    let assume this for one second :-

    The LA has a datacentre, VDI workstations, virtualized servers, for all schools it governs, its managed, has all software you need, all support included.
    It will be top sliced form your ICT budget say x per user

    Would you go for it?
    If it makes economic sense, yes!

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    We are looking at being an academy. To be honest although we are told that this will mean more monney, I see dark times ahead and a lot of heartache.
    From what I have heard of others in the academy already, they have basically had what I suspect BSF would do. I.E. rip it all out and you will do it our way.
    Thats fine for a school with a poor ICT subsystem, but we have quite a new and good system thanks. So is all my work of the last fours years going to be ripped out? Am I even going to be here?
    And what will the academy actually provide?
    Why does this sound like a dif version of BSF?
    Alan

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    Yep, I can see it going a few ways depending on external factors.
    1) Working in education gets less and less attractive for IT specialists (due to cuts, more demand for less benefits, lack of support, harder to staff departments, etc) so we start backsliding to enthusiastic volunteers or external companies.
    2) With schools becoming academies IT fragments and you end up with pockets of excellence, where you have a good lead character & an IT team to back it up, while others struggle and make do either through lack of vision, drive, lead, budget or ideas.
    3) Schools band together to form collectives, sharing ideas, buying power maybe sharing IT teams.
    4) It all carries on the same

    I'm hoping with the recent groundswell of support for a return to proper IT courses so the money will be made available to support these and that it will attract more people interested in that side.
    Sorry bit more doom and gloom than I would hope.
    I guess we will see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by salan View Post
    Why does this sound like a dif version of BSF?
    Alan
    That's because there are HUGE similarities with the provision of ICT. Under BSF programme, each school would have been blessed with a NEW, sparkling ICT provision. Not necessarily better, but new nevertheless. And under the remaining years, there would not be the level of funding in the pot to sustain the incredibly large initial procurement of ICT, both in infrastructure and front end equipment. Needless to say, the remaining years would see this pot of money reduce, year on year. This I guess will (or is) happening to existing Academies. HUGE initial investment, followed by years of under funding to support the ridiculous, unsustainable initial purchases

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    Quote Originally Posted by andydis View Post
    let assume this for one second :-

    The LA has a datacentre, VDI workstations, virtualized servers, for all schools it governs, its managed, has all software you need, all support included.
    It will be top sliced form your ICT budget say x per user

    Would you go for it?
    If the solution suited the school, & the cost was right we'd consider it. I don't think it would be adopted though. Most schools round here are doing something extra, be it provision of services, extra curricular or just the service they provide. I don't think they would be willing to give that up for an unknown system.

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