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General Chat Thread, Hello all :) Would appreciate your opinions in General; Hi everyone I found this website a few days ago and have been taking a look around and reading some ...
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    Hello all :) Would appreciate your opinions

    Hi everyone

    I found this website a few days ago and have been taking a look around and reading some very interesting posts. I hope no-one minds me posting a request here.

    Having worked as an Oracle programmer for several years at a big IT company, I have since taken 7 years out of work to look after my children - now both at school full time. I have been looking for a good part-time IT opportunity to start my transition back to the working life, and have an interview this week as ICT Technician at a local primary school.

    I am not 100% up to speed on Windows networks, having spent most of my working life on UNIX systems; however, I'm hoping they might give me a go as I have a good solid IT background. I know how to implement good housekeeping for systems admin, how to work with your users, how an engineer goes about finding a problem, I know the processes and the logic - hopefully a bit of techy expertise can be overlaid on top of that! I've also worked in schools as a volunteer so I have a bit of understanding of the environment and the pressures and opportunities (rather different to the corporate clients I have worked with before).

    I'm just prepping for my interview and wondered if anyone here who works in a primary school might post a response and let me know what are the major issues you face in your job at the moment? What are your priorities? What do you spend most of your day doing? What are the challenges?

    Thanks for any response - I don't know anyone who does this job so any info/opinions/stories would be very helpful!

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    NikChillin's Avatar
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    Hi, welcome to the forums.

    I find that most of our priorities lie in keeping the teaching resources working, projectors etc as if anything affects the ability to deliver a lesson the teachers get a little tetchy.

    Good luck in your interview!

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    Thanks NikChillin. Do you spend a lot of time firefighting? Or is it more a matter of routine checks and maintenance to ensure that things are working?

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    If you work as proactively as possible, you can keep firefighting down a bit (cleaning projector filters, ensuring WSUS (or Windows Update) updates roll out, etc) but PCs and IT equipment will always have a will to die on you! I've always found Windows networks are pretty straightforward from a Unix perspective, and it shouldn't take long to get your head around.

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    For me its a case of routine checks, then look at the log and prioritise jobs as they come. Work Mobile is always on me during work times to deal with any emergency's that might occur.

    As nik mentioned its a case of ensuring that the teachers resources are functional for them to teach, that doesn't necessarily mean snap of the fingers sort it mentality.

    Sometimes i have had to run a session or two to show staff how to use a particular device or a piece of software. Other times its a case of me just being in the background at the beginning of a presentation, incase the teacher needs me. Or it could be a case of you cobbling a set of instructions together in a word or powerpoint etc.

    Communication is key and sometimes people don't know how to. So its a case of making sure certain places are updated and teachers/staff can refer to that, Noticeboards,intranet noticeboard, emails etc. It is always good to try and sit down with your line manager every now and again, so they are kept up to date as well as keep you informed.

    Be wary of the 'can you spare a minute i forgot to log it' people initially will try and overlook procedures but if you stick to your guns they soon realise it don't work. Gets them out of bad habits too (Hopefully)

    If your not 100% in certain areas don't mark yourself down but show that you are a quick learner and can pick up things quickly.

    Hope it works out for you and good luck.

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    NikChillin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ICTLady View Post
    Thanks NikChillin. Do you spend a lot of time firefighting? Or is it more a matter of routine checks and maintenance to ensure that things are working?
    It comes in fits and starts, we had three projectors all go at the same time the other day but most of the hardware is pretty reliable. We get a few laptops with keys missing but other than that it is quiet, we can get on with upgrades and training material etc.
    It does help to be proactive otherwise you end up firefighting which I think is more stressful.

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    I have worked in primaries for about 6 years now and and everyone is... unique so its difficult to say what to expect.
    Is the job taking over from someone else or a new role? If it is new I would expect to face a lot of firefighting in the short term and a lot of work to put in the procedures to put out the fires and make things run smoothly.
    For me, now, the daily routine for each school (I cover three) is about maintaining everything to head off as many problems as I can (being fanatical about backups, keeping an eagle eye on AV status, cleaning filters, all that kind of thing). However don't be surprised it the school throws you a curveball, such as "OFSTED as coming and we need X,Y and Z working asap!".

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    Thanks all so much for your replies, very helpful. I believe the school are bringing their IT inhouse after using an external company for some years. I feel fairly confident about my ability to put good procedures in place and establish communications, I think (hope?) that's where I will have the advantage over a young grad who is whizzy with Windows but maybe hasn't worked longterm with non-technical users....... Really interesting to hear everyone's takes on the role, if I get the job I think I will certainly be spending more time here learning from you all

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    TheLibrarian
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    OT: Best of luck with the interview / job.

    If you get the job and need help with things you know where the best resource is now don't you.

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    I look after a number of primary schools and a job clincher is being able to look after Sims and FMS.

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    Thanks both. Edutech4schools, SIMS and FMS are management information systems for the education sector, is that right? My main area of experience in my old job was building MIS and CRM interfaces to sit on top of database back ends (mostly Oracle rather than SQL Server, though I have spent some time looking after a SQL Server back end to a CRM system). So I reckon I could have a good old go at looking after a similar system

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    One of my schools is a primary and I find that they are much more likely to 'pop in' to my office and ask me to fix something than actually report it in the correct manner. I spend my time firefighting alongside getting quotes, imaging new machines, creating the newsletter, managing the website and generally making sure things work. I sometimes have time to spare and if I do I create the odd policy,and read up on things I might do with my network!
    The head isnt that IT literate, in fact noone in the school is and they could do far more with IT than they do. I do look for new software that might be of interest, and email short 'how to' documents to help them with the common errors they face every day.
    Whiteboards take up a lot of my time!

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    Hello and welcome @ICTLady... nice to have another female tech around - you can find many of us here: Female Techs | Edugeek groups

    Much of school ICT is common sense and communication.

    Regular jobs: keeping an eye on event logs, backups, filtering systems, 'fixing' anything with a plug on it (often by switching the mains switch or reconnecting a cable ), cleaning projector filters every 4-6 weeks, ensuring maintenance and updates are tested and applied, setting up new logins, archiving/deleting old material...

    Get onto ThinkUknow and brush up on e-safety. Safeguarding is the buzzword. Schools have a duty to keep their pupils safe and to help them stay safe outside school. Awareness of how you as part of the school team can help the school with safeguarding issues will be good for interview. Browse the edugeek e-safety forum and if you need to know more, PM me.

    Think through prioritisation. In schools Teaching & Learning is the priority. If you have a set of problems that come in simultaneously, getting the classrooms up and teaching usually comes first... not whoever screams loudest! I mention this because we had a paper-based prioitisation task at the recent interviews at my school!

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    SIMS and FMS are management information systems for the education sector, is that right?
    Yep thats right.

    For the most part it's running the Sims / FMS updates that get issued to the school. Normally this is fire and forget but on occasion you will have an error. If the school use Sims or FMS they will already have some support either from the local authority or directly from Capita who make these products, and you always have edugeek so your never actually on your own.
    Telling the school that you have worked on similar systems before will be a massive bonus for you. The office staff will already know how to use these systems so I would explain that you understand the server aspects but might need some help on the general usage. I also found that the office staff who use these products have a lot of input in choosing a successful candidate.

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    ICTLady (12th December 2011)

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    WOW - A *HUGE* thank you again to everyone for your helpful responses. I can't think of another forum I've used which would have been so welcoming and helpful to a clueless newbie

    I am now armed with ideas on e-safety, MIS, communications, problem logging procedures as well as a can-do attitude and renewed confidence about the relevence of my experience. All of which may or may not be enough to get me the job, I guess it depends who I am up against on the day! Either way, I am enormously grateful to you all for taking the time to reply to my post.

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