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General Chat Thread, Schools kit 'scam could cost schools millions' in General; @CyberNerd , @ SYNACK and @ localzuk I am not saying there are no bad managers in schools ... I ...
  1. #16

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    @CyberNerd , @SYNACK and @localzuk

    I am not saying there are no bad managers in schools ... I am not denying that there are problems with some schools ... but the repeated carping about how terrible teachers are at becoming managers when this is a minority just goes to show that I can honestly say that this thread strikes me, once again, as a chance to knock teachers or moan about bad experiences.

    Instead of immediately having a dig why not take a step back, think about why things like this go wrong, ask how much of it is the responsibility of the school and how much is caused by the firm who did the selling, think about the number of times we hear about mis-representation ... intentionally hiding facts to get a sale ... and whether this applies in this and similar cases. Think about how people can spread the word about how it can be avoided (lessons learnt) and what our schools have in place to try to catch things like this. Schools are not unique in examples of bad management / leadership so why not consider looking at how others deal with it.

    If you want to talk about accountability for this and training, then the people who should be dealing with this have access to advice already (whether Bursar or SLT) ... and this is not just via LAs. SLT unions give advice nothings like this ... NAHT and ASCL have both addressed this, but NUT and NASUWT are not as proactive as they tend to focus on the classroom side of things rather than running schools. Schools can (and do) also buy in services from folk like StrictlyEducation, CfBT, various Academy groups (some also resell services to those outside of members of their group) so there are plenty of places to go for advice ... and this is before we get to the informal networks of people sharing advice too. Do you honestly think this is the only place where people regularly share things?

    If courses like CSBM, DSBM, NPQH, MBA, MEd, etc are not covering things then it should be addressed ... if people are not going on the courses or getting the advice it should be addressed ... but rather than pointing fingers and having a gripe why not say *why* NMs / IT Techs / external IT Support Providers might have been able to spot this when others didn't. Give examples of policies your schools may have (or should have) which should help catch things like this.

  2. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    @CyberNerd , @SYNACK and @localzuk

    I am not saying there are no bad managers in schools ... I am not denying that there are problems with some schools ... but the repeated carping about how terrible teachers are at becoming managers when this is a minority just goes to show that I can honestly say that this thread strikes me, once again, as a chance to knock teachers or moan about bad experiences.
    What's that old saying? Where there's smoke, there's fire...

    Instead of immediately having a dig why not take a step back, think about why things like this go wrong, ask how much of it is the responsibility of the school and how much is caused by the firm who did the selling, think about the number of times we hear about mis-representation ... intentionally hiding facts to get a sale ... and whether this applies in this and similar cases. Think about how people can spread the word about how it can be avoided (lessons learnt) and what our schools have in place to try to catch things like this. Schools are not unique in examples of bad management / leadership so why not consider looking at how others deal with it.
    It is entirely the responsibility of the school! That's the point. Companies are there to make money, they are fulfilling their role, whether we agree with their tactics or not. Sure, if fraud occurs then that needs dealing with via the law, but schools not reading contracts properly? That is 100% the school's responsibility. If you buy a new car and don't bother reading the contract, and then find yourself stung by some large administration charge, then its your own fault.

    How can it be avoided? Read all the paperwork properly, or if you don't know enough about it, get advice from someone or somewhere that does - contract lawyers, your LEA, the DfE. Burying your head in the sand and just steaming on is exactly what I'm talking about, it is bad management.

    If you want to talk about accountability for this and training, then the people who should be dealing with this have access to advice already (whether Bursar or SLT) ... and this is not just via LAs. SLT unions give advice nothings like this ... NAHT and ASCL have both addressed this, but NUT and NASUWT are not as proactive as they tend to focus on the classroom side of things rather than running schools. Schools can (and do) also buy in services from folk like StrictlyEducation, CfBT, various Academy groups (some also resell services to those outside of members of their group) so there are plenty of places to go for advice ... and this is before we get to the informal networks of people sharing advice too. Do you honestly think this is the only place where people regularly share things?
    Hang on, you're listing unions as a place to get advice from about how to do your job properly. That makes about as much sense to me as a chocolate teapot. Surely you should already know how to do your job before being handed the position?

    No, I don't think this is the only place where people share advice. However, the government has not been very helpful in encouraging the sharing of information. Many of those advice giving mechanisms are disappearing via the implosion of LEA services.

    If courses like CSBM, DSBM, NPQH, MBA, MEd, etc are not covering things then it should be addressed ... if people are not going on the courses or getting the advice it should be addressed ... but rather than pointing fingers and having a gripe why not say *why* NMs / IT Techs / external IT Support Providers might have been able to spot this when others didn't. Give examples of policies your schools may have (or should have) which should help catch things like this.
    'Should be addressed'. By who? How? When? By the DfE? How would it be monitored? Ofsted? They mainly focus on T&L so not really suitable. How about an auditor type system, such as FMSIS? Well, the government already disposed of that, and replaced it with the SFVS which is only mandatory to LEA controlled schools. The entire system is moving towards *less* accountability in schools! Where else in the world does someone get handed a multi-million pound budget without an MBA or the like?

    The problem is, the people who hire the people below them are teachers, the teachers then get promoted and hire more teachers. It is rare in my experience to find someone in a school who isn't from a teaching background and who has any decision making power, and if they are in that position, someone who doesn't get overridden or ignored by a teacher in power wanting something shiney (there are many many hundreds of examples of that on here) or signing the school up without following policy.

    This isn't slagging off teachers, it is pointing out that realistically, teachers are not qualified to manage a school, much like I am not qualified to do so either, or my GP not being qualified to manage a hospital.

  3. Thanks to localzuk from:

    SYNACK (8th January 2012)

  4. #18

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    There is a lot I could go into but to start with I just want to take this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Hang on, you're listing unions as a place to get advice from about how to do your job properly. That makes about as much sense to me as a chocolate teapot. Surely you should already know how to do your job before being handed the position?
    I think you are missing an important fact. Things change ... laws change ... government policy and how it is implemented changes ... new research throws up things which can mean you might want / need to to something differently to get better results.

    If the DPA changes where do you get advice from? If H&S changes or instructions on how to do risk assessments for schools trips changes? Unions are not just there for the nasty things in life, for protecting the employee from unsavoury employers ... they are also there for professional advice. That might not be your experience of unions but NAHT and ASCL are pretty hot on helping SLT in schools deal with change. As more schools become academies then you can find Business Managers and Heads needing to take on different roles ... and yes, that involves advice and training.

    To some extent there is a lot of on the job training ... and when you consider that training for teachers becoming management / leadership in schools starts when they take on a responsibility (TLRs) ... things like taking on looking after KS3 English ... there are no real courses in that other than how to deal with the processes of managing / designing the curriculum ... and those sorts of courses come from LAs and external parties ... but they don't explicitly deal with personnel management because that is something which is frequently passed on via a 'mentor' (e.g. the head of department) ... to some extent is that so different to an IT Technician learning how to set up a mail server but being mentored by the NM when it comes to sharing the change / training others?

    As you take on more responsibilities there are more courses which can be done ... and yes, these will frequently deal with T&L, but elements of that include Leadership & Management. Like all training though, people don't always pick up the same bits and more often than not the training is bland, not differentiated and may not be tailored to either the school or the individual. For things like that you need courses like NCSL's Leading From The Middle (aimed at improving the leadership and management of HoDs or aspiring HoDs).

    It is not so different from my experience in the army in some ways ... I was doing the job of a Provost Corporal whilst only being a LCpl ... working as Fire NCO prior to doing the course ... but being mentored and supported all the way along.

    Perhaps that is the difference ... schools which mentor and support do well, whilst others scrabble about and leave gaps? A good head will spot the gaps and help get them filled by people who can do the job or who can pick up the skills to do the job. At BETT I can tell you about the Academy where they have 4 Vice Principals and they rotate responsibilities every other year so that they pick up all the skills / understanding needed to go on to be a good Principal / Head ...

  5. #19

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    Hmm.. think the real story here is probably those annual reports of shortage of Heads and an essentially market-driven lowering of standards in terms of the wit/experience that are acceptable to fill the position. Part of that is doubtless related to the reasons why some folk with obvious capability aren't interested in the manglement track, where of course we all know the job has become increasingly Kafa-esque over the last decade or two. Want better Heads then figure out what's putting off the better people, instead of finding increasingly creative ways to excuse and shore up the mediocre ones.

  6. #20

    SYNACK's Avatar
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    It does go some way to explaining the funds shortage in UK primary schools, they loose a large chunk of it in bad gambles.

    Rosey ideals of training, union and LA support aside.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 8th January 2012 at 11:38 PM.

  7. #21
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    I did see the report and think - I am not surprised.

    I have seen staff here promoted through the ranks who I would question, I my self used to have zero experience in network managing let alone any management experience. I worked hard to and sacrificed a lot to be what I am today although I wasnt qualified or experienced and as a result we did have problems. The school was not willing to pay for a proper network manager so we stuck with the in house technicians. How many of us are doing our jobs and are not technically qualified? or have (like me) gained the experienced by doing the job?

    Yes its wrong but unless schools are given more money and time to actually Employ fully qualified staff (and also realise its much more complicated of a job) then simply it won't happen, its such a shame and frankly wrong but it happens every where. I totally agree that the job title Head Teacher or Deputy Head these days must require some management skills (Frankly reading between the lines should be common sense before signing anything).

    It happens though.. sad but true.

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    The crazy thing is that the company mentioned in the BBC report has restarted and is continuing to trade with the same staff be it under a new name, we are in direct competition with the company and how can we compete with a underhand dealer, cost to schools is everything, we pride ourselves on being transparrant and people like this give us a terrible reputation.

  9. #23

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    It basically comes down to mis-selling, the government needs to look into a law that if you do not inform the school about further ongoing charges then you are liable for costs. The UAS advertising agency has a stipulation in place where is says that the company, web based or not should make it clear what the charges are.
    Ypu shouldn't be expected to read possibly thousands of words in the small print which actually could say - "we will clean you out of all your funds" and because you missed it you are liable.
    This came up on a travel news item recently whereby BA put somewhere in their 11,000 terms and conditions wording that if they found an error in pricing you have to pay the difference. This meant the customer saw a goog deal on their website for £300 and then were legally requested to pay a further £1500 ish.

    It is a loophole which needs addressing. And anyone can be caught out!

  10. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by NikChillin View Post
    It basically comes down to mis-selling, the government needs to look into a law that if you do not inform the school about further ongoing charges then you are liable for costs.
    <snip>
    It is a loophole which needs addressing. And anyone can be caught out!
    I agree that tackling how folk get away with such a flagrant con (free + victims didn't know they were signing a lease) is the first problem here, although not about "anyone" being vulnerable. Have little sympathy for any Secondary caught by this, but more for the Primary.

    As a parent I think I want a cheerful/optimistic type of character running a small Primary school where there's more "engagement" with small kids/parents, but suspect that's generally mutually exclusive with the world-weary cynicism you need to defend yourself properly from the sharks. But even then, where were the governors?

  11. #25

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    As a parent I think I want a cheerful/optimistic type of character running a small Primary school where there's more "engagement" with small kids/parents, but suspect that's generally mutually exclusive with the world-weary cynicism you need to defend yourself properly from the sharks. But even then, where were the governors?
    In my experience, if the deal was 'free', the governors wouldn't even know it was happening.

  12. #26

    X-13's Avatar
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    As scams go, not reading the small print is pretty lame.

    It's way better than "it's free... but not really." Where the free version is restricted and to get the things you were told about, the same things that made it sound like a good deal, you need to pay for upgrades.

    See also: Allegedly free games.

    Warning: That's a TVTropes link, and we all know TV Tropes will ruin you life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    In my experience, if the deal was 'free', the governors wouldn't even know it was happening.
    Will take you word for it coz I know little about that side of things, but it's a teensy bit disturbing given the significant cost of IT provision to contemplate that: a) One or more governors weren't at least slightly interested in that significant expenditure, school routinely budgeting for it etc. b) Head/whoever didn't mention that suddenly, magically, they wouldn't need to spend tens of thousands of pounds in the next few years to refresh all their IT kit. IOW dog that didn't bark stuff... shouldn't someone know (possibly too late mind) because of the *absence* of IT funding problems on some agenda or other?

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    Although true to say it is better to pay £20k for a "techie" to save £700k - even a teacher could work that one out :-) sadly a techie is also often not aware and it is a "Business-Head" (you can find one in google using that term) that you need or similar who understands A. The technology, B. Business in general and C. Has knowledge of leasing arragments; because even if it's right for your school not to enter another one - there's a good chance they're in one now and furthermore there will be a service agreement sitting alongside - also with a liability!

    Sadly these parasites (not all in that industry - Print / Copy are in fairness) are encouraged to work in the education, charitable sectors, etc as they are typical easy prey - with know business-head internally or externally to guide them. It has to be said that there are also times when there is a bad guy on the inside - who do not care for anything other than themselves!

    I care because it's my tax, the money for my children's education and also my industry!

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