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General Chat Thread, Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice in General; Hey guys, Its been a while since i have been on here, mainly because i left Education and have since ...
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    Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Hey guys,
    Its been a while since i have been on here, mainly because i left Education and have since been working at an Insurance Company.

    However, I have an interview on Thursday for an IT Specialist role at a primary school and was wondering if anyone in that particular sector could offer me some advice.

    Basically i am just wondering what are the positive and negative points about working in a primary school and what kind of problems do primary schools face compared to secondary/college's etc.

    Thanks in advance
    Matt

    P.s. my previous experience was 5 years at a college and 6 months at a high school hence why i am aksing about Primary Schools.

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    ohhh that job

    You know what if hadn't been otherside of county I would of gone for it

    It was very odd job in way that was described been interesting to see what the job becomes as it was described as technical job but then it seemed like they want some academic stuff as well

    Russ

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Quote Originally Posted by intrigue
    Basically i am just wondering what are the positive and negative points about working in a primary school and what kind of problems do primary schools face compared to secondary/college's etc.
    This is just a quick rundown but here's my ten penneth worth.

    - Legacy software that in many cases hasn't seen a MSI so be prepared to use command line installs if you want to use RIS to deploy.

    - Problem areas tend to revolve around poor hardware, very little money and trying to do things with software that isn't supported for the newer OS's (eg: XP).

    - Kids hacking the system tend not to be an issue... Teachers leaving machines logged in and kids deleting stuff by mistake is more likely there.

    - Budget, probably the big one... You're dealing in terms of single figure thousands rather than 10's or more so a plan is a must and if you can a 3 year renewal program works well.

    - Filtering for your net connection will likely be handled by your LEA but if not you're obviously dealing with the little ones and the emphasis is not so much on stopping kids deliberately finding stuff but avoiding accidental education

    - All in one internal learning systems to watch out for include, Knowledgebox and Espresso.. Setting them up isn't too tricky and their support is pretty good. If you have a duff box they will sort a replacement ASAP.


    Beyond that can't think of much else to say but a few additional tips on specific software houses you might come across:

    - 2Simple :: MSI's are available for almost all packages and they'll do downloads for you for the latest. Tech support is good and they appreciate feedback

    - Sherston :: Network installs are a good way to go, so try to get a hold of the network installer disk ASAP (it's a special CD available for any schools with a network license)

    - White Space :: (Number and Word shark) have network installers but most schools buy individual CDs (1 license) each... These CD's are your license so even if you get one scratched up, keep it and request a replacement. They are also worth credit for any upgrades (even the older versions) so don't lose or toss them!!

    - Granada Education, BlackCat, etc.. are usually command line installers and support is a little tricky at times. Support bod is on here if you get really stuck but their support is here


    Beyond that I can't think of much else... hopefully the infrastructure is all there already

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Just a couple more to add to the list if thats ok
    you tend to be the only person how has any idea of it and so you can find that teachers have installed all sorts of things. ( I know this is not just primary) also primary schools dont like change and can be hard work one last thing is i will disagree with is
    Quote Originally Posted by intrigue
    the emphasis is not so much on stopping kids deliberately finding stuff
    as the top two years 5 and 6 are both into doing stuff they should not be and saying things like my brother said if i log into this site i can access ??? yes web proxys are comming to primarys

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    I agree that years 5 and 6 are becoming more of a problem on the web. We have had to ask the LEA to block three sites they were trying to access in lunchtime clubs this year - never happened before. And about the budget. Expect to have to work miracles without money.

    Don't expect to have anywhere to work, ie. an office or sometimes even a workstation! Find out at your interview where your base will be (they may not even have thought of that!), and, if it's an IT Suite, what will happen if that is being used for lessons.

    If the job is linked to also being a teaching assistant (ie. always being in IT classes) find out if you will also have a realistic block of time away from teaching to do technical things.

    Be prepared to have to get tough over licencing. Some schools still don't realise they need network licences to run software on a network.

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Hey thanks for that contink, thats exactly what i was hoping someone would write although i must admit i didn't think i would get such a great response

    Anyways, so yeah i have had a look around the school and already have a great list of things i could help with which would cost little money and would maybe even save the school money.
    I am really hopeful for my interview however, i do have to read a short 15 minute story to a group of 7/8 year olds which i am really worried about but as for the rest, fingers crossed!

    Also if anyone has any other comments please feel free to add them as they are always appreciated.

    Thanks
    Matt

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Andie
    Be prepared to have to get tough over licencing. Some schools still don't realise they need network licences to run software on a network.
    Forgot about that one.. This tends to be a big problem and it helps enormously if you make sure the headteacher has a clear understanding of how licenses work and the implications right from the get go.

    In one instance I had to explain to an entire staff that a core part of their teaching strategy wasn't licensed for more than 3 computers and that it was off the network immediately. It wasn't' pleasant but when I explained the costs of getting the necessary licenses and then compared with the costs in jobs, etc.

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    I don't know what the job advert says but if this is full-time job in one school only, then unless the school is very special, the only way they could fund it would be if it was a combined TA/ICT technician role.

    Maybe worth checking out before you get to the interview?

    regards

    Simon

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Other issues which I've found in the Primary section of our school:

    * I don't mean to patronise, but Primary children are much smaller than Secondary. Seating might be an issue (it's hard to tuck your chair in when your feet don't reach the floor!) as could monitor height; consider getting mini mice for them, as their little hands will have problems holding a full-sized mouse
    * Motor control is less skilled, so don't expect them to be able to easily and competently move a mouse around and click on small icons (the Start Menu might challenge the littlest ones); double-clicking can be very difficult, so teach them they can also click-to-highlight then press [Enter]
    * Consider lower-case keyboards for the younger ones
    * They are much more easily distracted, so keep the desktop and application toolbars as clean as possible. Also, try to avoid going into a room where a class is happening, as the teacher may struggle to keep the class on task while you're in there
    * The class teachers have fuller timetables than you're familiar with from Secondary Schools/colleges, and can't leave classes unattended even for 30 seconds, so consider a messaging system and make yourself available after school where possible.

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    As a roving tech for 9 primaries, I'd have to echo the comments made by others here really, especially about not having a base. It can be a real pain and is a genuine problem. Having said that, the look of horror and wonderment on the faces of small children when they see you cracking the case of a computer in the corner of their classroom is quite amusing!

    If you are looking for a pure techy job, I'd be wary of this one. As Simon said, the vast majority of primarys could only fund a full-time IT person by combining an IT and TA role, and asking you to read to the children at the interview seems to back up that suspicion. Beware that they may be trying to get a technically-minded person to do their ICT teaching on the cheap.

    HTH,
    Chris.

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    As the lone techie for two schools, one first, one middle, which cover all primary years, I would echo all that has been said. It also depends on whether they have had a tech or not as the teachers at primary level are used to muddling along on their own which is how you get unlicensed software on the network.
    I must admit that I turned a blind eye to unlicensed stuff UNTIL we got a new server and then of course I had to refuse to put it all back on.
    I do know several tech/TAs and the tech job does seem to get pushed to the back burner. Also, are you getting paid on two different rates? Here at least, a techie is paid over £1 an hour more than a TA

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    I also agree with comments here.

    I personally have only once or twice had to deal with kids accessing stuff on the web they shouldn't. Web filtering is generally an -extremely- small part of the job. I never check logs on the fly (even though web access is logged) because there is simply is no need.

    From what I've seen in other primary schools I've visited, the lack of a base will be an issue in most simply because there isn't enough room to give you one (which is perfectly understandable). This usually means your stock of components and PCs ends up in the ICT Suite somewhere or hidden by the servers (bear in mind that in a primary school, your stock isn't that large anyway because equipment is only ordered if it is needed right then... this is because of the obviously smaller budget then secondary schools and they want to make sure nothing can possibly go to waste).

    The servers generally are either hidden in a room which is far too small for you to have as an office or in a store room (or something similar) which you cannot have as an office either. I'm lucky in my case because I actually have a base in one of my schools. But from what I can see, that is extremely rare.

    HTH

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    I have seen the "server" room and the one server they have which is basically a cupboard with a server in it and apparently the headmaster deals with most of the IT work.

    I am hoping its not so much a TA position but wouldn't mind doing that as well. I will ask the question on the day!
    Thanks
    Matt

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Also wasn't the job term time only I am sure in advert it was..

    Russ

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    Re: Primary School NM & ICT tech's advice

    Yes it is with a week or so working in the summer.
    Where did you see the advert Russ?

    Matt

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