But would they have the same autonomy with projects? Can you really see an LA just allowing a school to slap an Apache server on to run some PHP systems or tie in some OSX clusters.
I see better what you mean now, give the schools a blank virtual canvas and let them draw what they will on it, & it sounds great but having seen the issues here with various LA projects where such and such a restriction exists or this is blocked for this concern that I don't think it would be as free as we would like to think. It is a good thought though to save on the large expense of the backend.
If one school had a greater budget than another, great. Do with it what they wanted, more vdi, software, hardware, doesn't matter. The basics will be in place. This idea is more about sharing human resources than a technological viewpoint.
With cloud computing that might render most of the things on the network useless. Maybe a floating engineer for hardware problems. Everything else offsite, even managed centrally. I believe the we are a dying breed.
With such combined academies coming forward, it gives schools the opportunity to share services and teaching in a larger organisation. I don't see this as a backward step; it gives the opportunity for expansion and staff development/promotion where previously there was none.
There won't be loads more money around for the academies, that was always a nonsense, but there is the freedom for academies to do things their way rather than the very precriptive BSF way.
In the short term things will stay as is. The trend of amalgamation seems to be going full speed with schools merging, heads taking over more than one school, academys etc. I bet they will try to keep their distinct network support teams going, however it makes sense to join IT support teams together. For example IT Director and or NM, Network Engineers acting as a floating body with senior techs / junior techs on site. There is more benefits than disadvantages to this, for example more room for career progression and sharing of knowledge. Schools should be run more as a business! Support teams should link in infant, primary schools in immediate areas (such as feeder schools) and provide IT services for them and this in turn would probably bring in more money.
In the long term, using the word 'cloud' loosely, will take over. However in the next 5-10 years some form of techie is always going to be needed to do basic support such as toner changing, basic admin etc.
This is where I do not see it as a benefit for us. We have a good ICT system (ok there always one or two minor niggles). We have a good support team (althoug again there always someone who wants more!). So how are we going to benefit?
At best we will be spread across more schools (not sure just how we are supposed to find the time as I clock up an obsene number of overtime that I never get around to claiming.) We are 80% of a major server upgrade that I started three years ago (done when funds allow). If all that is to be scrapped just to put what som other person thinks is better.....
We had another section of the authories use part of the school and they got their own bods in to set it up. They didn't ask us at all. Funny thing is it never worked fully. It was always failing. But if they had asked we could of told them what they wanted to do would not work!
Our school is 75 years ol and made of acrington brick. I am not sure a bomb would damage it!
Wireless just does ot work well. There are so many WAPs you can pick up all around the school as well (min 20 at any one point).
I am all for linking in and helping the feeder schools but the infrastructure needs to be in place and one size does NOT fit all.
So far I have not heard anything that gives me a good feeling.
I personally expect to see the demise of the LA School IT Support team, from some things I read on here I'd say that's a good thing and others not so. Some LAs, for example mine, has a seperate Corporate and Schools IT Team, I would expect those to merge in the near future to save money as at the end of the day they are doing the same things, supporting IT within the LA so why have two management teams running them? Have two teams under one lead perhaps to save money.
Things like Central Managed Services will be farmed off or discontinued, for example the days of the RBC are numbered, Centralised Systems no longer provide the needs of schools for Internet and Filtering, our LA has taken the bold step to discontinue the central proxy farm and give all schools the hardware to do it all and just route raw internet to us, this is a bold step but once setup will reduce the costs, things like that outside of the box thinking will help them survive.
In terms of procurement etc, in our county were meeting at the end of the month to discuss bulk buying PCs for the summer holiday, and meeting with a vendor from the CITHS framework to take advice and see if we can work with vendors like HP to arrange county wide discounts ourselves, our LA does sell hardware but many are unhappy with the hardware and pricing so we will try and do it ourselves.
Feeder Support, our LA does a lot of that, but again we are looking at taking it in-house ourselves and starting to run that for ourselves with the local schools to save money for them, were all for trying to save what little money we have left in the budgets.
We pretty much have complete control over our IT (That goes for us in IT Support too - we are more in control).
We should be an Academy come Christmas, our future planning is:
More FROG Usage (this is currently being implemented)
Upgrading our servers to Server 2008 R2 X64
Look towards possible thin clients for quicker User access.
I can see schools given more budgets (even though at the moment they are getting budget cuts). Sooner or later they will realise the money is seriously needed in schools and Especially in IT because it is the students who suffer with down IT Equipment. I can see the schools being given the money and not being forced in to the "BSF" way which was badly done from day 1. It could be possible that schools have to follow guidelines or recommended guidelines. We are remember here for the students, to give them the best possible equipment and not suffer for it while providing up-to-date software of the real world and not just something they will never/rarely see.
I used to work for a local authority and the sharing of ICT worked amazingly well. 4 District and Borough Council's ICT departments merged to form one ICT unit. There was one Director, one ICT Network Manager, one Project manager etc etc. All the councils had different flavours, i.e vanilla, novell, Linux etc. But with correct planning and implementation, training, budgetary control, it worked fantastically. One centralised call centre was implemented. The knowledge sharing was fantastic. They realised that there was so much duplication with all the councils (both resources and personell) it was a no brainer. Each council adopted the best practice from the other councils, some systems were lost in favour of better ones, but all in all, it was great. No autonomy or control was really lost. No one council took precedence, all the councils, no matter how big or small they were, were treat as an equal, with an equal voice.
On this basis, I don't see how this could not work in schools. I know everyone (including me) is protective of their network and resources, but the reality is, I think the current environment will change. How I don't know, but I bet it's not far off my example.
Gazes into my crystal ball:
1. Most schools become Academies.
2. Academies in a Local area band together to provide economy of scale.
3. They need to differentiate their objective as Education rather than providing other support services to their communities.
4. They become so powerfull that the government gives them the Authority to run their own systems and devolve responsibility to local politicians in the interests of democracy.
5. They thus become known as Local Education Authorities.
Oh dear ............ erm .................
Personally, I think LEAs will disappear across the county in the current form. The government has already pretty much said they want all secondary schools to become academies.
Instead, small groups of local academies will work with each other, like we are doing now in preperation to our change over, with our local upper school. Groups of, say, 10 or 15 schools should have no issues working together to aid each other - the decision making process would be relatively short, compared with an entire LEA where, say, 300 schools are involved.
I doubt many schools will move to 'managed' solutions, due to the horrors being revealed from other schools which have tried it, but a few will. Some may centralise ICT provision within a cluster of schools, meaning the lead school in the area takes on the responsibility.