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IT News Thread, Becta budget cut by 40m in Other News; I'm looking for a decent article to referance here, but it is true. Becta will have it's 55m budget reduced ...
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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Becta budget cut by 40m

    I'm looking for a decent article to referance here, but it is true. Becta will have it's 55m budget reduced to 15m. Ed Balls was on the radio at lunchtime describing the cut, and explained that Becta had done the job it was set up to do (support the expansion of ICT in UK schools) and that it should now focus on 'other areas'.
    Personally I wouldn't say that Bectas job is done, rather that it was never done properly in the first place, it was a toothless tiger that should have been leading the way, but instaed it could never make up it's mind one way or anther what official policy in some areas should be, and in any case could not enforce them anyway.

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    Oh dear. Not good news. I've always been an admirer of Becta - they have achieved a lot of good. I know a few people at the Coventry site so it's worrying times - possible job losses and all that.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    I think, one problem was that Becta was created to provide advice and guidence. The Govt don' think schools need advice and guidence any longer. I would beg to differ, with teh scale of IT in modern schools they need it more than ever, but I have the impression that Becta never made themselves:

    a. Essential
    b. Accessable (remember trying to navigate their site not long back?)
    c. Relevant i.e. they should have had more say in how things SHOULD be done al-la FITS

    There is a place for Becta, it's just I feel they never found it by themsleves.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    I'll be totally honest I never really understood BECTA. They always seemed to me to be a ghostly body somewhere up there that every so often dispenced advice, sometimes quiet good advice, that everyone then proceeded to ignore - rightly or wrongly.

    If you're telling me they had a 55m budget to dispense this advice with then I say it's the perfect example of the fat in governement that should be trimed away to pay off the national debt. I'd sooner lose BECTA than lose any money out of my 'frontline' ICT budget. God knows toner replacement costs enough as it is!

    Maybe there is a place for an organisation like BECTA but it would need more teeth and to be more proactive, and cost alot less than 55m!

    But like I say I never really understood BECTA so maybe I missed something...

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    I've been having this discussion for a bit about Becta and the proposed scrapping, then budget cuts.

    If you consider that the remit of Becta has grown over the years and some of what they do is just manage money to go to other projects I worry that some of those will be stuck for funding or that it may be that the funding will go back to those places.

    The example I will use is the ICT Register from SSAT. The funds come from Becta now ... but will they go back to SSAT? Is that a budget cut or just moving money? I have no idea whether that is what would happen but you can see what I am getting at.

    I support Becta and do challenge that some of the stuff they do is very difficult to show how it makes a difference in schools (or more specifically the classroom) but when you look at the emerging technologies info they have historically done, the action based research they support then yes ... there are benefits. The down side is that some of their frameworks have been open to abuse and allowed a one-size-fits-all service from some LAs and MSPs.

    Cynically I think it will just be moving money around rather than an actually cut. I am looking for evidence to show otherwise.

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    mb2k01's Avatar
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    Personally, I think it should be cut even further. Pass any savings direct to LA or even better to schools who show initiative and want to push the bounderies of IT in Education....

    I have never had a positive experience related to BECTA. Rather than help, I have found them to confuse (others, not me) and hinder (me, not others!)

    Without launching my own personal critique, I agree with pretty much everything said by Dos_Box!

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    So Ed Balls, my local labour candidate, is basically saying that he is happy for ICT in schools to remain as it is, and doesn't need to expand or improve much further ....

    I think the opposite is probably more true.

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    Who needs Becta when a conglomerate of costly ICT managed service providers know everything about everything, especially when it comes to ICT in education?

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    I thought the very existance of Becta was at stake, the fact they have still give 15m seems a bit much, a 5m would have been okay.

    They did confuse some people and the one-site-fits all approach adopted by LAs after recommendation from Becta was a real bad one in my opinion as this really did not help but hinder things.

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    A lot of people never got to see the stuff that came out of the research Becta funded, partly because the site was hard to navigate but also because you had to know what you wanted to look for ... or have a hard-copy thrust in your face. Becta research is still the place to have a look through the research that has been used to develop the strategies you see them putting out, and it is generally based around looking at what happens in schools ... talks about scaling it up and then sees it if still works.

    The good research papers are the ones that talk about the failures as well as successes.

    The cuts probably won't be immediate (probably 2011 to allow for this year's budget and planning to run ts course), will be the funding of other projects that never used to be under the remit of Becta (and only became so because people moaned that what is the point in doing stuff if you didn't try to join it all up together) and that funding will just go back to the folk who used to have it ...

    If money is rolled out to LAs and schools then who gives advice and guidance? Who goes out to schools to see what works well? The only thing I can see at the moment is PfS doing it for BSF, PCP and Academies ... and ICTMark being used as the standard elsewhere ... remembering that lots of LAs are moving away from the model of having in-house advisory staff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    If money is rolled out to LAs and schools then who gives advice and guidance? Who goes out to schools to see what works well? The only thing I can see at the moment is PfS doing it for BSF, PCP and Academies ... and ICTMark being used as the standard elsewhere ... remembering that lots of LAs are moving away from the model of having in-house advisory staff.
    Every school and LA is different - but here, the answer to the above is "me".
    Any external agency who comes in with the attitude that they know better is wrong. They don't. They have advice to offer - if we want to take it, and then only if it works in the best interests of our students, staff and parents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    A lot of people never got to see the stuff that came out of the research Becta funded, partly because the site was hard to navigate but also because you had to know what you wanted to look for ... or have a hard-copy thrust in your face. Becta research is still the place to have a look through the research that has been used to develop the strategies you see them putting out, and it is generally based around looking at what happens in schools ... talks about scaling it up and then sees it if still works.
    I think this sums up quiet nicely why I never really 'got' becta. I can't say I've ever consciously noticed anything that came out of becta and really never released they are involved in any type of research. I think if becta survive the election then they should use some of that 15m on a good PR person.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    I think this sums up quiet nicely why I never really 'got' becta. I can't say I've ever consciously noticed anything that came out of becta and really never released they are involved in any type of research. I think if becta survive the election then they should use some of that 15m on a good PR person.
    Totally agree. On top of that some of the companies they accredited didnt even meet their own requirements!!

    I remember having a chat with Smoothwall before they got accreditted. We wanted to go with them but our SMT wouldnt as they wernt accredited. We stuck with the RBC provided garbage which was accreditted but was an absolute joke.

    A few years on and pretty much teh whole LEA is dumping the RBC provided proxy in favour of homebrews and smoothwall like proxies.

    In this situation what did becta do? As far as i can see all they did was stand in the way of progress, the opposite of what they are ment to be about.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    I think this sums up quiet nicely why I never really 'got' becta. I can't say I've ever consciously noticed anything that came out of becta and really never released they are involved in any type of research. I think if becta survive the election then they should use some of that 15m on a good PR person.
    Becta, like a number of agencies, get their hands tied when it comes to communication. Take FITS as an example ... a really good idea but they could only market it at events that Becta was at, or that they were invited along to ... to do otherwise would have been anti-competitive to those who provide advice and support to schools on IT Infrastructure and IT Support. Pretty much the same reason why BBC had to ditch JAM.

    When Becta have a specific project they fund / run they have to meet stupid comms rules. It means that people get things by word of mouth instead ... when stuff does get into schools it is usually addressed to the Head (and subsequently 'filed'!)

    To be honest, EduGeek stands a better chance of getting info FITS out to schools, Fronter on VLEs, Sirius on Open Source in schools, etc ...

    The idea was to put stuff up online and people will come ... but that was hampered by the CMS used did not have RSS feeds setup so no-one knew anything new came out unless you were on the mailing lists ...

    Things have got better but you also have to accept that every school is different so if they send stuff into the Head then it is up to the school to make sure the right person gets it. You get the same problem from the LA and the Supplier point of view. Comms into schools is horrible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mb2k01 View Post
    Every school and LA is different - but here, the answer to the above is "me".
    Any external agency who comes in with the attitude that they know better is wrong. They don't. They have advice to offer - if we want to take it, and then only if it works in the best interests of our students, staff and parents.
    Where do you get your advice from? Me ... I get it from other schools as part of formal and informal networks, Govt Agencies (inc Becta), industry panels, legal advice and guidance (both nationally and from LA). The people I give advice to can get it from lots of other places other than me ... and that is a good thing because being the only person to say what is good or bad in a school is a very bad thing ... the high priest model where one person has the answers and it is all channeled through them doesn't work for curriculum development and sure doesn't work for IT development. Having one person in a key role is good but you have to give other views / advice a fair go.

    This is not intended be a prod at you, but at the 'high priest' model in general. Seen it in too many schools recently from the ICT Co-ordinators as well as IT staff and it is usually a power trip.

    "No ... we won't be looking at blogs because my staff will find it too complicated." was a quote from one school (outside of my LA but fairly local) ...

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