Archive for February, 2009

Hands Off My Pension

February 23rd, 2009

Another non-local issue here, but worthy of note I feel.

Apparently PfS are now seeking to use LGPS funds to replace private finance – since investment cash is that much harder to come by.

The pension funds are returned over time, with an agreed rate of return – which to my mind means that money will be taken from schools and put in to pension funds?

It all seems mad to me.

Full story is in the Times, here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article5769537.ece

via Ian Usher @iusher on Twitter

National Coverage

February 17th, 2009

Not really a local issue, but Matt Charlton on Twitter pointed me to an article in the Guardian today questioning whyschools should have to discard a perfectly good ICT system because BSF demands it.

You can view the article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/feb/17/school-building-ict

All I can say is I hope this kind of national coverage of the issues will have some impact on the process for us.

The First Meeting

February 12th, 2009

We had our first official BSF meeting today.

I was heartened to see the turnout, and the variety of people attending. There was a good range РDeputy Heads, ICT Co-ordinators, Network Managers and representatives from the LA Рwhich should make the discussions worthwhile and balanced.

As I feared, we were told that an ICT managed service is basically non-negotiable, and will form part of the BSF bid. I was glad that I wasn’t alone in raising my eyebrows at that point.

The rest of the meeting was basically a meet and greet with the consultants, and a very brief overview of the process and an approximate timeline.

The good news is that we are literally at day 0. Nothing has been done or decided yet, so schools should have good input in to the process. Full credit for this goes to Brighton and Hove LA.

The Opening Salvo

February 12th, 2009

Welcome Dear Reader.

I suppose I should first detail my reasons for putting my thoughts down for the world to see.

I’m a Network Manager in a large Secondary school near Brighton, East Sussex – although we are part of the Brighton and Hove LA. The school is generally considered to be improving, and working in this environment is both stimulating and fulfilling professionally.

Building Schools for the Future (BSF) is a government programme to refurbish all of Englands secondary school buildings, and to revolutionise the use of ICT within them by proving £1675 per student to be spent in this area.

A noble cause. There are areas of our school building that are in need of redesign and refurbishment to make them useful for todays teaching methods, and ICT is always in need of further investment to keep pace with changing technologies.

It seems that part of the BSF “deal” is that schools move away from their current ICT systems in favour of a managed service provided by a large company (such as RM, Ramesys, Sun) – effectively outsourcing their provision.

What concerns me here (at least at this stage) is the assumption that whatever ICT provision a school has in place, a manged service would be able to deliver it better, and possibly cheaper than is possible at the moment.

There is a saying that goes something along the lines of, “Strong, lightweight, inexpensive – pick any two”. Basically something has to give. The companies running these managed services have to make money from doing so, whilst keeping staffing levels in schools similar (and due to TUPE legislation, those staff will be on the same sallaries).

The potential for BSF ICT money in Brighton and Hove is enormous, and could be put to engineer a cross-authority solution that would be transformational in its effect on how learners view their “home school”. I question though if such a federation of schools is mutually inclusive of a managed service provider as BSF appears to dictate.

In this blog, I aim to document the BSF process in Brighton and Hove LA. I am heartened to see that the LA has asked for input from schools right at the start of the process, before the business plan has been drawn up, and before and output specification has even been discussed.

Watch this space to see how things progress!