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back to article BSF programme boosts schools' IT spending

Education spending on ICT will be accelerated by the Building Schools for the Future programme, according to research by Kable. Investment in new technology for secondary schools has grown faster than any other part of the state education sector over the past three years and this is set to continue, the research says. Overall, …

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annual growth rate of 5.3 per cent for schools' IT expenditure

An above inflation growth ? Geez.

Couldn't they make do with last years budget and use OpenOffice etc. rather than MIcroSoft's tat ?

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Gates Halo

Yeah...

Schools do generally have good IT now, but until we stop teaching nothing but sodding microsoft office, kids will always fail to be inspired by their IT lessons..

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Thumb Down

Mindless IT spend.

This looks like the NHS IT all over again.

The planning should go like this:-

Teachers would save n admin hours if we had x sysetm.

n hours is worth £y, system x will cost £z

if £z > £y then implment the system.

What actually happens is:

ICT makes us look modern and efficient.

Lets spend lots of money on IT so we can become modern and efficient.

In fact lets spend even more so we can call it a PPP and the bidders can buy us lunches.

This is so depressing, other than some admin and the actual teaching of Computer Programming I dont see how lots of crappy PCs will improve any childs education.

Still the availability of porn in the classroom is bound to keep at least half the kids quit.

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What for?

I finished my GCSEs last year. All you do is Microsoft Office with a little bit of Dreamwever.

AS & A Levels are exactly the same, really.

Schools could save some cash by using OpenOffice for starters. Teaching people proper IT would be nie as well. Anyone can use MS Office.

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Unhappy

@ Tom Chiverton

"Couldn't they make do with last years budget and use OpenOffice etc. rather than MIcroSoft's tat ?"

No apparently not in fact it seems that some schools that have spent time moving over to FOSS will be swiftly moved back "on track" when they are BSF'd.

It's really annoying as quite a few schools are starting to make (including us) that move and at long last have some decent IT staff to help, unfortunatly very soon they will be outsourced and RM will wade in with a fresh top to bottom MS solution.

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Bronze badge

Train the teachers.

If only schools realised that IT spending does not add value unless teachers can actually use the equipment. Inadequate training is the biggest problem, particularly in the area of interactive whiteboards and technophobic teachers.

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Not all the money is going to schools

You have to remember that BSF is essentially a PFI initiative. Any contract winner\holder is going to skim a proportion of that cash for profits, and just because the money is allocated it does not mean essentially it will be spent on the school or spent wisely. It is very much like the previous method the govt used to improve ICT in schools which was to give the money directly to them (no bad thing as every school is different) and have them spend it on ICT as they wished with a few constraints in place. Unfortunately what happened in a minority of cases was that schools with little or no technical support to advise senior management spent the money on 'magic beans' and not on the things they should have been looking at (computers, servers, licences etc).

Now the govt is pushing a lot of schools down the BSF route many who have previously had excellent ICT infrastructures will find themselves 'relegated' to a default setup that whilst has improved the poorly managed schools networks has severely limited the potential of other better run schools. As I've always said about BSF. Some will be good. Some will be truly excellent, and some will be complete and total failures. It is still too early to see which will be which.

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Anonymous Coward

computers in schools

There was an excellent documentary a couple of years ago where a bunch of UK MPs went to Switzerland to look at their education system, at the time regarded as one of the best in the world. They were wondering around in a group being shown attentive and enthusiastic children learning to read, etc when one MP asked where the ITC department was. The head teacher replied that there was none, if they wanted to play with computers they did it in their free time.

The slack jawed silence of the MPs was a sight to behold.

Of course they returned to the UK to force more of Microsoft's shite down kid's throats. Ho hum.

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Anonymous Coward

Pity RM and co are gonna get richer

It seems that 3 companies, RM, RAMESYS and Northgate are going to reap this bounty.... smaller comapnies cannot compete with the BSF criteria and thus will not win any contracts

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@ Russell Long

"If only schools realised that IT spending does not add value unless teachers can actually use the equipment. Inadequate training is the biggest problem, particularly in the area of interactive whiteboards and technophobic teachers"

Don't get me started this has been an issue for a looooong time but teachers just hate been taught by 'support' staff even support staff that are at least as qualified as they are. Also 'NO' time is put aside for IT training so all of the investment in new technology is wasted as only a few adventurous teachers will try to use it. It doesn't help that every time i offer a course on basics e.g using whiteboards and so on, no one comes as no one thinks they need it then they continually knock on my door with 'basic' questions.

Fortunately the head has agreed to some training and 'I' get to identify who I think will benefit ;-) so hopefully we might get somewhere.

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@ Chris Byers

'You have to remember that BSF is essentially a PFI initiative. Any contract winner\holder is going to skim a proportion of that cash for profits'

Yep as you say undo any good work that has gone before e.g ripping out any inovative solutions to be replaced by their 'standard build' this is largly due to them having a supply chain in place but i see it as a massive waste of money.

They're basically taring all schools with the same brush rather than targeting the schools that have wasted their money in the past, i've seen schools with excellent IT staff and good FOSS solutions in place, learning portals and so on and it is quite likely that these will be ripped out and replaced by a Mediocre standard build.

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Re: Train the teachers

I agree with you there. Some teachers that i've encountered don't know how to operate a DVD Player, some barely knew how to use Windows XP properly.

One of them I saw (They had this up on a projector) was navigating through files, and his folders were called New Folder, New Folder (1), New Folder (2), and so on, which I found quite worrying to be honest.

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FITS, SEF and SIP...........................

Anyone wanting to preserve their existing infrastructure need only complete Becta's FITS framework, them incorporate it into the school's SIP/SEF - That way you've proven that your system already meets the BSF spec, and you get handed a wad of cash to continue running your systems the way you see fit.

That's what our LEA is telling us anyway.

I've heard both positive and negative views from existing school techies who's schools have already started down the BSF route. For school IT Support staff this is either going to be a career maker or breaker. It's going to depend a lot on how goos your network really is, and whether your school's leadership team recognise that enough to fight in your corner rather than throw the cash at Dell/RM/whoever.

Interesting times........................................

Shaun - Blackfen School for Girls Network Manager.

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Happy

Re AC

" as only a few adventurous teachers will try to use it "

Perhaps you should take a step back and ask yourself why should any teacher be interested?

You advocate replacing a cheap and effective whiteboard with a complex unreliable and difficult to use electronic gizmo. On the face of it there are no benefits whatsoever for the average (or even above average) teacher. Perhaps there are some hidden benefits to the system but they would need effective marketing ( i.e. explaining in plain English what the possible benefits are).

Most larger corporations got beyond this primitive "computer shiny, computer good, buy lots" thinking years ago, it seems the public service and medium sized businesses have not got there yet.

You buy computers to do stuff. Before you hand over money you need to define what sort of stuff you want to do and evaluate whether the proposed system would be any good at it.

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@ James Anderson

'Perhaps you should take a step back and ask yourself why should any teacher be interested?'

A very good point and one that has been debated many times but if the government are going to make the investment then they should consult teachers and teachers unions and get them on board otherwise the money and investment is wasted.

I am involved with teachers and in teaching and learning development so i can appreciate where you are coming from.

I didn't advocate the replacement of whiteboard more pointed out the fact that it has already been done in many schools.

'Before you hand over money you need to define what sort of stuff you want to do and evaluate whether the proposed system would be any good at it.'

That's been a problem with IT in secondary education for ages, the focus is on getting the kit in the schools but then they have no idea how to make use of it other than using publisher to make posters.

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Unhappy

@Vincent

Spot on...as I'm taking my Applied ICT A-Levle (Applied? hah!) I wonder whether I'm just wasting my time. At least I'll get a bit of paper to wave at employers...

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Coat

Politicos...

see the Internet as the magical solution to everything. If it involves tech stuff the kidz iz darn wiv it. Unfortunately that appears to be the thinking behind it all.

There's also in idea of poorer kids having cheapo laptops and subsidised net access, not unlike the OLPC scheme. We all know what happened to that. Give 'em £99 Linux (TV compatible) boxes. Put the net access out to tender. Job done. Maybe I should be the I(C)T minister!

However, it's the same old story, turn the kids into users, (on systems incompatible outside education), constant upgrades with VAT on top keeping the govt in dosh. I had the same problem when I left school: the real world didn't use Beebs, just as it doesn't use BSF. At one of my 1st job interviews I fell flat on my face. "Here's our Amstrad 1512. Make it work". Like others have posted, the teachers themsleves can't perform the simplest of tasks, so it looks in some cases like the blind leading the blind. A final thought, I wonder how many shares said politicos have in RM/MS?

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