Secondary school ICT
The problems of IT provision within schools are numerous and not just down to the couple mentioned in the report. (The following all refer mainly to secondary schools, I don’t know enough about primaries to comment although there will be some commonality).
1) Funding: how much money does the school actually get and how much of a priority is it to spend on ICT? Even within the same borough there will be massive differences on a school’s allocation.
2) LEA Decisions: how much money is skimmed off the top before it reaches schools? How is this money then spent, particularly with regard to centralised systems that some schools within the LEA don’t use as they are too restrictive / too unreliable / too limited compared to other systems they want or need?
3) LEA Support: how knowledgeable are the technician’s at the LEA? How many different organisations do you have to go through before a problem is resolved? Do the LEA’s preferred suppliers offer best value or can better be bought cheaper elsewhere? Is it cheaper to buy licences elsewhere rather than through the LEA? Does the person purchasing have the requisite skills, knowledge and experience to obtain best value?
4) In School Support: is this only provided by the LEA on a when required basis? Is the school’s technician basically a changer of toner cartridges and cleaner of projector filters? Does the school employ higher level technicians and a network manager (NM) with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience?
5) ICT decisions: is a teacher effectively the network manager as a secondary role to their teaching? Do they have the requisite skills, knowledge and experience to do such a role? Are decisions made between the NM and ICT co-ordinator or does one decide without consulting the other? Is there a strong enough business case for money to be spent on X or is it just a new shiny toy? Is X’s product seen as best value just because they are “specialists in the education sector”? Does the person investigating X have the requisite skills, knowledge and experience to obtain best value? Will staff be trained properly? If training is provided but staff don’t attend will that be classified as a failing on their part or on the NM / ICT co-ordinator?
6) Head teacher: does the head teacher (HT) want cutting edge or reliable? Is he / she prepared to invest properly in ICT even if he / she can? Does the HT appreciate that you can’t develop, maintain and “firefight” simultaneously unless you have enough staff with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience?
7) Government interference: have you bought something because OFSTED or some other government organisation says you have to? Was it a huge waste of money or wise investment? Did you buy it from a government approved supplier but could have bought it elsewhere much cheaper? Did you purchase a system that could run a small nation all by itself when all you really needed was Windows 95 installed on a 486?
I’m sure a lot more questions will spring to mind later but the point is there are a lot of fundamental issues that you won’t be aware of unless you have worked in a school environment. I don’t believe Sebastian James has.