Establishing procedures for using ICT resources
that school development plans should address how the school will:
"maintain and develop the infrastructure
of hardware and connectivity in a way that is sustainable without distracting
teachers from their teaching."
was tested in many schools by teachers undertaking the NOF ICT training
who often found that rooms set up to teach ICT can sometimes be poor
places in which to teach a subject. Often lessons were hindered by procedures
that sometimes seemed odd to subject teachers expecting a high degree
of user-friendliness. The time taken for start-up procedures, not being
able to do things that seemed obvious, disabled CDROM drives or floppy
disc drives, are common examples. Security and reliability are good
reasons to develop procedures, but if the technology is then shunned
by teachers, then this might not be a good indicator of a sound investment.
Becta advises that ICT procedures should be based on key principles:
"It is important to ensure that confidential information on pupils
and staff cannot be accessed by unauthorised users and that software
licences are managed by appropriate network management procedures. Precautions
must be taken against infection from viruses and unsuitable material,
depending on the context and age of the user."
Carrying Out an Audit
An audit of ICT resources will form the first step in formulating
an ICT development plan and will form the basis for day-to-day management
of ICT. An equipment audit will highlight what ICT hardware the school
has, where they are located, its specification, age and condition.
A judgement about its expected lifetime before being decommissioned
should also be made.
For electronic resources it is useful to record the type of resource
(stand alone etc.) the copyright conditions, the levels of hardware
needed to support its use and any technical support requirements for
While this can be
done very efficiently on a database or spreadsheet, it can also be very
useful to produce a simple school plan with the main items of hardware
and electronic resources shown graphically. This can prove useful when
we need to think strategically about the location of future resources.
With this information to hand ICT resources will be able to be deployed
more efficiently, its use can be planned for, and consideration made
of a replacement plan so that all hardware does not become obsolete
A complete hardware
audit will need to cover: -
Peripherals such as
printers, scanners, CD ROM Drive, Digital Cameras
such as servers, hubs, routers or modems
Access devices such
as Concept keyboards, joysticks and roller balls
Robots such as floor
A complete electronic
resources audit will need to cover all resources on: -
CD ROMs or DVDs
a Replacement Plan
An audit will provide an age profile for the range of ICT equipment
in the school. A replacement plan for the school's hardware can be devised
from this age profile. This process is best accomplished using a spreadsheet.
is provided at the bottom of this page.
are needed to convert this information into a replacement plan, the
life expectancy of the equipment and the replacement cost. The maximum
estimate of life expectancy of computer equipment should be five years.
New purchases will have to be added to maintain projections year on
year. Using this information, decisions can be made regarding the procurement
and redeployment of ICT equipment in line with the school's development
Replacement computers inevitably come with increasing multi-media capability.
This usually gives rise to the redeployment of older equipment where
it can still provide a valid use elsewhere in the school. Often at this
point the oldest machines can be retired.
Schools are sometimes offered computers through refurbishment schemes,
or when local companies replace their equipment. This can be beneficial
but, too often, the specification is too low for the type of uses that
schools make of ICT. NAACE has produced guidance
on purchasing refurbished computers.
ICT enhancement Plan
Developing a new area of teaching and learning with ICT will require
an enhancement plan, which needs to be over and above the school's replacement
plan. In this way one can plan to fill in any gaps or enhance provision
to support the curriculum, in line with the school development plan.
When the replacement plan and enhancement plan are brought together
one will have the overall ICT purchasing requirements for the school.
When drawing up
a budget to support ICT plans we should aim to draw up the total cost
of ownership of ICT. In doing this the following costs should also be
installation and set-up
on-line costs (both
connection and services)
upgrading of hardware
of ICT resources
Purchasing of new hardware and resources will require a procurement
plan. Depending on the overall costs envisaged and the financial regulations
in place, this may involve a tendering process. It is always advisable
before confirming a plan to seek guidance from the school's source of
Managed ICT services
It is not uncommon in the commercial world to treat ICT as a service
and outsource all issues connected with it. With this usually go all
the hassles usually associated with managing ICT. This approach has
been slow to develop in schools for reasons that are complex, but still
surprising as there seem to be few good reasons for a school to own
computers. It could be much better to at least to lease the systems
and have them replaced every few years. A managed service could provide
and maintain up-to-date ICT resources allowing schools to concentrate
on developing their use.
The main obstacle to moving to a leasing approach to all ICT resources
and services would appear to be a belief that managed services are over-expensive.
A sensible component of a self-review for ICT would be to put this to
the test by working out the cost/benefit ratio for current arrangements
for ICT and comparing it to the cost, and what could be achieved, through
a managed service.
A key indicator
for judging the quality of strategic leadership for ICT in schools is
whether investments in ICT are improving standards and the quality of
learning across subjects.
A Becta survey found the use of ICT in subjects (and any impact it might
have on standards) to be variable. It reports that :
degree to which ICT is embedded in subjects varies greatly, sometimes
within a school.
some subjects ICT is used more frequently and in greater depth than
in other subjects. The extent of ICT use in the curriculum appears
to be dependent on the
individual teacher. Pupils can have very different experiences across
different schools and subjects.
ICT use is detrimentally affected
by lack of sustainability of funding for equipment. The available
technology changes so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up to
date and purchase new reliable hardware and software.
funding for technical support and ongoing staff training is crucial
for long-term positive impact. - Impact2
hardware, its procurement and its management might, sensibly be driven
by the big question. "Will this make a difference to standards
in ICT or in other subjects?"
It is quite easy for a school to not quite make sufficient investment
in ICT to make this difference. The questions that need to be asked
"What investment do
we need to make to achieve our vision for ICT?"
"What is the best way
of investing it?"
"How do we know we
are getting the best from our investments in ICT?"