Managed services in UK schools

On a visit to a well run school ICT department this week I suddenly 'got' what the major issues are that are besetting school ICT. It's not that I didn't know that these were issues before, it's just that there is nothing like real debate to bring it home to you.

These issues are, as one would expect, the result of the government's billion-pound dictats and involve two projects. First, the great Learning Platform debacle. Second is the Managed Service scam. Both are compulsory, neither are popular...

Learning Platforms

There is no need to go into this in detail again. Everyone has to have one, vendors are falling over themselves to lock Local Authorities into their products, none are compatible with any other, and Ofsted says virtually no-one is using them.

The problem is ostensibly that there is no content. Well thanks to the NorthWest Grid for Learning there soon will be through the National Digital Resource Bank, a project which will back-end all LPs. This is truly A GOOD THING(TM). The real problem though lies with human nature.

Humans are a most cooperative, trusting, helpful, suspicious, competitive, selfish, paradox of a creature and there is a simple rule for those who pretend to governance: 'don't go against the grain of human nature'. We all, seriously, all, have a 'what's in it for me?' process running in the background all the time doing a kind of virtual bookkeeping. The 'what's in it for me?' question is always asked, if only subconsciously.

This is not as crude as mere selfishness or cash. In fact unless you work in a bank it is quite unusual. For some, a nod of genuine acknowledgement is sufficient reward for massive generosity... ask any Open Source developer or parent for that matter.

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