Create a simple, reusable model for primary schools' IT infrastructure

Teachers are specialists in education. Not IT infrastructure. 

Many of the city's primary schools have a patchwork of IT supporting the school.  Systems don't talk to each other, some systems don't work, teachers get frustrated and parents get frustrated.  Students get put off IT at an early age.

Idea: Take one primary school in the city.  Bring in an IT enterprise architect with transformation experience to create a simple, reusable framework for school IT infrastructure, using the selected school as a test bed.  Implement the infrastructure, perhaps approaching technology providers where possible to get discounts for participating in this pilot program (in return for being able to feature it as a case study).  Refine the framework from the learning.  Ensure the framework also has a model to help the governors plan for refreshing the technology or extending the framework year over year.

Focus on building the simplest and best value-for-money systems for students, teachers, governors and parents.  Minimise the amount of technology within the four walls of the school, using cloud technologies where possible.  Transform the students' experience of IT and empower parents to know much more about what their children are doing in school through technology.  And make planning and tracking easier for teachers.  Highlight gaps in technology where these exist today and report these back to hardware and software companies.  Offer training to governors about IT strategy and planning.

And then, offer the framework to all Local Authority maintained schools as part of the service contract.  Sell the framework to academies.  Offer consulting support for implementing part of the framework as a service.

Key is that the framework is realistic:

1. affordable

2. modular - framework doesn't have to be implemented all in one go, can be bitten off in pieces

3. simple (e.g. cloud-based in preference to managing onsite servers or data distributed in machines across the school)



Why the contribution is important

- Improve the quality of education in Bristol

- Improve the value for money of IT spend in our schools, if not cost-savings in the medium to long term.  

- Reduce stress on teachers in Bristol

- Establish Bristol as a leader in building cost-effective and simple technology infrastructures for schools

- Create an IT leadership and transformation service which is available for academies or other local authorities can purchase in - a revenue generator

- Opportunity to demonstrate to parents, educators, employers and Ofsted that Bristol is serious about creating excellence in education

by user419622 on December 07, 2013 at 11:21PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.2
Based on: 9 votes


  • Posted by user572337 December 10, 2013 at 07:22

    I love the idea and it makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately I just can't see enough schools going for it to make it financially viable. Schools are notoriously independent in the way that they do things and it is very easy for one member of staff to insist that they need something different for their work and go off and buy a piece of kit. That is what leads to the patchwork set ups. However I do hope that I am wrong.
  • Posted by user419622 December 10, 2013 at 18:36

    Thanks for the feedback! I agree that schools will have some unique elements, will have different funding, and will all be starting with different patchwork systems. That's why this would be a framework. With a modular design to the framework, schools could use the parts they need, in bite-size pieces. For example, perhaps one school would just implement the teaching and learning elements of the framework and keep their own systems for parent communication, infrastructure, and administration. Perhaps another school would just take away the core principles (e.g. how to evaluate and transition to cloud-based tools) and select their own tools.

    The local authority maintained schools already pay for services from the local authority, so this could be included in the set of services provided to them, enhancing the service and improving the value for money for this spend.

    But, it's just an idea, introducing it in this forum for feedback, so thanks again.
  • Posted by user616766 December 13, 2013 at 15:34

    Anne, this looks very interesting. Please follow me on Twitter if you are interested in discussion. I am @kobb.
  • Posted by user660183 December 16, 2013 at 09:04

    Like Elaine, I think this is a good idea in theory (and school IT worked a bit like this a few years ago) but in order to work it would need to be adopted by a large majority of schools and I don't see that happening.

    Having a disjointed, mishmash of systems is no better for the suppliers than it is for schools but they (particularly the growing portion of Academies) don't want to have systems forced upon them by the LA and are free to source ICT solutions from whichever providers they want to. In order for the idea to work, schools would have to give-up a lot of this freedom.
  • Posted by user419622 December 18, 2013 at 18:18

    A framework may suggest tools, but it is more an architecture. Think about it in terms of house design. Generally the house building process is well understood and the architects plans describe how to build the house using current best practices. The builders can choose the make of boiler though.
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