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ICT Funding – would you take a punt? December 15, 2009

Posted by IaninSheffield in Management, TELIC.
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How would you describe the level of funding for ICT in your school?  Massive?  Manageable?  Miniscule?  How do your figures compare with the research from BESA or Kable?  Are you enjoying enhanced funding as part of the BSF programme?  And how are those funds deployed within school?  Equitably?  Sustainably?  Transparently?

I think we enjoy a good level of funding from our parent organisation.  We’ve spent a great deal of effort in recent years ensuring that ICT expenditure is intelligent, sustainable, accountable, targeted and as effective as possible. Our self review and life-cycle management processes have helped us provide a flexible, well-supported ICT estate which fulfills our current needs.  As a partnership, we’re on a quest to ensure fiscal efficiency and that ICT expenditure produces a measurable and sustainable impact on teaching and learning.  As a Yorkshireman, born of a Scot, being careful with one’s finances has a certain . . . appeal.  So I get it.  I’m ‘on message.’  I’m ‘with the programme.’  And you can probably see this coming,  BUT . . .

I have a worry; a nagging concern and it’s about ‘wiggle room.’  We now have our finances pretty well tied down, driven by our vision for ICT, linked closely with school, departmental and ICT development plans . . . as indeed they should be.  My concern though is that by accounting for every penny, we’ve not left ourselves any innovation room.  By that I mean funds we can allocate to explore the potential arising from bright ideas, light bulb moments, inspiration.  We can liken these to what Gartner refer to as ‘Technical Triggers’ in their Hype Cycle.  However whereas the Hype Cycle describes the stages leading to an ultimately successful outcome,  innovation can be rather more fickle and certainly less predictable.  So allocating funds this way incurs an element of risk.  So what do we do about the innovative teacher who has a brilliant idea for using an emerging technology in an exciting new way?  Do we deny them the funds because we hadn’t planned for it in our budget?  Or do we set aside a proportion of our budget for just such eventualities, knowing  full well that those ideas won’t all bear fruit, but the potential gains from those that do, pay back dividends.

In these times of economic instability, would you take a punt?

Or can you afford not to?

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Comments»

1. ianinsheffield - December 15, 2009

Wy couldn’t I find CC image of a rugby punt 😦

2. John McLear - December 15, 2009

I’m a yorkshire man with a scouse dad.. I’m as tight as you 😛 Or is it thrifty? I’m looking into the same thing in Primary Schools trying to find where overspend is and where there isn’t enough “spend for impact”. The scale is different so the depth of thought and this is mostly due to innovation being provided from third parties providing solutions free or/and at cost to fill a schools needs.

The funding in the schools I work with is okay but too much is spent on only a few large providers and not enough small, innovative companies taking risks or chances.

ianinsheffield - December 16, 2009

Thanks for the comments John; good to get a different perpsective. Your 2nd para comes back to the issue of safety I guess, though from a slightly different angle – the perception is that larger companies provide a lower level of risk . . . and therefore less opportunity for innovation?

And of course from a school perspective, the risk is not only a financial one. It takes a brave individual to embark on a risky learning activity (small or larger scale) when you’re judged on criteria which are achievable through safe, tried and tested techniques.

3. Nick - December 16, 2009

All good questions, Mr G. At the last round of discussions about funding I asked the question about how expenditure on ‘development’ funding was going to be monitored… I think the answer might give you your ‘wiggle room’. Essentially, it isn’t.

Now that’s not to say that responsible people such as you and I aren’t going to ensure the funds are spent carefully and in pursuit of our stated intentions but there are often several ways to skin a cat and some are more financially efficient than others. As long as financial efficiency doesn’t hobble educational efficiency then wouldn’t we be irresponsible not to find creative ways to use any surplus we might be able to generate from savings as the ‘development’ process rolls out?

ianinsheffield - December 16, 2009

Thanks for the feedback Nick. You’re absolutely right of course and I’ve certainly made the attempt to be as ‘creative’ as possible in the bidding process. My worry then is that that’s been at the expense of the rigour that I’d normally bring to bear on the planning aspects. It’s a learning process for us all as this first time through plays out and I’m sure we’ll learn a bunch which will make things better next time.


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