Pulling Your Hair Out Trying to Manage a School Network?

Written by: Paul Sweeney | December 13, 2017

In 2017's The State of Networking in Education report, your peers revealed their biggest network-related frustrations. What are they—and can you relate?

The causes vary, but everyone knows how it feels to be stressed at work.

Your chest gets tight. Your skin tingles. Sometimes, fire erupts from your mouth (or steam from your ears). Whatever the symptoms, they’re rooted in very real workplace frustrations. You’re never going to eliminate stress from an organisation, but there are steps you can take to manage and reduce it.

Step one? Identifying the causes.

2017's The State of Networking in Education report revealed your peers’ biggest network-related frustrations. So what are they—and how can you combat them?

trying to manage a school network

You weren’t satisfied with...

5. ...your network’s security


Only 21% of respondents rated their network as being ‘very secure’, showing you’re concerned at best about the protection your network is offering its users—students and staff.

4. ...your network readiness


28% said their network isn’t future proofed for the increase in network use over the coming year. As network usage increases, stress levels will likely climb with it.

“I want ICT to provide an outstanding customer service at all times”, said Reece Percival, Head of ICT at Bedales School, when we caught up with him earlier this year. “ICT is at its best when its integral but silent at the school. I want it to be an enhancer for the school, help it operate more efficiently, as well as integrate with teaching and learning.”

Read the full story around Bedales School's network transformation.

3. ...the standard of essential equipment


We all know how frustrating it is when something doesn’t work as it should, and this was telling in the report. 56% agreed that ‘Poor quality, faulty, or out-of date IT equipment is one the main reasons for teachers not utilising technology in schools’.

“It was reliable but very old—teachers didn’t like using It,” said Percival, of the school’s IT infrastructure. “It wasn’t particularly customer friendly and generally the team were spending a lot of their time fixings things rather than enhancing IT around the school.”

2. ...the level of support from senior staff


No one likes to feel ignored or undervalued—especially at work. Yet 71% of IT professionals reported struggling to convince senior staff of the benefits of a network upgrade.

1. ...your budget allowances


Education IT departments across the UK are feeling the squeeze. The budgets of 72% of secondary schools / academies have decreased over the last year, leading to fewer resources, spending cuts, and less staffing.

Trying to manage a school network?

Instead of telling you to learn how to relax or recharge your batteries, we’ve made five suggestions for practical solutions to the problems you’ve identified above. If you or your colleagues are familiar with any of them, we hope these help.

5. Improve network security by optimising and redistributing your network security policy

School policies have a tendency to sit unread in a filing cabinet or in small-print on a website. Revisit yours to make sure it is up to date, then promote it internally. You can make it reader-friendly to better engage young students (and busy staff).

4. Review your network performance

A network health check is designed to test and verify the critical components of the school network for reliability, performance, and any obvious security issues. This will highlight areas of critical vulnerability as well as areas that could become overburdened as network usage scales.

If you’re unsure how to carry this out or simply don’t have the time, we can help.

3. List and prioritise equipment upgrades

Fixing equipment on a case-by-case basis can be a substantial drain on time and resources. Instead, prioritise damaged or faulty equipment according to importance and ease of fix. This will also help to identify items that are beyond repair, informing future equipment purchases.

2. Prove the value and importance of network readiness

Strengthen your argument with facts and figures around your network’s performance. A network health check will reveal vulnerabilities and ceilings in capacity. Link these risk areas to classroom performance to drive home the importance of a robust and resilient network.

1. Invest in a stress ball

It’s a rare organisation, public or private, that doesn’t have budgeting challenges. Implementing the above tips will help you to make the most efficient use of the budget you do have.

Have your say

Our commitment to understanding the unique challenges faced in education has led us to produce an annual research report, the State of IT in Education.

The survey collects responses from top educational providers across the UK, resulting in a full report aimed at better understanding the challenges senior IT professionals face in this sector.

Take 10 minutes to contribute your opinion to the report, scheduled for release in early 2018, and gain insights as reported by the organisations themselves. Use these insights to inform key IT decisions for 2018, improving the state of IT for your education organisation and the pupils it benefits.

State of IT in Education

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