IT infrastructure in schools: outsource or keep in house?

Independent schools are unique, active users of IT. They are keen to attract new pupils, even if they enjoy a long waiting list, and to do this they must demonstrate competitive advantage not only in terms of educational achievement but in the facilities on offer as well.

Traditionally this is in areas such as sports, music and the arts together with accommodation (for staff and pupils), patronage and future development. But we can no longer ignore IT in this mix.

Whether this is measured by the school’s use of wireless technology, educational delivery, security or control of internet access or simply the visual appearance of large screens displaying the latest sports activities or events for the next two weeks, it doesn’t matter.

The fact is that IT plays a large part in the talks given to prospective parents as they tour your school and an ancient laptop or 15” screen will certainly leave the wrong impression.

Growing parental emphasis on IT should not be a surprise – it now directly affects the way we work, communicate and play and to be competitive in the future, children must be proficient with IT from a young age. It is therefore imperative that not only is the IT provision within a school sufficiently robust to cope with the demands placed on it but that the staff supporting and maintaining it are similarly capable.

So, here are some points to consider when assessing whether onsite personnel or outsourced education IT support would serve your school better:

  • Necessity: Nearly every school must have someone responsible for their IT infrastructure. At what point should it be a specialist?
  • Recruitment: Hiring IT staff can often be awkward as the interviewers are often at a disadvantage in terms of knowledge or over reliant on simple instincts
  • Value for money: Most schools have an IT cost line in their current and strategic budgets. But could it go further?
  • Responsibility: The IT buck stops with the Bursar
  • Demand: Competitive education today increasingly relies on IT

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