So, you're about to start a new job as leader or manager of educational ICT. Just over a year ago we published a list of things you could do in order to make an effective start. This tied in with a series about making a good impression, by Alison Skymes.
Here's the second instalment of a new two-parter on the same theme, with 21 suggestions. There are eleven new suggestions today; the first ten were published here.
Start a review of the department's resources bank
There's not much point in having a great scheme of work if the resources look dated or simply won't do the job. If you liken this to a home decoration project, you may have a brilliant plan on paper, but if your paintbrushes are past their use-by date you will find it much harder to do the plan justice.
Start a review of security arrangements
This broad heading covers a whole range of things. Where are software licences kept? Where and how are staff and student passwords stored? How accessible is the server room? Are the rooms and laptop trolleys kept locked or otherwise secure?
Who has the keys to the computer rooms and other equipment?
If it's you or a member of your team, that is a recipe for real inconvenience for both the keyholder and anyone wanting to gain access. How about asking the school receptionist to keep them instead?
Identify the staff who wish to get involved
Is there a member of staff who is passionate about computer graphics and would run a club? Are there teachers who would welcome the chance to teach a lesson a week of ICT? It's a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open. One of the best teachers who ever worked in my department was a PE specialist who wanted to have a go at teaching ICT. She was later joined by a history specialist.
Develop a basic introduction to the department
This does not have to be War and Peace; in fact, it will be more effective if it is very short and to the point. How do people book a slot in the computer room? How do they borrow a digital camera? What should they do if they forget their password? Who is who in the department, and in technical support? This is the sort of information that new staff and students want to know.
Carry out an equipment audit
What hardware does the school possess, what are the serial numbers, where is it, and how old is it? This information is crucial both for planning the best way of allocating resources between areas, but also for planning for equipment replacement. Serial numbers will be needed should you have equipment stolen in a break-in.
Carry out a software audit
What applications are on the school's network? What is each one for? What age ranges are they suitable for? How can a teacher access them? As well as informing staff where programs are that they may wish to use, this sort of information can also help to prevent other teachers from buying programs that the school has already.
Develop a booklet (or booklets) of what's available in school
Drawing on the two audits just described, such booklets can be really helpful in getting newcomers to the school familiar with what they can make use of, and where they have to go in order to do so.
Have a suggestions box or book or wiki
Perhaps it would be a good idea to state in writing that you will consider all suggestions, but not necessarily implement them! It would be good to let people know that you have seen and considered their suggestions, because people like to feel that they have been listened to.
Putting a suggestion box in place can be a good thing to do if you have a particular problem that is proving difficult to resolve. Sometimes people come up with really good solutions that you will probably not have thought of for yourself because of being too close to the issue.
Create a booklet or poster describing the procedures for using the room
Eg whether all computers should be switched off when the lesson is over. (Sometimes it's better to have them left on until the end of the morning session and the end of the afternoon session, as that can save time at the start of the lesson -- and may use less energy in some circumstances.
Get on top of your finances
What's your annual spending allowance? How much is left? What has the money been spent on? What should it have been spent on? Is there a separate allowance for capital spending, eg replacing computers after three years?
Explore the staff facilities
What do the staff have for their own exclusive use? Is there a computers and printer in the staffroom, for instance? Are all teachers given a laptop as soon as they start? What is the quality of the facilities for staff use?
Are there any that you think I've left out? Please let me know what you think of this list, and of any you think are missing.