Apologies to the fans of Dad’s Army out there, but the latest GLOW development has more than a whiff of desperation about it. Education Scotland chief Bill Maxwell sent out a letter to Directors of Education and key reference/ stakeholder engagement groups at the end of the day last Friday. As I’ve been assured by his PA that it is now public, I’m not breaking any confidences by sharing it. Here’s a Dropbox link to said letter.
As promised by Mike Russell whilst defending the indefensible at Holyrood last week, Bill has offered a raft of ‘help and support’ measures to hard pressed local authorities in an attempt to ameliorate the chaos caused by the way in which Education Scotland has planned, executed and communicated the migration project from GLOW V1 to it’s new home on Microsoft’s office 365 platform. It’s important to stress here that this mess is not the fault of either Microsoft or RM (the company carrying out the migration project). This is entirely down to Education Scotland and the senior figures (some now departed) who promised the ICTEx group that migration had been planned, risk assessed, and would proceed smoothly to time-scale.
In his letter (which is a triumph of spin over substance) Dr Maxwell states that the two versions of GLOW will run alongside each other for six months, confirming what Mike Russell announced in the parliament. Now, if this follows the completion of the migration than it’s effectively yet another contract extension for RM. I have to ask, at what cost? The last extension came in at a whopping £500K a month. If this one cost the same, than that’s a further £3M spent covering up for Education Scotland’s mistakes… I’ve already detailed these in another blog post. How much more public money do we have to throw up the wall at this whole sorry saga?
Most of what Bill says in his letter is just fluff and window dressing, trying to posit a position of a communication process which has up to now failed to adequately function, particularly with regard to the amount of work which will be required to set up the new share point sites in every single local authority and school. Some such folks are now having to spend some of their weekend and holiday time desperately trying to do this for their schools! That he also tries to subtly shift the responsibility for migration and subsequent rebuilding of every single GLOW sites onto hard-pressed local authorities and schools will also not have escaped their notice. Just where are the thousands of hours and all the money this will cost going to come from Bill?
He also talks about the new developments supposedly being delivered through the new Office 365 environment and he gives the example of the Learning catalogue. He might be interested to note that this was developed before the new platform came into use (it was actually built in WordPress).
Education Scotland were advised earlier this year by myself and others that content would be key to getting people to engage with GLOW. This advice also came with the opinion that they needed a ‘face’ who would get out and about around the country, speaking to users and taking on board their suggestions and complaints. I’m pleased to see that they appear to have heeded this advice to some degree but there is still a long way to go,particularly on content for secondary school subjects. What they have abjectly failed to do is heed the advice of experts over migration challenges and workarounds. That Mike Russell was forced to have to stand up in parliament and answer questions from the opposition which had arisen from a teacher in Dumfries and Galloway contacting their MSP evidences the complete failure of adequate communication. I fear for those LA’s who have invested heavily in the GLOW (WordPress) blog as their ePortfolio vehicle..
So, Bill Maxwell sets out his response to the disaster in his letter. What he should be considering, I would suggest, is his own position. As the top chap at Education Scotland, the buck stops well and truly with him. One of the emerging themes of the whole sorry saga is a complete unwillingness to address the issue of accountability. This was something I wanted some answers on at our last Key Reference Group meeting. This was not without support, and it is something which appears to be gaining traction from around the country as teachers and LA education staff realise that yet more public money has been wasted, this time by the GLOW migration project team at Education Scotland.
It is time for Bill Maxwell to recognise this, and take the responsibility others appear to be avoiding. He’s the boss, and he should now seriously consider the credibility of his own position as well as that of others on his senior management team. Will he take this advice? I’m not hopeful, as another of Corporal Jones’s catch phrases from Dad’s Army comes to mind… “They don’t like it up ‘em”.
Its time that Captain Mainwaring did the honourable thing and fell on his own sword.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Bill Maxwell
, Education Scotland
, Key Contacts
, Office 365