A Chief Information Officer (CIO) perspective of a secondary school

I have recently taken on a substantive component of the Digital Information Officer role at Wellington Esat Girls College. (Think CIO without the paper.) This is essentially 10 hours each week which means I keep my day job as a teacher albeit with reduced teaching load. When describing WEGC from a CIO perspective key points are:

  • The school exists to support student learning in a safe environment.
  • The number of people (staff and students) is 1,200 with multiple devices and operating systems. Around 1,050 of these people (students) will have their attendance validated each day and if they are not where they should be in the morning their parents will be texted.
  • The school community is highly diverse in terms of culture. Not so much on gender…
  • We also have a Special Needs Unit (name changing soon) and He Huarahi Tamariki (Teenage Pregnancy Unit ).
  • The school is highly dependent on systems and the network to carry out teaching and learning. Critical times are school hours and just prior to non-negotiable assessment hand in dates and times. Just like businesses, if the systems go down or the network does away then not a lot can be done in some classes.)
  • IT operations are outsourced to a national IT support organisation. Like many outsourcing arrangements, however, contracts still need to be managed, decisions made, policy set and ICT strategy determined. You need to have the capability to manage the contract.
  • The Payroll operation is also outsourced to Novapay although knowledgeable people are required to administer the system at the school.
  • Currently, WEGC uses well over 30 systems with a range of data flows between several of them. These systems range from student administration to learning management to careers advice through to security cameras and Internet monitoring. And of course, we have a website, mobile apps, portals and a social media presence.
  • The school has significant obligations with regard to privacy, security and records management. Maintaining privacy and trust is critical.
  • There is around 20% turnover of people per year, albeit at a predictable time ie end of the year… the start of the year.
  • Stakeholders include staff, students, whanau, former students, MoE, ERO, NZQA, local schools, Community of Learning, and local iwi. No doubt there are others including Child Welfare agencies, Health etc…
  • Every few years the school is appraised by the Education Review Office.
  • And did I mention that there is a $40m rebuild going on, and has been for a couple of years now? (= construction site within the campus). Once finished there will be lots of new technology embedded in the new building.

Fairly interesting and arguably challenging role. I wonder how many schools have or are going to need a similar role going forward?


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