IT row as city pulls the plug on school

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A ROW has broken out over a school computer system after it was disconnected from the city-wide schools’ network.

Parents say the move to pull the plug on Leith Academy is threatening their children’s education.

The controversy comes after the school was told it needed a new computer server, a piece of equipment used to share and store large computer files.

Instead of going through the city’s IT provider BT/Syntegra, which the school board claims could have cost up to 29,000, a 6000 machine was bought from an independent supplier.

Now city education chiefs have told the school the "unapproved" equipment has to be disconnected as it poses a security risk to the network.

School board chairwoman Sandra Walker said: "At the moment kids cannot start building up files they need for their exams and that could have an adverse affect on pupils."

The board claims the headteacher was told by BT/Syntegra that it was up to the school to provide a replacement server, but BT/Syntegra and the city education department say no such instruction was given.

Now the school has had to resort to an older system which the school board says is incapable of storing files for exams in craft design and technology, computing, and business studies.

Mrs Walker said: "I understand Syntegra have put forward a possible solution to the headteacher, but it would be an interim solution to relieve the problem at Leith Academy.

"This is part of a city-wide problem and what we really need is to try and look at a city-wide solution."

A city council spokesman said:

"Connecting unapproved equipment to the council network may create a risk for all students and council IT users across the city.

"To protect the network, BT had no choice but to disconnect this server.

"BT is in direct contact with Leith Academy to find a suitable solution as a matter of urgency and we aim to resolve the situation as soon as possible to ensure the educational experience for all students continues at its high standard."

However Brian Davison, another member of the school board, denied the new computer posed a security risk.

Mr Davison said: "At the end of the summer term, the school was informed by BT/Syntegra that a main server would need to be replaced because it was no longer capable of supporting the tasks it was needed for.

"At that time, BT replied that the server was not covered by the BT contract, and the school would therefore be responsible for replacing it.

"Since quotes for new servers through BT had been as high as 29,000, Leith Academy obtained quotes from other suppliers, and settled on an Apple machine from the company subcontracted by BT to maintain all other Apple equipment in the education estate.

"This company delivered, installed and configured the machine at a cost of 6000."

The city’s Lib Dem education spokesman Jim Lowrie said: "There’s been a lot of concern about this contract at a number of schools and what I would like is a list of those schools that are having problems and details of their concerns.

"I think we need more central support for those schools where there are problems. It is not fair to expect them to pay for it from their own budgets."