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The Northampton Academy is a new comprehensive school situated on the Billing Brook Road in Lings. There are 1300 students attending this school with the age range of these varying from 11-18 years.
Many business organisations use ICT in different ways depending on the type of organisation and how ICT can improve and help the business. The Northampton Academy is good example of a business that uses ICT in administration, in a more advanced and wider range of ways.
The Academy needs to be able to send out letters to parents providing information such as how well their child is doing in school, whether or not their child is displaying the right kinds of behaviour in school, or information on educational trips coming up which their child may be interested in or is a part of. Newsletters also need to be sent out providing the parent’s of each and every child in the Academy with information about forthcoming events, plans for the future and general information such as school term dates.
The variety of ways in which they use ICT in administration, are those such as at times like registration. The register will be taken by the teacher and each student marked present or absent, and then the register will be taken to reception where the staff will then feed it through an OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) machine. This saves time and effort of those that would otherwise have to type in the information of every student, saying whether or not they are present at school that day, so that each pupil’s attendance is recorded on their systems. With this information the computers will be able to work out each pupil’s percentage of attendance to put on individual records and also to enable them to keep on top of truancy and report attendance levels to parents.
The school has to keep a record of every pupil’s data on their databases which is all done through ICT and typed into the databases on their computers. These need to be able to be updated if a student has a change of address or a slight change of information. The contact details can be stored easily and found easily which means it is a lot quicker to search for information on each student. It is important for the information to be retrievable quickly because if a child is ill or is in urgent need of going home, then telephone numbers and emergency contact information on that student needs to be found as quickly as possible and the staff don’t have the time to be searching through paper files looking for that students information. Some of the information on each pupil is needed to be kept confidential, and because it is all recorded through computers, rather than having to be written out and stored in filing systems, which would take up much more room and time searching for information, it is easier to allow for that to happen. Each member of staff can be put at different levels of access on the administration system and password protection can be enabled to individual records so that only the people that need access to those files can retrieve the information.
Student and staff timetabling is arranged through ICT. They are produced through the software SIMs (Schools information management System). The computers store all the information about what year, ability level and lessons each pupil should be placed into and timetables for each and every student can be made. There has to be a teacher present at each lesson so teacher timetabling is also sorted through ICT. This way if there are errors made on an individual’s timetable or there is a mix-up somewhere, it doesn’t take long to correct it on the systems and re-print another one for the student or the member of staff.
Using the software on the computers, things such as sending out newsletters, sending letters home to parents and general word processing becomes a lot quicker and easier. They can be made professional by applying letterheads to each letter they send, and addresses can be mail merged to save time in having to find out names and addresses in manual filing systems.
Every so often, each child is issued with a report that informs their parents about how they are doing in school and monitors their academic learning. Instead of each teacher writing every pupils report out by hand, the report is typed out which saves a lot of time. There are templates that teachers can use which, again, saves time in typing out a different report for each and every individual, when sometimes that isn’t always necessary. This is all carried out through the use of ICT which is very useful, especially when reports are sent out to every student on a regular basis.
Another beneficial way of using ICT in The Northampton Academy is carried out in the finance office. The financial department uses Microsoft Excel software to store information on every area of finance. This programme allows the use of formulae which automatically calculates and updates the changes made in finance so that they can keep track of how much money they are spending. Microsoft Excel provides great benefit to the school when it comes to financing because of this use of formulae. If you need to change a figure, then the spreadsheet recalculates everything again for you, saving a lot of time. The school has a budget which the finance office has to keep track of and make sure they keep to it and not over-spend.
To do this each department is allocated a certain amount of money that they can spend over a given amount of time, which they can use to buy resources or other equipment they need in their department area. Another important area the finance office deals with is staff wages. On their systems they keep track of how much each member of staff is being paid, when they need to be paid, and it will update all that information on the spreadsheets whenever a member of staff gets given a pay-rise or any changes are made to their pay. The financial department deals with making sure every member of staff gets paid the correct amounts when they are due for their next pay. The school provide a various number of different educational trips that take place over the school year. The finance office has to keep a system that shows them how much money each pupil has paid and for which trip, and how much more they need to pay. So that the pupil is aware of this also, the financial department issues each individual with a receipt. This information is stored on spreadsheets and every time the pupil pays in a sum of money it is changed on their spreadsheets and totals are automatically updated.
The hardware used throughout The Northampton Academy varies depending on whether you’re part of the administration team or a pupil at the Academy. This will depend on the workstation used. The station used by the administration team is a Dell OptiPlex GX1. This includes:
* 15″ or 17″ CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor. These are big and bulky and take up more space. The administration staff have more room on their desks in general, because the desk only needs to cater for a single person, so they can manage with having a bigger monitor on their desk.
* CPU (Central Processing Unit)
* Intel Pentium 2 or 3 processor
* <265Mb RAM
* CD Drive
* Windows 2000
The station used by the pupils at the Academy is a Dell OptiPlex GX270. This includes:
* 15″ TFT (Thin Film Transistor) monitor. These are flat screens, which are small and compact. The students use these monitors because they need more working space on the computer desks as they don’t get a desk to themselves, individually. This way more computers and more students can fit into the classroom.
* CPU (Central Processing Unit)
* Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 2.6Ghz
* 40Gb Hard Disk Drive
* CD Drive
* Windows XP Pro
The workstations used by the administration team aren’t as quick and efficient as the ones used by the students. The Dell OptiPlex GX1 has all the hardware needed and is suitable for the needs of those in administration.
The workstations used by the pupils have a faster running time – with it running at 2.6 GHz. The memory of the computer is larger, to store all the work completed by students. The reasoning behind the students using 15″ TFT monitors is so that space in the classroom is used more efficiently and so more students and more monitors can fit into the classroom. This applies to the tower box also. They are small and placed under the computer desk so that the only things on the desk itself are the monitor, the mouse and the keyboard. This allows space on the desk for students to have other things out and have more room in front of them. Each computer has a mouse and a keyboard. These aren’t cordless, because it avoids the trouble caused if they were misplaced, lost or perhaps, in an extreme event, stolen.
In the classrooms, The Northampton Academy uses black and white LaserJet printer and colour Inkjet printer. Inkjet printers spray magnetically charged ink through a fine nozzle onto each sheet of paper, where a LaserJet printer uses a laser beam. The black and white LaserJet printers are used on a more regular basis simply because it is a lot cheaper to run. It prints very quickly and makes them efficient in classes where a lot of pages needed to be printed out by each student. When colour prints are needed, although the colour printers are not used much due to the cost of them and because of the very slow speed they print at, colour Inkjet printers are used because they are a lot cheaper to buy than they would be if colour LaserJet printers were used.
The Northampton Academy has Microsoft Office 2003 software installed throughout the school which is used by both students and members of the administration team. The different programs used are:
MS Office 2003
– MS Word
– Used by the staff to produce letters which can then be sent home to parents.
– Used by the students for GCSE coursework when typing up essays or producing work in various subjects.
– Teachers can prepare worksheets to be handed to the students in their class.
– MS Excel
– Used for calculating sums of money in the finance department, and keeping track of school budgets.
– Used by students for ICT GCSE coursework.
– MS PowerPoint
– Used to create slide show presentations by teachers of various subjects which can then be shown to students to provide them with help and information in specific areas of the subject.
– MS Access
– Used to store information on every student in the school on a pupil database.
– Used for mail merging.
– Used by students for ICT GCSE coursework.
– MS Publisher
Desk Top Publishing
– Used to produce newsletters which can be sent to inform parents of upcoming events on a regular basis.
– Used by students for ICT GCSE coursework.
– MS Visio
e.g. Flow Charts
– MS InfoPath
Used to create forms for data capture
Microsoft Office 2003 isn’t the only software used throughout the school. SIMs is used to a high extent in the administration office. SIMs (Schools information management System) is a full database which:
– Allows for the producing of timetabling for both staff and students.
– Produces set lists
– Is used for pupil monitoring, which are carried out and sent home to parents every 6 weeks using OMR (Optical mark Recognition).
– Is used for registration. The register is taken and the sheets are read by the optical mark reader machine. The data is then transferred into the database and matched to individual students. From this absence lists can be produced and followed up. The machine can then perform calculations which show attendance percentages for each student.
– Allows examination entries to be recorded for each, individual student and also produces exam timetables for them.
– Manages the pupil databases. Each student has a UPN (Unique Personal Number) which they are recognized by.
To keep track of the money coming in and out of the school, the department budgets and the whole school budget, the finance office staff use specialist financial software (a database) called Hebron. This manages all the finance information, except from one area due to the fact that Hebron doesn’t contain an order tracking system, and so Excel is used for this.
As well as the different programs used in various ways for doing various different things, Windows XP offers other software which can be used.
– File Management
– Internet Explorer
This allows for the Academy to be fully equipped and use every piece of software they need and will benefit from.
ICT is used widely across the school. It is used to a large extent in the ICT department to enable students to learn and complete work using the software on the computers. Every ICT room has a projector to allow for presentations and slide-shows to project onto a screen for the whole class to see and make use of. Cross-curricular use of ICT across the school has become a much bigger thing, which now means that every teacher is receiving a personal laptop; the use of ICT is specified under the National Curriculum and GCSE/A Level specifications; and the school is making use of many mini-suites and classroom PC’s and trolleys. Interactive whiteboards are used in various classrooms, and the use of these is becoming larger by the day.
The school is able to run more efficiently from the administration side of things as well, thanks to the great use of ICT. Letters can be produced and sent to parents using mail merge with the information retrieved from the pupil information database. As there are 1300 students in the school, the use of standard letters and templates comes in very useful. Clear and accurate information is kept about each student which is easy to find and can be easily updated using the database rather than using a manual filing system, such as lots of paper files. Books for educational purposes can be ordered by using the electronically stored order forms and being filled in using formulae to prevent mathematical errors occurring. The finance office manages the flow of money coming in and out of the school at a much quicker and easier rate because of the use of ICT. They make use of spreadsheets and specialist software in which they type in formulas to avoid repetitive tasks of adding up, calculating the averages and percentages and totalling sums of money, especially in cases where the information has to be changed.
To keep the school functioning and communicating effectively, teachers now have Ranger software which allows for them to take over a student’s workstation from anywhere in the school if they are on inappropriate websites. The teachers can also send or post work straight to the student’s monitor using this software, which can help student’s to improve their work and allows for the teachers to monitor each student at any time to observe whether they are working hard.
In general, ICT is used massively throughout The Northampton Academy which means the school is benefiting greatly by every aspect of ICT.
Already, by the year 2004, the use of ICT in schools is fantastic. And to think that ICT is expanding and improving every day, makes you wonder what the future could hold!
Lings Music Ltd
Lings Music Ltd is a small independent company situated in the Weston Favell Centre with just the one branch. There are only 7 members of staff who keep it up and running. One of these is the manager and the other 6 are just ordinary working staff. The company isn’t tied to any other big music stores; it is just a single, independently run, small company. Lings Music Ltd specialises mainly in pop music, but offers other categories of music. Because this is such a small company, they are unable to afford the latest equipment or any other expensive ICT equipment, so this means they have a limited amount of access to ICT in general. Lings Music Ltd do make use of some ICT but what they do make use of is very small, simply because they don’t have the money to buy exceptional ICT equipment, so they make use of the basic hardware and software.
The Microsoft package Lings Music Ltd uses is Microsoft Office XP, although they do not make use of all the software provided. They word process the lists of CDs they have in stock; use Microsoft Word or Publisher to produce basic flyers, leaflets, faxes, memos, letters and newsletters which help to promote their small business and advertise a little further. Lings Music Ltd also makes use of Microsoft Excel to calculate the staff wages, tax and National Insurance which saves them having to calculate everything themselves, manually, and instead use the automatic calculations provided through Excel. This saves a lot of time considering the staff number is small. Outlook Express is installed to enable for them to send emails and receive emails, which they can use to promote their business and sales to previous customers. But the main use they make out of Outlook Express is to email their suppliers to place orders to keep their stock at the correct levels.
Lings Music Ltd only has one stand alone PC which is used by the manager. This means that it is not networked and if they introduced another PC into their business they would find it very difficult to update, access or share any files through the system. The one computer they do use is a Dell Pentium III with an 800 x 600 14″ TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen equipped with an Inkjet printer. With this all the hardware is used and made use of.
Lings Music Ltd has managed to stay up and running as a small independent business for a fair amount of time now, but if they were to ever make the company any bigger and try to promote more and make more sales, then they would experience a lot of problems when it came to networking, the amount of software they use and the amount of PC’s they use in their business. The manager and the 6 members of staff who run Lings Music Ltd have managed to get by with the equipment they do use, but could find themselves experiencing problems in the future as ICT expands and improves and they can’t afford the latest ICT equipment.