It’s not your computer

Not long ago, I was faced at another school I support with a situation where a teacher who had recently gone on maternity leave had to be pressured by management to return their laptop while they were away, so that their substitute had a laptop to use.

The ICT co-ordinator bemoaned the ignorant excuses they gave: “I don’t want people looking at my personal email or files!” This was someone who didn’t really understand that if you log on with a different account, you get different files and settings. This explanation had to be put to the teacher several times before she finally relented and brought the laptop in.

I listened and agreed with all of the ICT co-ordinator’s complaints, before pointing out that they need not have had the discussion at all. Management only needed to say one thing.

“This laptop is not yours. It is the school’s. We decide who uses it.”

Platitudes are relevant in certain situations, but the fact is, teachers in many schools seem to think that the laptop they are loaned is a perk of the job. It isn’t. If it was, it would be a taxable benefit. So, until they start paying tax on ‘their’ laptop, they can shut their cake-hole and comply with any request the school makes regarding that equipment’s use.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

8 responses to “It’s not your computer”

  1. Jon says :

    In most trades and professions you actually buy your own tools. If I was an IT coordinator I would probably have my own laptop as well as the school one!

  2. AngryTechnician says :

    I have to confess that the laptop I use is school property, simply because I can’t afford my own. It’s the same make and model as all the others we buy, albeit a slightly higher spec. Similarly, when I accepted my new position I didn’t negotiate over salary but did get agreement to buy a laptop for my use when I start. I’m happy with that arrangement because I fully understand that when I leave, my laptop stays, and I don’t feel like I’m compromising the needs of my job by skimping to save myself money.

    A lot of the other equipment I use is my own. All of my infrastructure cabling equipment is my own, and so is the combat vest I keep it all in…

  3. Reboot_Technician says :

    I don’t care when sacked or leaving staff don’t return their laptops. Most are old and a pain to support. You seem honourable our NM has at least two great ‘school’ laptops at home for his families use. Also some of our Deputy Heads have two laptops, one for them and one for their kids at Uni.

  4. AngryTechnician says :

    If you can produce evidence that is happening, then you shouldn’t be talking to me; you should be talking to your Head or Board of Governors. If you don’t trust them, you should be talking to your union who can pass details on anonymously to the proper authorities.

  5. Mr S says :

    I think most people understandably turn a blind eye to teachers keeping laptops that are eg. 5-7 years old.

    But when a school has a decent hardware replacement programme, such that no laptop onsite is over 3 years old, then yes – it’s quite outrageous that ex members of staff are keeping their school laptops.

    Like, “I’m a taxpayer how dare they” outrageous…

  6. Black Dog says :

    One of my schools had 15 laptops nicked. But the bastards left behind 2 ancient (win 98) laptops they insisted on using, despite the fact that they took 25 minutes to boot. I could have wept. Give them to the teachers, get some revenge.

    Half my teachers let their kids at home loose on their laptops. Result? Crapware infested, Limewire, and 6 Gb of .mp3’s on the desktop etc. I could go into the bribery business, too…….

  7. sigma says :

    Quote Blackdog
    “Half my teachers let their kids at home loose on their laptops. Result? Crapware infested, Limewire, and 6 Gb of .mp3’s on the desktop etc. I could go into the bribery business, too…….”

    Same at my school too. Unfortunately, the Head takes a soft line and insists that the laptops ARE a perk of the job. Now they want to have browser access to the SIMS data for the teachers at home, on their virus and trojan infested laptops…. and this is so wrong because of the security and privacy issues. I’m only the technician, what would I know….

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Feel free to point out that as of April 6, the maximum penalty for Data Protection violations has risen to £500,000. If SMT have been informed of the risks and choose to ignore them, the Board of Governors could easily claim that the school isn’t at fault, but that individuals policymakers are.