Thank God it's Friday

28th March 2003 at 00:00
Monday It's network upgrade day and our 17 new computers arrive. We disconnect the old workstations, sort the leads into spaghetti-like piles and bundle handfuls of mice into a box. Unpacking the new machines produces a room awash with polystyrene; I stack the empty boxes into a ceiling-high pile. The resulting junk sculpture over-excites key stage 1 as they queue for lunch.

Tuesday The boxes have vanished overnight, thanks to the caretaker's skilled negotiations with the bin men. The engineer arrives and spends the morning lost among the computers, a mobile phone clamped to his ear. There are problems: only some of the software has been loaded on to the server.

The engineer frowns and disappears.

Wednesday The engineer returns and this time everything seems to be going to plan. He explains that he is allocating the "packages". He paces the computer room glaring at the thick blue line that moves snail-like across the screen, marking the progress of the work. "Almost done," he says at 3pmI at 5pm... and again at 6.30pm. "At least the traffic will be easier now," he says.

Thursday Trouble - we have two engineers. The second has come to install the administrative software and he's not pleased that the work is behind schedule. The reason for the delay is discovered: "You've got a 10 meg switch, not a 100. It's like squeezing a balloon through a straw." All that cash and we're no better off than before.

Friday Engineer number two is back to change the switch. "It's more intelligent than the hub," he explains. It costs pound;800 - this could buy three new trikes for the nursery, a shower of rainsticks and half a shelf of Where the Wild Things Are. Time to start saving for the upgrade.

David Burrows is an Oxfordshire headteacher

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