1) Why won't students be using GPOs on their laptops? Rather depends on the individual institution's setup, doesn't it?
2) I'm the network manager at a school that has the School's Agreement and for us it makes much more sense to use it but I agree that other licensing agreements may be better for other institutions. However, if educational institutions are going for "it's the latest, so we'll install it" then they are stupid. Although I have had the disks to install Vista and Office 2007 for some time I haven't gone anywhere near either yet. 300 PCs, 100 laptops of various makes and specifications run XP and Office 2003 with no problems and I ensure that any new hardware is capable of running Vista but also has drivers for XP. I believe that the best solution where I work is to ensure that it is currently reliable but also as future proof as possible within budgetary constraints.
3) BECTA are the organisation that decided on standards for Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and then happily allowed one of their preferred vendors to ignore those rules. This was reported to the European Commission in January and reported on these pages.
When we were looking at VLE solutions from different providers BECTA accreditation wasn't really an issue, ease of use and interoperability with other software was.