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back to article School IT quango to be expelled

Becta, the education IT procurement quango, is to be scrapped as part of the new government's £6.2bn cuts this year, announced by George Osborne this morning. Schools are expected to get more control over their technology purchases as a result. Becta did not buy computers and software for schools, but instead drew up framework …

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Good riddance

A total waste

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Good Riddance

I work with dyslexic students and they are given laptops funded by the Disabled Students Allowance and they often cost more than if you just sent the student down to PC World.

Without Becta, I'd estimate that there'll be about £300-£500 of funding per student that can be used for tuition and support which is far more useful.

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Flame

£112.5m annual budget

to arrange vendor contracts and advise on desktop specs & software packages? GTFO. I knew quangos take the p*ss but that's just insulting.

It should be like 3 qualified IT guys (server, network & software) in an office with a budget of £200k p.a. for the lot (pay, office rental etc.).

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Reality check

Do you think the Tory's would see one of their own out on their ass? Na mate, if the budget was 200K, it would be 190K for the manager (old school chum, ya?) plus 5K each for a couple of part time IT guys.

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190k not needed

the old school chum has already been given a job as chancellor

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Cuts

Of course the cuts will be felt at 'the coalface' of education ie. teachers, buildings, resources etc., as they will obviously need more administrators to administer the cuts (my apologies to Yes Minister).

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Anonymous Coward

Did you ...

read the article?

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So, this government might be doing the right thing after all

Instead of tiptoeing around these organisations, they're just shitcanning them, as they should be. Fantastic.

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Becta who?

As a school network admin I can't say I'll miss them - never really paid much attemntion to them to be honest.

Any idea what the government plans for the BSF programme? Would be nice to hear they've been told to piss off as well.

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Title Required

BSF is bound to be cut, sooner or later.

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Efficiency

Looking at how government departments spend I doubt that BECTA was actually saving money.

Example of government savings - spending £4.41 to £10.55 for a pack of 12 post-it notes. Price if bought by the man in the street from a normal stationers? £1.75

And as Squirrel says, £112m to basically write up contracts and negotiate "discounts". They haven't bought anything for the schools. If anything they lock the schools into contracts which are negotiated nationally and not for individual school's needs.

One example of many quangos where people will lose there job and where I will cheer as it means my taxes aren't paying their wages. Yes I will be paying their dole money, but they will be able to get a job in some private company soon enough - unless they were so crap at their job that they are effectively unemployable (most likely situation).

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Anonymous Coward

What cost...

...the risk assesment to cross the road to visit the man on the street?

My other half is a teacher, they have quite a lot of technology in the school and not a bloody clue how to use it.

The things a teacher could do with an interactive whiteboard to engage the children are limitless. 99% of them using it as nothing more than a traditional whiteboard. What's the point?

More money spent on training teachers to get jiggy with the kit please

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FAIL

Re: Teachers

"But that'd be unlikely for a profession that gets about a quarter of the year off work, only requires an absolute scrape through of a degree to qualify for the post and only works short days to start with whilst still whinging about being underpaid."

Yeah, because teachers are only working whilst the students are in school. Dumbass.

The average teacher's working week is about 60-70 hours. Maybe if you helpdesk slackers had a job that could be done outside of the office, you'd understand how much work other people put in. I'd also imagine that you get some kind of lunch break - there's no such thing for teachers.

The reason the school was empty by 4:30 was so that the teachers could avoid the rush hour and have time to do 2-3 hours of planning and marking in the evening.

The reason there was so much un-installed software is that most of it is unnecessary bollocks. Teachers teach, not software packages.

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Anonymous Coward

Not again...

Prat. Try being a teacher and finding out what it's really like. Or maybe at least work with a representative group.

"But no, again, that'd require teachers who aren't lazy, which is for sure contradition [sic] in terms at primary level"

My partner's one of those primary teachers who you seem to think do f* all. She - in common with most of her colleagues - is generally in school between 8 & 8:15, rarely gets a decent lunch break and frequently gets thrown out when the caretaker locks up at about 18:45. A good proportion of her evening is taken up with the extra planning and marking she's not been able to complete because of all the extra workload meeting government's spurious and frequently contradictory targets.

Since she believes that the kids she teaches deserve to enjoy their education, she'll also put in time at the weekends - incidentally, using remote desktop from home to access school servers, something which she's pursued the techs (that'd be you, then) to actually get working properly with debug reports, fail scenarios etc. - for all of the admin crap (box ticking, basically, in case of Ofsted). That leaves her time to teach and educate (different things) during 'normal' working hours.

"...a profession that gets about a quarter of the year off work,..."

Same old same old. Again, that's your perception. The kids may be at home, doesn't mean the school's closed. And there's still plenty to do to make sure they hit the ground running at the beginning of term. So there goes more of the 'spare' time. Oh, and by the way, who's gets the brunt of looking after our own kids? Yup, you guessed. And no, she's not some kind of exceptional superwoman (well, except in my eyes!).

It seems quite common for IT folks I meet to have partners who are teachers. Comparing notes, I reckon their experiences are very similar to mine. Every organisation has its slackers, I'm not claiming teaching is exempt from that. But I do get hacked off when poorly informed prejudice is trotted out in the guise of informed comment about an entire group of dedicated, intelligent people.

Humph. Better stop now...

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Wrong

"incidentally, using remote desktop from home to access school servers, something which she's pursued the techs (that'd be you, then) to actually get working "

It's not the techs fault that this doesn't work. It's the despotic local goverment who stop the system. The LEA where I work, separate the admin side from the curriculum side of the school and can't even let the head update/review the student's work from her admin system.

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Anonymous Coward

Educational affairs..

"My partner's one of those primary teachers who you seem to think do f* all. She - in common with most of her colleagues - is generally in school between 8 & 8:15, rarely gets a decent lunch break and frequently gets thrown out when the caretaker locks up at about 18:45."

Yeah right, she's shagging the caretaker you numpty.

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Excellent news

So many schools are using Microsoft Office, lets hope that we will see Open Office, Firefox, Linux, Thunderbird etc..

The schools should have a £Nil budget for Office software, Browsers, etc.. although I accept that a few devices should run on Windows, maybe not more than 25%.

NJSS

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Someone who doesn't understand the problems

Open Office - Don't like it myself but fair enough

Firefox - Not really a "mature" browser in terms of 'enterprise' manageability, patching, etc.

Linux - Has its place, like any other platform. We run a mix of that, Windows and Mac OSX depending on our needs for a particular job, and I have no plans to change that to meet the ideals of some open source zealots.

Thunderbird - See comments on Firefox.

The amount we pay for MS Office at my college is negligible in the great scheme of things - the cost of changing would more than offset the licence savings.

As for a "£nil budget for office software, browsers, etc", even if the list price of something is zero, you don't seriously thing it costs nothing to install and support it?

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Open Office?

To replace MS Office, the compatibility has to be virtually seamless. Have you actually tried to use OO in a fully inter-operative way with Microsoft Office? I have. I tried really hard. I wanted it to be good. It wasn't.

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Title Required

Never worked in a school have you?

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Numptie

You really don't have a clue do you

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Re: Open Office?

"To replace MS Office, the compatibility has to be virtually seamless. "

No it doesn't.

It's a school. Start the new first year kids on Open Office and by the time they leave school everyone will be using it.

Kids don't like using OO? Tough Faecal Matter. Kid's don't like homework or exams or learning in general. In fact, if there is any way to make OO harder to use for children then you can be damn sure I approve.

It's time to learn that every kid is not gifted and many of them aren't even moderately intelligent. These are people who need to be forced to use their brains more not less.

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What a numpty

With IE & Office, all patches can be managed centrally using WSUS (look it up). You then get reports on any users who aren't fully up to date. With firefox, you just don't get that manageability.

And, Yes, I am using Firefox, but wouldn't expect any of my corporate customers to do the same.

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It's a school?

They don't need anything even remotely compatible with microsoft office!

The first word proecessor i used at school was Folio, then some random office suite on an Acorn, something on Amiga, then Lotus Wordpro, then Microsoft Office. By that time I actually knew how to use a word processor, not just how to use Word.

Schoolchildren should be taught principles, not specific applications! That way they can adapt to any word processor, any spreadsheet etc. Even in my final year of school though, i was forced to do some standard IT course, despite being in the final year of Information Systems. It was very much load up Word, click this menu, click this button, etc. Great for producing armies of button clickers with no knowledge of what they are actually doing or why!

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Corporate customers?

Don't you know they don't upgrade IE - EVER!?!? They're the feckers who are still using IE6 and stunting the implementation of teh HTML5 standards

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Anonymous Coward

Office....

....costs about £4 per license for schools. More money is spent on post-it-notes

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FAIL

Ever heard of a single system image?

We don't need WSUS or anything like it on LInux. It can run from a single system image. Linux can run either as a disk-less workstation with the one system image on a server, or with a hard disk acting as a cache of the server's master.

Either way, update the master, and the workstations look after themselves.

You can't do this with MS Windoze, because every instance of Windoze insists of writing to itself and making itself different to any other instance. This makes it somewhat harder to make unauthorized copies: a benefit to Microsoft, a large dis-benefit to end-users.

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Anonymous Coward

@ AC 14:04

"Office ....costs about £4 per license for schools. More money is spent on post-it-notes"

So?

You public sector folks have a really strange way of dealing with money, i.e. it's okay to waste money as long as it's not your greatest expense.

Snake oil salesman: Would you like to buy my magic oil?

School: How much is it?

Snake oil salesman: Less than you spend on post-it notes mate

School: I'll take it!

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open source sounds great

but in practice open source software is a nightmare. I can happily use GPO's to lock down I.E., force proxies, bolt down what you can and cant do in office, change templates, globals and mailbox locations at a whim. I can also use outlook calendars, tasks, export from our MIS straight into peoples outlook.

I can do precisely none of this in open office, thunderbird, zimbra etc. so sure, I pay £27 per desktop to licence office, windows 7 (well it will be windows 7 this summer) and all the relevent CALs necessary. WSUS handles all of my updates, I click sync, assign updates to the groups and off they go.

Firefox would need a new package creating, ORCA the beast, roll it out and hope it works. IEAK for IE8 was a dream to work with. Office admin kit was fantastic at creating installation template.

The only open source I use is squid and dansguardian. The rest is good on paper but an admin nightmare. Obviously if you have more than 2 staff for 500 PCs then im sure you can work with doing things manually. I dont have that luxury.

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£4 per licence...

... to the quango, but they make damn sure the school pays more than that.

As referred to by a previous poster, the enforced purchase process and enforced suppliers (the company paying the biggest back-hander?) costs the schools thousands un-necessarily in hardware software and support costs. My daughter's school could employ a full time IT support person and give them a moderate budget for what they pay for the half-baked service they receive at present.

Use Linux/OO/Firefox? - Yes, I am one of those zealots, but still think that school students are better off learning about Windows and Mac environments too.

Just stop the rip-off. Good move ditching that bunch of wasters... Lets see more of this type of thing... CSA? Child Tax Credits anyone?...

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Anonymous Coward

Got any hens teeth with that?

"£4 per license" was in response to the argument for Open Office. I think £4 per license to expose the kids to the app they are most likely to face in the real world is money well spent.

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Correct

"Schoolchildren should be taught principles"

You are absolutely correct - however, the standard curriculum doesn't PERMIT skills based IT classes

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What?

Education is the one place where it would excel!

Children need to be taught what a computer is, how to choose the best software for the task at hand, the differences between Windows, Linux and OSX.You know, so they can make an informed choice later on!

As it is, most schools IT courses are a joke. Little more than how to use MSOffice. This is a terrible legacy to be leaving them. BECTA spoke out against the use of MS software in schools, and particularly against the fact the MS charges schools yearly! Little surprise that the Tories are scrapping them, they are traditionally in bed with big business and it doesn't get much bigger than MS.

This is a fail for our education system. Had Labour actually listened to BECTA we would be in a different place altogether and a far better one at that. The difference between Labour and Tory is that Labour pretended to listen and then did what they wanted, whereas the Tories don't even pretend to listen - either way - people without the necessary skills and knowledge are making decisions with long term effects.

So, we must cut the numbers of teachers and the numbers of school staff, but we can still shovel money hand over fist, straight out of the country to Microsoft - and the fuckers don't even pay a fair amount of tax on the money.

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WTF?

re: What a numpty

Of course you can update firefox across an enterprise remotely.

Easiest on *nix (ie RHEL), but still workable on *doze.

Jeez dude, upgrade your m4d sk1lls or something. :(

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Rob
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About bloody time too...

... I've had the misfortune to work with Becta before and yes they are a complete waste of space, when I was working in FE you get used to the slackers that freeload their way to a paycheck with minimal effort but Becta seemed like a whole organisation built to do just that.

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I actually stood up and did a little dance ...

Bloody marvellous! The stories I heard from my (then) missus who worked relatively high up at Becta of abuse of public funds - 1st class travel everywhere, getting into bed with MS regularly, etc, made me *spit*.

Good riddance to the lot of them.

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FAIL

A Load of Tripe!

The Article I mean, not just Becta

1. This is last weeks news and appeared again on Saturday morning BBC radio.

2. Becta's role was always advisory. Schools and local authorities have always been at liberty to ignore Becta guidance and Becta frameworks and by god they do, daily.

3. Nulabour did not create Becta in 1998 it merely re-badged NCET which was the direct descendant of MESU. I'll sell you a history lesson if you like.

It is not the demise of Becta which is going to hit schools. It is the end of the £ 200 million per annum Harnessing Technology grant worth something of the order of £ 10 k per school per annum, which is not a lot of money, but it is a very sizeable chunk of what schools have left when they have paid the rent and the pfi profits guarantee and put a few warm bodies in front of classes.

Watch out for schools that stop paying their maintenance and support contracts, for kit and IWBs that the schools cannot afford to replace and repair. Watch the return of blackboard and chalk.

Watch out also for those smart-arsed local authorities which have ignored the Becta advice and diverted the Harnessing Technology funds to low-cost copper connections with high revenue costs rather than investing in fibre which historically had high set up costs but is subsequently cheap to run. Their schools could find themselves paying more for less without the specific grant to do it.

Capita share are down 2% on the Chancellor's speech. Short RM.

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@Blackboard & Chalk...

>Watch out for schools that stop paying their maintenance and support contracts, for kit and IWBs that the schools cannot afford to replace and repair. Watch the return of blackboard and chalk.

I pay good money to send my kids to a school that does just that. Available kit, technology and infrastructure is absolutely irrelevant to education. I'd rather have competant teachers with a knowledge and love of their subject using blackboards than any amount of kit delivering a fast-food curriculum.

If you can point me at studies which show IWB impact positively on learning, real control studies not half-arsed 'action research' please do - but I'll take my chances with small classes using face-to-face delivery by teachers who understand and write their own syllabi - and the complete absence of 'out of the box' teaching materials and LPs. I see that working every day.

I appreciate the problem you're highlighting though - I wonder how many teachers could actually deliver their subject well using chalk and talk these days.

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Durr thick move!

I know you lot who commented so far are hard of learning, but cum'on even you must be able to see this is one of many new epic fails that this crazy alliance is about to plonk on us tax payers.

Whilst you can just nip up to PCWorld and buy a computer for a little less than this outfit could advise, what you hard of learning lot are missing is the future support fit for purpose work they did and all those things you lot dont seem to understand as you clearly have never worked in an organisation that gives'a.

Now we will have the chaos again that once rushed through our schools in some of the early days of computing with schools. We also now have School IT staff doing MORE paper work and research into computers, best prices and so on. Add to this the risks increase of a school getting scammed by some 'retailer' who takes the money and never delivers due to being on the beach in Bali drinking the ill gotten gains.

This is one of the many EPIC fails we are about to see in the coming year (before they bitch and fight and we have a new election).

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Anonymous Coward

wow, arrogant much?

"We also now have School IT staff doing MORE paper work and research into computers, best prices and so on"

What else are they supposed to be doing?

Do you mean IT teachers? If they don't know enough to specify the equipment they need and lack the savvy to negotiate a deal with suppliers then I'd say they are in the wrong job.

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WTF?

hmmm

"We also now have School IT staff doing MORE paper work and research into computers, best prices and so on."

Or as we like to call it, "Doing our job".

" Add to this the risks increase of a school getting scammed by some 'retailer' who takes the money and never delivers due to being on the beach in Bali drinking the ill gotten gains."

I think the chances of my employer getting scammed like this are about on a par with your chances of posting a useful contribution to this thread.

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You don't sound very clever

I mean, 'Durr, thick move'. Are you getting your insults from 4 year olds?

My wife is the ICT coordinator at her school, and is very glad to see the back of BECTA. The 'advice' they give, the nonsense ICT Mark they encourage you to spend money to get, and the non-existent discounts they allege to have achieved are worthless.

The PCs they recommend are just no good for the type of multimedia work (primary) schools do. A basic 'office' PC will not suffice. So, my wife has a schedule for machine replacement that she can budget against. Three types of PC: computer lap, classroom and staff laptops. Each PC within a type is of a standard build. They're a bargain from whichever reseller is cheapest. As for support -- with the money saved from BECTA's recommendations, she can buy 2-3 extra PCs to use as swap in replacements. More complex stuff (and any tricky server admin) is done by a small local support firm. Which benefits everyone in the community, not Dell or similar.

Yes there's a bit of extra paperwork; but with proper planning it's only every 2-3 years (the PC 3 types are on a different replacement cycle). She isn't scammed because she knows what she's doing, and the support is from a local supplier (and her school isn't in Bali) who are unlikely to scam her because it'll hurt them in the longer term. They give a shit about her business. Would Dell/HP/whomever?

As for open source, well they use OO on Windows. Linux (for now) is a step too far.

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scissors 'n stones

I'm clearly hard of learning but by using a few well chosen resellers that are happy to bend over backwards to ensure they continue getting a decent chunk of my budget I regularly buy kit well below retail and I have a contact list full of account managers who are keen to do all the legwork in checking out specs 'n prices to offer me the best deals. There are a couple of resellers in particular I tend to go to for large/important orders as I know their after sales service is also excellent.

Of course, I'm sure it would be better to leave the hard of learning camp to join the hard of thinking brigade and just buy whatever becta tell me to.

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Re: Durr thick move!

"Whilst you can just nip up to PCWorld and buy a computer for a little less than this outfit could advise, what you hard of learning lot are missing is the future support fit for purpose work they did and all those things you lot dont seem to understand as you clearly have never worked in an organisation that gives'a."

What 'future support'? The HE students I work with don't get any support from BECTA. They just get given a laptop that costs about £200 or so more than the same laptop from PC World.

That money comes out of the same Disabled Student Allowance pool that is supposed to pay for tuition and support. The more the hardware costs, the less there is to pay for useful things.

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NEXT

NHS supplies. All PCT's are legally required to stuff from them. They are rip off merchants of the highest degree.

A £200PC at PC world - costs £561 via NHS supplies.

A £75 HP printer at Pc world, costs £300 at NHS supplies.

Hopefully someone from Govt or a journalist can do something to stop that massive black hole of NHS funding. Allow us to buy what we want from where we want.

Anon because you know where I work.

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Headmaster

Never let facts get in the way of a good rant

Do you mean NHS Supplychain? If you do you are talking out of your arse because PCTs are NOT "legally required to stuff from them" (I assume you mean buy stuff from them). It's a choice; Supplychain has to persuade PCTs that it's worth while to link up.

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And how do they "persuade"?

***"Supplychain has to persuade PCTs that it's worth while to link up."***

And I can imagine the sort of "persuading" that is required to convince a PCT's chief exec to spend twice what the kit he's buying is actually worth.

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Grenade

Yep it's called arthmetic

Do you really think that a Chief exec goes through the prices of every item in the catalogue? The deal is done or not done on overall annual savings, which are tracked, reported on and analysed to a tedious degree. You shouldn't assume that the way you do business is the way everybody else does.

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