IT procurement for schools is 'unstructured'

Education IT spending worth 15 billion as part of the government's schools improvement programme needs to be re-assessed, MPs have said.

The current procurement method is inefficient, stated a House of Commons education committee report on the matter. The report also states that technology needs to be viewed as the 'fourth utility' by staff and pupils.

The way schools buy IT is not structured to take advantage of technological development, Nick Kalisperas, director of IT lobby group, Intellect, told the committee.

"We want to see the IT in this programme being used to effect real change, and that currently is not being reflected in the way procurements are being taken forward. We are looking at developing a programme for schools for the future; therefore the procurement has to be structured in such a way to take advantage of technological development. That is not how that procurement is currently structured at the moment" he said.

The government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme, which includes IT investment, will put 45 billion into rebuilding and refurbishing all secondary schools in England over 15 years.

An increased and more sophisticated use of ICT is another of the main aims of the BSF project.

The Department for Education and Skills stated that the BSF approach to ICT is founded on the fact that technology should be simple to use, and integral to the school environment.

Mike Blackburn of BT Education and Local Government told the committee: "You have to be able to support innovation and let use in the classroom be taken forward by the teacher and the pupil".

An argument which BT made against the government's approach to IT is that, while it is central to the BSF programme, its use is not radical enough. It argued that the role of ICT in BSF is being seen as that of a supplementary teaching and learning facility rather than a transformational tool.