Open source group slams education body Becta

The Open Source Consortium has accused the government's education IT agency of posturing when it comes to A looking at open source in schools.

Becta previously announced the creation of an Open Source Schools' project, which aimed to create an open source community in UK schools by running workshops and creating online discussions on the topic, as well as setting out a road map for using such tech in schools.

To bring this about, Becta has given a 270,000 million contract to AlphaPlus Consultancy. In an open letter, OSC president Mark Taylor said that firm had no track record in open source and gave it no mention on their website and were a relative unknown in the community.

Taylor said Becta had awarded the contract "to establishment insiders and cronies, with no Open Source credentials or capabilities, rather than organisations who could and would make the project work." According to Taylor's letter, the top UK open source groups pitched for the project, including Canonical, Schoolforge UK and Sirius, of which he is chief executive.

He added: "Just handed a quarter of a million pounds, Becta's friends are now responsible for the direction Open Source takes in British Schools, entirely removed from the UK Open Source community and industry."

He added: "Funny how the UK Public Sector is the only one in the world who consistently 'trial' Open Source by giving projects to those least capable of delivering them."

He ended by calling on schools to ignore Becta's advice on open source, and seek out organisations which truly know the subject. He also called on members of the open source community to boycott the project.

In a statement, Becta said it evaluated multiple vendors, looking at capability and experience, quality of the offer, price and ability to meet timescales. "We had a strong set of responses from excellent organizations all of whom scored well in different areas. Alphaplus came out on top overall but as stated earlier, we anticipate that the nature of the work will mean that many parties in the education and Open Source community will be involved in elements of the project delivery."

AlphaPlus Consultancy could be reached for comment at the time of publication, but the Manchester-based consultancy reportedly said: "We will work hard to see what the open source community wants from the project."

For more detail on Becta's look at open source, click here.