The schools technology quango Becta is set to be abolished as part of the Chancellor's £6.5 billion spending cuts.
The British Education Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) was charged with promoting the use of technology within education, but as part of a spending cut by Chancellor George Osborne is set to be abolished. According to various sources, the cut will see savings of between £65-80 million.
Becta chairman Graham Badman and chief executive Stephen Crowne commented on the decision, claiming that they were very disappointed at the Government's decision.
The statement said: “Becta is a very effective organisation with an international reputation, delivering valuable services to schools, colleges and children. Our procurement arrangements save the schools and colleges many times more than Becta costs to run.
“Our top priorities now are to make sure we have an orderly and fair process for staff, and that as far as possible schools, colleges and children continue to benefit from the savings and support that Becta has provided. We will be talking to Government departments and our other stakeholders including the industry about this.”
Among the plans in the balance are Gordon Brown's announcement from the start of this year to supply free laptops and broadband access for 270,000 low-income families in order that they could better follow their children's progress at school and access progress reports on attainment, behaviour and other needs.
Mark Dale, director of public sector technology, transport and logistics sales UK and Ireland at MphasiS, said: “Headline figures, such as the £65 million in saving expected from scrapping Becta, could easily be matched if IT provision to the public sector was at maximum efficiency – something only possible if outsourcing is embraced.
“Scrapping Becta, will undoubtedly help to cut costs significantly, but rather than slashing the budget in the education sector, Osborne first needs to address the high-level of inefficiency in Government back-office functions.”
Dave Baldwin, managing director of Getronics UK, said: “With the education sector facing huge cuts, isn't it time department heads looked to the cloud to help reduce operational overheads? With onsite IT costing departments time and money, schools and universities can secure huge savings through hosted desktop environments, whilst providing a more flexible approach to education.”