ICT in schools after the election: A lightning tour of the manifestos


I know you have all read them from cover to cover but just in case there are one or two of you out there who have not, below is a precis of what the major parties say about ICT in general and ICT in education in particular.

All of their manifestos are available for download in pdf format naturally, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have that gorgeous 'turn the page like a book' pdf served up by an .aspx site.

The Labour party only has the regular pdf and oddly it uses a nasty serif font absent from their JavaScript web site. On the plus side their manifesto is also available in mp3, Braille and a Mencap version for those with learning difficulty.

So, already a tantalising start: the two parties that talk the most about ICT even to the extent of mentioning Open Source software are clearly big fans of fancy proprietary software effects.

Nothing new there then.

However, distilling what they say about ICT and ICT in Education in particular I have the following summary.


1) No party is talking about ICT in schools any more. The nearest we get is Lab mentioning student access to ICT facilities. The others don't mention ICT in schools in any specific way.

2) They all love the fast broadband project.

3) No one is abolishing Quangos (no, not even Becta). The buzzwords are transparency, accountability, numbers, salary control etc etc

4) Libs and Cons favour a freedom-leaning 'open-data' culture where the surveillance stuff they gather on us can be accessed by us. Lab quite like it as it is. Significantly no-one seems keen to stop collecting data. ...I couldn't find the promise by Lib Dems to remove innocent people from the DNA data base..did I miss it?

5) Lib and Cons want to reform ICT procurement. The thrust of which is 'no more mega projects please' and to this end we have promises to encourage SMEs to tender for projects which will be subsets of bigger projects. A sort of Airbus construction model where each country makes a bit of it. By small I think they mean <£100 million !!! UK Open Source SME's would be allowed to tender too. From my recent experience in that sector we could build the windscreen wipers, at a push.

Bizarrely the Cons are into 'Skunkworks' which I had to look up and is, I quote from Wikipedia: A skunkworks project often operates with a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects. These projects are often undertaken in secret with the understanding that if the development is successful then the product will be designed later according to the usual process.

...gasp, what are they up to? Can I play? The Lab party however seems content with status quo...no surprise there then.

6) Odds and Sods. The Libs have discovered The Cloud and will investigate its potential. All three parties are going to review the schools curriculum. No mention of ICT and energy consumption.

So what do we make of this then?

Libconlab party: summary in a sentence:

The love affair with ICT in schools is over, Becta isn't; big IT projects suck; broadband is as necessary as bread to survive and the surveillance society will just get bigger...

....whoever is elected and however well-hung is the parliament the above is what we can reasonably expect in the years to come.

What does it all mean for us in education and ICT? It means in the broadest terms more web facing ICT in schools ( fast broadband/Clouds ) a change in the ICT curriculum (no more MS Office based GCSEs), more CEOPS'esque (Child Exploitation and Online protection Centre) surveillance.

I have ideas about the way in which ICT specifically will develop in the above context but it's too late in the article to start again. I'll leave off here and come back to it in next post.

What has stunned me though with a little bit of effort, deconstruction reveals essentially a consensus amongst the major parties how depressing..

..now on the other hand, if you read Plaid Cymru, there's radical for you

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