Education ICT budget to hit £2.9 billion in three years

The annual ICT expenditure of UK schools will grow to £2.9 billion by 2011, according to a report.


The annual ICT expenditure of UK schools will grow to £2.9 billion by 2011, according to a report.

Educational ICT spending will grow at 4 percent from the current £2.5 billion, boosted by ICT programmes such as Building Schools for the Future and the Primary Capital Programme, as well as investment in city academies, according to the report for which 170 school IT managers were interviewed.

The ‘Education ICT in the UK public sector to 2012’ report by Kable, a market research firm on public sector ICT, states that ICT is a major part of the government’s plans for schools, including providing better resources for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, increasing the participation of parents through online channels, and improving the administration of education.

Schools will be the main spenders in the entire education sector, with expenditure growing by 5.3 percent to £1.3 billion in 2011. Universities will increase their spending by 3.1 percent to £463 million.

Local authorities will be heavily involved in local school partnerships that invest in technology, and from 2010 they will also be responsible for the funding of colleges.

Technology will be central to training and support for staff, the report said. Off the shelf software will be used to meet curriculum requirements, and secure networks will be needed for learners, staff and parents.

There will be a need for more advanced IT support services, and back office applications and storage to support pupil data and online reports, it said. The green agenda means energy efficiency will be a high priority.

But there will also be staff challenges, the report said. Schools will need to train staff to keep abreast of software upgrades and technology advances, and they will need to implement infrastructure upgrades to match increases in the volume of content and number of users. In addition, there will be an increased use of portable devices, according to the report.

Microsoft and open source firms have been vying for a slice of the spending, competing to become the preferred supplier for a government IT framework called Becta. In a first for open source firms, Sirius Corporation was recently chosen to become an accredited IT services supplier for Becta's “Software for Educational Institutions Framework” agreement, which could see the software used across universities and schools throughout the UK.

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