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School IT quango Becta closed to save £80m

Rebecca Thomson

School technology quango Becta says it is "very disappointed" at the government's decision to close the organisation.

The announcement was part of the government's plans to save £6bn across the public sector, with chancellor George Osborne expecting to save £80m by closing Becta.

Becta aimed to provide cheap technology packages for schools by entering into deals with vendors. Schools were then required to use those suppliers.

Becta's chief executive Stephen Crowne and chairman Graham Badman said, "Naturally we are very disappointed at the government's decision. 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 Home Access programme will give laptops and broadband to over 200,000 of the poorest children."

The organisation is in the middle of its Fit for the Future programme, with the tender process for technology partners being accelerated earlier this year.

It would have seen the agency work with the technology industry to identify the main IT-related challenges the education sector will face over the coming years, such as making use of data and the technology skills of teachers. The contract award notice was due to be issued in May or June.

Crowne and Badman said, "The main priority now is 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."


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