IT spending in schools is forecast to hit 1.05bn in 2009 as the governments 45bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program rolls out. But says technology services provider, Probrand, with more efficient IT buying methods schools and local authorities can stretch the reach of their IT budgets by at least 15% to get more ICT for the same money.
A move that is seeing existing schools compete on a level playing field with new or remodelled schools of the future in terms of technology in the classroom.
Innovative IT has been acknowledged by Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the body responsible for BSF, as playing a key role in transforming schools and this is prompting the broader education sector to spend more on IT.
Probrand is seeing the response from this proactive sector, says Sales Manager, Richard Hunter-Rice: In the last six months we have seen over 3,000 schools using our online IT procurement portal www.theITindex.co.uk/gov to buy better IT cheaper and faster.
These schools have also increased the amount of purchases they have been processing. On average schools are saving 15% of their IT budgets and a working week in time every month usually spent calling suppliers to barter on price.
Government approved, www.theITindex.co.uk/gov daily updates over 125,000 products by best price and availability from over 1200 suppliers and offers SIMS integration capability specifically developed for education back office environments. It instantly provides three quotes per product which means theres no need to tender.
Price and availability comparisons are fully automated, so that buyers simply search for the product they want to buy before purchasing direct through the website. Unlike consumer comparison sites, buyers are not bounced out to individual suppliers at point of purchase. And as Europes largest and most efficient IT marketplace the Institute of Chartered Accountants has accredited it as offering Best Practice, Best Value piece of mind.
Probrand believes that public sector efficiency pressures and the BSFs drive to put IT top of the agenda once again have prompted bursars to look for more efficient ways of getting the very best IT into the classroom.
Hunter-Rice continues: Budgets are finite and schools are agile entities that are responding quickly to the demands placed upon them. Stretching budgets with best practice approaches to buying best value IT is undoubtedly helping schools buy adaptive and enabling technologies that can support all learners, teachers and their shared learning platforms alike.
Local Authorities have quite unique and distinct requirements when it comes to ICT in the classroom but there is one common influencer across all and that is a demand for best price and instant availability. We are proving this need can be met.
Schools currently signed up to www.theITindex.co.uk/gov include Wycombe Abbey girls school, Bolton Council schools, Northampton School for Girls, Bradford Grammar school and Knowsley Community College, amongst others. Spends for each establishment vary between 2,000 to 250,000 depending on current state of the IT infrastructure at each location.