Dudley does a deal

RM has been chosen as the "preferred bidder" for a Pounds 43 million project to supply Dudley schools with information and communications technology over the next 10 years. It is believed to be the first big "managed services" deal for a local authority and is being funded under the Public Finance Initiative (PFI).

The Department for Education and Employment is keen to develop the concept of managed services, whereby a company or consortium looks after schools' information technology needs. The intention is to lift the responsibility for managing technology from schools. Dudley's 105 schools will be connected to an authority-wide network supplied by BT. RM will supply the hardware, educational software and Internet access, an intranet, teacher training on ICT and laptop computers for teachers.

Richard Girling, chief executive of RM, said: "The scale of the Dudley project represents a real change in how IT is managed and provided for by LEAs. We expect government, LEAs and influencers in education to watch this initiative with interest." The Dudley project starts in January.

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