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ICT - Keeping up with the Joneses

Schools are being persuaded to buy thousands of pounds of ICT equipment they do not need, according to computing industry experts.

There is a culture in UK schools of "keeping up with the Joneses" around ICT purchasing, even in a climate of cuts, according to a specially- convened panel of industry figures.

The panel, assembled by Californian computing company Netgear, criticised companies which trumped up unnecessary equipment, and warned that the latest "bells and whistles" could hamper schools in the long run.

Education consultant and former Westminster Government adviser Margaret Coleman said: "There certainly exists a trend of `keeping up with the Joneses', as schools strive to keep up with the IT offerings of their local rivals as opposed to thinking about what will most accurately meet their individual requirements.

"What is most frequently absent is a bespoke strategy: schools need an advisory partner, not just a smart sales presentation."

Independent IT expert Jon Collins underlined that schools should not overlook existing systems: "More often than not, schools will find that by making a wise investment of, say, 20 per cent of a new system, they'll find they make the most of the 80 per cent of legacy equipment they have already spent their money on."

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