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Technology firms may cash in on the flu

Private firms are lining up to take full advantage of any school closures in September due to swine flu.

Companies that offer learning platforms or social networking sites claim they are perfectly placed to help educate pupils at home - something schools must plan for under the government's flu guidance.

Private companies that are marketing their services include Imjack, Accipio and Hidden Ideas.

Niel McLean, executive director at Becta, the government's education technology agency, said: "Although there is bound to be a certain amount of disruption for schools while swine flu remains prevalent, it also provides an opportunity to put technology to good use and reap the benefits of their investment by making sure that no one needs to miss out - even if schools are closed.

"Becta is working to gather evidence of effective practice from leading schools so more schools are able to use technology to support learning anywhere and any time."

Richard Addis, director of content for Imjack, a secure social networking site for schools, said the platform would be offered to anyone who wants it this autumn at no cost. The site makes money from sponsorship not charging schools.

Similarly Accipio, which has 1,500 pre-recorded GCSE lessons, said that if schools purchase a library licence, it will extend access to meet the requirements of each individual school for the duration of the disruption.

Hidden Ideas, which provides live online support, is also lobbying decision-makers to adopt its systems.

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