Becta head defends Government's 'wasted' investment in technology

15th January 2010 at 00:00
Chief executive of educational IT agency disputes Tories' attack on funding and calls for focus on future

The head of the Government's education technology agency, Becta, said this week that any future administration should be "unable to ignore" the importance of technology in schools in a clear riposte to Tory attacks on the money "wasted" in his organisation.

Speaking at the launch of the Learning and Technology World Forum in London this week, Stephen Crowne, chief executive of Becta, added that he was "confident" a future government will be "committed to the technology agenda".

Mr Crowne's comments come after the Conservative leader David Cameron told delegates at the Tory party conference in Manchester last year that Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, was "blowing hundreds of millions on quangos like the QCDA and Becta".

He added that parents wanted to see such money being handed straight to headteachers rather than being "wasted in Whitehall".

But speaking to The TES, Mr Crowne gave a staunch defence of his agency's recent performance, adding that continued investment in Becta would not be a waste of taxpayers' money.

"We exist as an agency, an agency of the government of the day, to demonstrate how you can make a difference with technology and the benefits you can get," he said.

"I'm confident the case is increasingly convincing that the right kind of investment in technology - and it has to be the right kind - will be a real benefit.

"It won't just happen by itself - it does require leadership that Becta gives, and it does require building the right kind of infrastructure and equipping schools and colleges with the knowledge and understanding they need to make the most of the potential that's there."

SCHEME HELPS LOW-INCOME FAMILIES LOG ON

The Government has pledged to invest #163;300 million into Becta's Home Access programme, which will provide laptops to 270,000 low-income families.

The programme follows a successful pilot carried out in Oldham and Suffolk last year, the results of which were described by the Prime Minister as "inspiring" in his speech announcing the funding.

Mr Brown said: "A key feature of the pilot has been the way that many parents used their home access to engage with their child's school. And many more schools now report that more parents use the school's learning platform to access pupil information.

"(Home Access) will mean all families can come together, learn together and reap the rewards together."

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