Glow developments are delayed by government

25th May 2012 at 01:00
Unexpected decision comes after Google decides not to tender for the contract

The government has been forced to delay its plans for developing the national schools intranet, Glow.

RM Education's contract to run the platform has now been extended at a cost of pound;5.5 million. The contract had been due to end in September but will now run for a further 15 months.

The decision was taken to "facilitate the transition to the successor to Glow", according to a notice published on Monday on the government's public contracts website.

The move this week comes hard on the heels of Google's decision to pull out of tendering for the contract.

Last September, education secretary Michael Russell announced that he was pulling the plug on Glow Futures, the next stage for which companies had been invited to tender. A tender process is still ongoing to find a provider to offer a variety of free tools and open-source services by September.

IT experts had expressed fears that this left insufficient time for the transition and migration of thousands of pieces of data to a new system.

Google's decision earlier this month to pull out prompted concerns that Microsoft could be left as the sole applicant in the process. A decision on the allocation of that contract is understood to be due next week.

Neil Findlay, Labour MSP and deputy convener of the education committee, told TESS: "The dogs in the street knew there was not a chance that the new system would be up and running by September and yet the Scottish government sought to portray the project as on schedule."

He added: "We now know the reality - they have tried to sneak out the extension of this contract in the most cowardly manner. Scottish government ministers need to be held to account for their mishandling of this project."

A government spokesman said: "The Scottish government is in the process of agreeing to extend the existing contract with RM Education plc for a period of 15 months, which will ensure secure continuity of service. There will be no break in the operation of Glow in September and there will be no disruption to pupils and teachers who use Glow."

He said the government was working with potential partners "in the enhancement of IT in education", and to ensure "Glow develops to better support teachers and pupils in the classroom and share good practice in the use of technology to enhance learning and teaching".

julia.belgutay@tess.co.uk

Chatroom, page 55.

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