Tablet procurement should not be written in stone

28th February 2014 at 00:00

As the first year of the national schools tablet procurement framework draws to a close, it is worth thinking about what has been achieved and what there is still to do.

Although the framework has been a central plank of the government's ICT in education strategy, there have been many developments in technology over the course of the year, particularly as Android and Windows 8 tablets have improved. iPads are now perhaps not the default option any more and the opportunities built into the current agreement for updating the range of devices have, in my view, not been realised. This has also been the case for other such frameworks, which have generally reduced choice and in some cases increased costs to schools.

If we are to have such a framework, then it must be flexible and adaptable, and the contract holder must recognise this and act when new devices become available. But the framework is not the only way to purchase devices and schools might benefit from better deals by talking directly to manufacturers or other resellers.

What is more important, however, is that they think very carefully before making decisions, taking advice from those in their networks with experience of using tablets, particularly in Scottish schools, and choosing the right device or mix of devices before committing large sums of money.

I hope that rather than simply extending the current contract, the government pauses for some careful reflection and looks again at all the available options, which are very different from those that presented themselves 18 months ago. These decisions are too important just to nod through without it.

Jaye Richards-Hill, Ex-principal teacher, writer and education consultant.

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