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Open source firm chosen for schools IT framework deal

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| Twelve companies, including Sirius Corporation have been chosen for
| Becta 's “Software for Educational Institutions Framework” agreement.
| John Spencer, Head of Education at Sirius said: “We are pleased to have shown
| that open source software is ready for educational institutions and that
| Sirius has the resources to support its increasing use.
| “Students, schools and the taxpayer can now use open source software with the
| assurance of an EU-backed scheme."
| The framework agreement was let by the Office of Government Commerce’s
| OGCbuying.solutions.



Microsoft's interoperability dodge in UK schools

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| discounts only make it cheaper to fall into lock-in. The Open Source
| Consortium's president Mark Taylor says it well: "Schools can now choose
| between long-term software freedom or a short-term discount on the next
| lock-in play."
| Fortunately, groups like Becta, which brought the original complaint against
| Microsoft to the European Commission, are unlikely to fall asleep at the
| wheel.
| Microsoft will no doubt eventually be forced into offering interoperability
| alongside its discounts.


BECTA Back in Play

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| Just in case you thought things were getting a little dull in the world of UK
| computing compared to, say, UK finance, here comes the BECTA roller-coaster
| again:
| "Becta has been working closely with Microsoft to understand how the various
| issues identified in relation to interoperability in its Office 2007 product
| will be addressed. Becta takes the view that effective interoperability is an
| important component of the technology infrastructure needed to improve
| educational outcomes, facilitate home school links and address the digital
| divide."
| Ah, yes, interoperability: Microsoft's favourite word of the moment.


Open source has yet to learn it pays to advertise

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| Why is it that all these open source news sites, blog sites, and resource
| sites are still being sponsored by Microsoft?


Ian Lynch's take on the BECTA fiasco

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| Fundamentally, I’m not complaining that we were not successful in the
| tender - I have no idea how strong the winning bid was. I’m complaining that
| the tender process adopted was broken. This is despite the fact that 130 MPs
| signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament last year censuring BECTA for
| procurement frameworks that block out Open Source.


Becta's Open Source Contract To Alpha Plus Outrages Other Bidders

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| Mark Tylor, the Chief Executive of Sirius, an enterprise support company, has
| written an open letter on the name of Becta, charging it of “cronyism”
| and “political sleaze”.
| Mark Tylor claims that the project cannot work out properly, as the
| consultancy that has been awarded with the contract is incapable of handling
| open source project.


Open Source UK attacks schools quango

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| The Schools Open Source Project had been intended to encourage the use of
| Open Source software in schools, for education and infrastructure, and it so
| far seems to have achieved the feat of uniting the Open Source community, but
| against it.
| Ross Gardler, who bid as part of the not-for-profit OSS-Watch, also raised
| questions about Becta's evaluation process: "Some of the marks on our
| [evaluation] sheet were indicated as having been modified during the
| moderation phase," he said.


Row erupts over schools open-source project

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| Taylor went on to urge schools to ignore Becta and the project, adding: "Any
| of the organisations Becta rejected will be your best choice". It also called
| for an open source industry boycott of the project, claiming the project
| was "about jobs for the boys, spin, and discrediting non-proprietary
| software".


The Groklaw effect hits Becta. And yes, I am coining a new term

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| Right now Becta ( [the UK agency that snubbed the free software
| community]http://www.freesoftwaremagazin[...]) ) is in the process of being
| Groklawed by the free software community. A source close to the events right
| now told me quite clearly that Freedom Of Information Act requests are
| hitting Becta in flurries. In this case, it wasn’t Groklaw that Groklawed
| Becta. Instead, it was The Register with their article on Becta.
| [...]
| Unlike the Slashdot effect, the Groklaw effect is much more dooming for the
| company receiving it. While the Slashdot effect eventually lessens, and your
| servers can finally stop working overtime, the Groklaw effect are
| longer-lasting, and in order to get it to stop you can either straightened
| your actions, or pay the dearest price for any illegal or unethical action
| you carried out.
| If you’re a blogger, I invite you to use this new term. SCO’s being
| Groklawed, OOXML’s been Groklawed, and so is Becta.


The OSC's open letter to Becta

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| If you are a school, ignore Becta's project, ignore Becta, and seek advice
| from the people who are able to give it. Any of the organisations Becta
| rejected will be your best choice.
| If you are a member of the Open Source community or industry not yet touched
| by this scandal, boycott the project and refuse to have anything to do with
| it. It's not about 'Open Source', it's about jobs for the boys, spin, and
| discrediting non-proprietary software.
| If you are anyone else, throw your hands up in despair at yet more political
| sleaze, cronyism and incompetence, and vote for someone other than the
| current government at the next election, preferably someone with policies on
| Open Source and Open Government.


The Case for Linux in the Classroom

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| Linux is the only OS designed and equipped with Education in mind. Edubuntu,
| a flavor of Linux, is designed with the classroom in mind. It comes
| preinstalled with education software and applications that suit students of
| all grade levels, and even has some handy applications for the teacher too.


BECTA Rubbishes Almost the Entire UK Open Source Industry

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| I've written a number of times about BECTA, charting its constant flip-flops
| on open source in schools – sometimes damning it, sometimes driving it. Like
| me, you've probably been increasingly confused about BECTA's real attitude to
| free software. Well, I think we know now, following the snubbing of all the
| most experienced UK open source players in the awarding of a major contract
| to promote open source in schools. * *


A learning experience

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| The situation looked to have improved in early May when it was revealed that
| Becta had issued an invitation to tender for a project to set up and run an
| open source schools project. *
| As Glyn Moody reports, however, despite bids from the great and the good of
| open source in the UK (supported by the likes of Red Hat and Canonical) the
| contract was awarded to The AlphaPlus Consultancy, a company described as
| having “no known experience or track record in FOSS”. *


Becta schools deal stuns British open-istas

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| He claimed that the decision to snub bidders that included Red Hat-backed
| Sirius and Canonical-backed The Learning Machine exposed Becta’s open
| source “posturings” as a “sham”. *
| Becta, which in recent months has been a vocal critic of Microsoft’s
| monopolistic stranglehold on software, invited bidders to tender for
| its “Open Source Schools” project in May. *
| At the time it said: “Becta wishes to ensure that schools are aware of and
| can access the wide variety of open source software in the marketplace. To
| achieve this it recognises that they must be supported in its awareness,
| adoption, deployment, use and ongoing development.” *


Becta, open source and education: Too little, too late?

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| Slow adoption of open source and free software in UK schools can be
| attributed to the same kind of inertia that afflicts SMEs in the UK. It
| arises from a fear of the unknown, misapprehensions of the capabilities of
| the software, over-reliance on trusted suppliers, and general lack of
| awareness of the alternatives - but the major obstacle has been a lack of
| coordination, direction or understanding from the relevant authorities,
| exacerbated by a series of agreements with Microsoft at government level that
| have effectively tied the education system into Microsoft-only solutions.



Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

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| "A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging
| attack on the U.K. government's IT strategy, saying that it has given
| Microsoft too much control.
| John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a
| member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an
| adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the
| debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft
| software, including open source."
| [...]


Becta's schools software scheme reported to EC

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| An advisor to Becta, the education technology quango, has complained
| to the European Commission about its procurement process for firms
| to provide online learning platforms and content to British schools.


Becta under fire for procurement framework

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| Nineteen MPs have accused a government agency of restricting the
| procurement of software in schools.

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