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Open source makes school appointment

Report to pave way for greater OSS use in UK schools

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Becta, the Government's lead agency for ICT in education, is set to release a new report which will say that schools could save significant sums by switching to open source software, eGov monitor can report.

The landmark report will show that OSS can be implemented successfully in schools and present documented examples of cost savings from its use.

Becta's report, based on a study of 15 schools, will state that open source office products have been demonstrated to offer schools a cost-effective alternative to proprietary software.

Among the key findings will be that primary and secondary schools using OSS substantially reduced the total cost of ownership per PC. Support costs - typically accounting for more than half a PC's total cost - showed the biggest reduction.

Furthermore, case studies showed that the cost advantages of OSS were often used to increase provision, rather than reduce overall budgets in schools.

It will also highlight that OSS can provide an appropriate infrastructure for schools and is well supported, with good reliability and performance.

However it will note wider OSS deployments in schools are still limited by a lack of content-specific applications.

The report is being held back until after 5 May due to the restrictions on government announcements during the general election.

Richard Rothwell, Chair of Schoolforge UK, a body promoting open source software use in schools, welcomed Becta's interest. He said: "We trust that Becta will build on this positive start and work with the Free, Libre and Open Source Software community to encourage more schools and organisations to deploy FLOSS."

Copyright © 2005, eGov monitor

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