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BECTA snuffs National Grid for Learning

This town's not big enough for the both of them

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Education technology quango* Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) has eliminated the prime minister's prized National Grid for Learning (NGfL).

NGfL was launched by Tony Blair in 1998 with a vision of getting all schools connected to the internet. The NGfL also provided educational resources for teachers and school children on a website.

Becta says this was causing a confusion of online learning resources. Curriculum Online, launched in 2001, does pretty much the same thing as NGfL - and pretty much the same as the Virtual Teachers' Centre, another online library.

According to Becta, getting rid of NGfL is "part of a process to streamline online educational services...[by] ironing out the duplication of services".

But according to Phil Hemmings, communications director at educational supplier RM Plc, the confusion only arose when different bits of the Department for Education and Skills came up with the same idea of how to spend money.

In a sense, NGfL cannot be bumped off - its legacy of computers and internet connections in schools is too great. As far as Becta is concerned, it has just killed a brand. But why kill such a powerful brand? Why not incorporate all these other educational resources under the National Grid for Learning umbrella?

"Because we want everything under the Becta umbrella," a spokesman said. The NGfL brand was so big, he said, people might have mistakenly thought it was an organisation in its own right.

Now that wouldn't do. There's only room for one education technology brand in the public service and that's the quango, not the vision. ®

Bootnote: Becta emailed us to say:"Just thought I'd let you know that Becta is not a quango - but is a non-departmental public body... we haven't been a quango since we were called NCET."

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