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BSF programme boosts schools' IT spending

5.3% annual growth predicted

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Education spending on ICT will be accelerated by the Building Schools for the Future programme, according to research by Kable.

Investment in new technology for secondary schools has grown faster than any other part of the state education sector over the past three years and this is set to continue, the research says. Overall, it predicts an annual growth rate of 5.3 per cent for schools' IT expenditure over the next three years, from £1.05bn in 2008-09 to £1.29bn in 2011-12.

The growth is largely due to the BSF programme in England, which is set to invest £6.5bn in new school buildings and facilities up to 2008. Its total spending could reach £45bn and some 10 per cent of this will be invested in new technology, according to the report by Kable, which is owned by the same company as GC News.

"As more schools enter the BSF programme, expenditure will rise steeply," said Philippe Martin, Kable's senior education analyst. "Partnerships for Schools, the organisation responsible for BSF, has predicted that 35 schools will open between 2008-09, 115 in 2009-10, 165 in 2010-11 and 200 each year afterwards until the completion of the modernisation programme."

Steve Moss, BSF's strategic director for ICT, said that in terms of its non-financial value, ICT is usually ranked at 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the worth of the programme. "Local authorities are seeing it as extremely important for their transformation," he said.

The Primary Capital Programme, which is set to inject £7bn into primary school buildings and equipment over the next 15 years, is expected to increase ICT spending in a similar fashion. But as the report points out the programme is still at an early stage, and it is likely to be several years before it has a significant impact on national spending figures.

The report predicts that services will be the fastest growing area of schools' ICT spending, with an annual growth rate of 20.1 per cent. It predicts an explosion in the use of IT outsourcing, from £18m in 2008-09 to £151m in 2011-12. But it adds that spending on communications will actually drop very slightly, from £93m in 2008-09 to £90m in 2011-12.

Kable's findings also reveal that ICT investment by further education colleges will continue to rise, driven to a large extent by the government's goal of raising national skills levels.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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